The 18th draft of the Rules of Procedure, as shown here, was adopted by the Preparatory Committee of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) on 17 October and published on the UPC website on 27 October. The Rules are intended to govern all divisions of the UPC, including the Court of Appeal.
This publication is another positive sign that the UPC will enter into force in line with the current timetable, according to which cases will be heard from early 2017. Last month, we saw representatives from several member states (including France, Germany and the United Kingdom) sign a protocol to the UPC Agreement. This will enable various practical and legal steps to take place in good time to ensure that the UPC is operational from day one. The training programme for the technical judges of the UPC is also underway.
Changes in the 18th draft
The latest draft of the Rules incorporates various changes including clarification as to the applicable language in UPC proceedings. Following previous drafts, some commentators were concerned that while judges may be comfortable hearing cases in a language other than their mother tongue, they may not wish to write what will typically be complex judgments in a foreign language. To address this concern, the new Rule 14(2)(c) provides that the judge-rapporteur in each case can order that the judges may use a local language in oral proceedings or when making an order or delivering a decision, provided that a certified translation is provided in English, French or German.
The draft also makes changes to the provisions on opt outs to account for the fact that the de facto proprietor of a patent may not be the proprietor listed in the Registry; for example, following a change of ownership or a corporate restructuring.
The Rules are subject to further adaptations once the Preparatory Committee has finalised the court fees applicable to the UPC.