Arguably, Germany is the jurisdiction which has the most to lose with the introduction of the UPC. The German patent infringement courts have built a reputation of offering an attractive combination of quality, speed and a certain patentee-friendliness, which has made Germany a cornerstone of recent global patent disputes. More patent cases are filed in Germany each year than in all other EU member states combined.
Against this background, the reform project around the UPC was initially met with a certain degree of skepticism in Germany. However, in the long process of drafting the governing regulations, many concerns were addressed, and preparations are now well under way to have adequate structures in place when the UPC takes up its work. As to procedural aspects, the UPC will have an option for bifurcation of infringement and validity proceedings modeled after the German system.
To ensure judicial continuity, in particular regarding the quality and efficiency that clients have come to expect from German patent courts, it will be helpful that many, if not all, of the experienced German patent judges become judges in the UPC’s four German local divisions, as is expected. Munich will also be hosting a section of the central division and will continue to be the seat of the European Patent Office.
Public debate continues on how to make the German local divisions even more attractive to prospective users, perhaps most importantly by permitting English as a second language for proceedings. Germany is expected to ratify the UPC Agreement in early 2015, at the latest, allowing the required ratifications to be completed in time for the currently anticipated start of the UPC by early 2016.