During its recent meeting in Luxembourg, the Administrative Committee of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) confirmed that several steps have been taken towards realising the long-awaited patent enforcement system. Following the milestone reached in January, and the inaugural meeting held in February, the second meeting was attended by representatives from all Contracting Member States, alongside third party observers admitted from organisations including epi, EPLAW, EPLIT and BusinessEurope.
Firstly, the Committee confirmed that the regional divisions of the Court of First Instance would have four locations in Germany (Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Mannheim, Munich), together with others in Vienna, Brussels, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Paris, Milan, The Hague, Ljubljana and Lisbon, with the regional Nordic-Baltic division based in Stockholm. The Patent Mediation and Arbitration centre will be set up with seats in both Ljubljana and Lisbon.
Secondly, regarding the legal framework of the Court, the Administrative Committee adopted the Court’s Rules of Procedure and its Table of Fees, both of which will enter into force on 1 September 2022. Additionally, the Committee adopted the UPC’s Rules on duty travel, which notably includes incentives for low-carbon emission travel.
Thirdly, following over 1,000 applications from across Europe, the Advisory Committee presented to the Administrative Committee a list of the most suitable candidates to be appointed as judges of the Unified Patent Court. The requirements call for 5 full-time and 35 part-time legally-qualified judges, as well as 50 part-time technically-qualified judges. These appointments will be confirmed in the coming summer months, in time for the training of the judges in UPC procedures, planned for September.
Whilst there is some concern that because the initial application period was in 2014, some of the applicants might not be particularly expert in patent law, the “top-up” window launched by the preparatory committee in 2019 was seen as vital in scouring for high-quality judges.
Finally, and in a related vein, the Administrative Committee adopted the medical and social security plan, pension scheme and internal tax protocols of the UPC, paving the way for recruitment of other staff and officials of the Court.
In view of the above, it is hopeful that operations of the UPC could reasonably be expected to start by the first quarter of 2023.