The Unified Patent Court is a new international court established jointly by the EU Member States having ratified the UPCA.
Traditionally, national courts in the EU Member States have been responsible for civil disputes in connection with European patents, for example actions for infringement or nullity. This could lead to costly parallel proceedings in several states. In some cases, the judgments handed down in these proceedings were contradictory, which was at the expense of legal certainty.
After expiry of the transitional provisions, the Unified Patent Court will have exclusive competence for civil disputes concerning European patents and falling under the jurisdiction of the EU Member States having ratified the UPCA. This includes European patents with national validation (traditional) and unitary effect (new) as well as European patent applications and supplementary protection certificates (SPCs) for products protected by such patents.
The Unified Patent Court comprises a so-called Court of First Instance and a Court of Appeal. The Court of First Instance is composed of a central division and several local and regional divisions. The central division has its seat in Paris and initially (June 2023) one branch in Munich. The Court of Appeal has its seat in Luxembourg.
The new international court is intended to avoid costly parallel litigation before several national courts. The Unified Patent Court has set itself the task of delivering high-quality judgments in a comparatively short time. Furthermore, legal certainty is to be increased by harmonizing substantive patent law and case law.
As a non-EU country, Switzerland is not part of the UPCA, and the Swiss Federal Patent Court will continue to have primary competence over civil proceedings involving patents (national or EP with validation in Switzerland). However, Swiss parties are also able to enforce their patent rights in the EU Member States having ratified the UPCA before the Unified Patent Court. It is also possible for actions against Swiss parties falling under the jurisdiction of these states to be brought before the Unified Patent Court.