Currently, national courts of the contracting states of the European Patent Convention (EPC) are competent to decide on the infringement and validity of the national part of European patents.

This gives rise to a number of difficulties when a patent proprietor wishes to enforce a European patent, or when a third-party seeks the revocation of a European patent, in several countries.

Patent proprietors indeed risk facing diverging decisions between the different national courts of the EPC contracting states. Patent proprietors also face high costs and legal uncertainty over the fate of their patents.

At present, forum shopping is inevitable. Parties in fact seek to take advantage of differences in the national courts’ interpretation of harmonised European patent law, the level of damages awarded, the national procedural laws, and litigation pace.

(2) What is the Unified Patent Court?

The Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPC Agreement) will create a specialised patent court, the Unified Patent Court (UPC).

The Unified Patent Court will have exclusive competence over European patents and European patents with unitary effect. The territorial jurisdiction of the UPC will extend to the 25 participating Member States (every European Union Member States besides Spain, Croatia and Poland).

This means that the rulings of the court will be simultaneously valid in all participating Member States.

The UPC will thus create a uniform and foreseeable patent environment within the European Union.

(3) Which legal instruments created the UPC?

Two Europeans regulations created the UPC:

  • Regulation (EU) N°1257/2012 dated 17th December 2012 implementing the enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of the unitary patent protection.
  • Regulation (EU) N°1260/2012 dated 17th December 2012 implementing the enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection with regard to the applicable translation arrangements.

These two regulations will apply from the entry into force of the UPC Agreement.

(4) How much will users of the court need to pay for each action before the UPC?

To learn about the different court fees see our detailed review.