The Unified Patent Court (UPC) has a complicated Court structure, including a Court of First Instance made up of Central, Local and Regional Divisions. For first instance proceedings, whether an action is heard in the Central Division (and if so in which section) or a particular Local or Regional Division, will vary depending on the nature of the action, the identity of the parties, the location of the cause of action, and the subject matter of the patent. For example, the Central Division will hear all revocation actions.
The UPC was originally intended to have three Central Divisions, in London, Munich and Paris, with actions being allocated to a particular location based on the subject matter of the patent. For example, London was intended to handle cases in international patent classifications A (human necessities) and C (chemistry, including pharmaceuticals, and metallurgy). However, following Brexit, a Central Division in London was no longer a viable option. A new Central Division may be set up elsewhere in Europe to take on the London cases, but initially the London cases will be divided between Paris and Munich, and the UPC has today announced how the work will actually be split.
The Munich Central Division was originally intended to deal with cases in international patent classification F (mechanical engineering, lighting, heating, blasting and weapons). Following today’s announcement, the Munich Central Division will now also be responsible for the chemistry, pharmaceuticals and metallurgy cases in patent classification C.
The Paris Central Division was originally intended to deal with cases in international patent classifications B (performing operations, transport), D (textiles, paper), E (fixed constructions), G (physics) and H (electricity) . Following today’s announcement, the Paris Central Division will now also be responsible for the human necessities cases in patent classification A.
With the UPC opening in just over 2 weeks, this announcement seems rather late. However, perhaps this is a symptom of the fact that the UPC has more pressing issues to deal with at the moment? For example, the UPC case management system is frequently not functioning correctly under the strain of the number of UPC opt-outs being filed as the sunrise period draws to a close. We can but hope that things will improve following the end of the sunrise period, particularly given the short deadlines set for submissions during UPC litigation.