25 EU Member States signed the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement in February 2013, laying the foundations for a Court common to all participating Member States and having exclusive jurisdiction for both European patents with unitary effect (Unitary Patents) and European patents validated in one or more of the participating Member States (European Patents). Accession to the UPC Agreement is open to any EU Member State and, to date, all EU Member States except Spain, Poland, and Croatia have signed the Agreement.

The UPC will have a central division, as well as local and regional divisions. The central division will be located in Paris, with sections in London and Munich. A Court of Appeal will be based in Luxembourg, together with the registry. All divisions will have a multinational composition and will operate under the same Rules of Procedure. Requests for preliminary rulings on the interpretation and application of EU law will be referred from the UPC to the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU).

The UPC Agreement will enter into force when it has been ratified by 13 Signatory States, which must include Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.

The Preparatory Committee of the UPC have estimated that the Court will not be ready before the end of 2015, making this an opportune time to look at some of the key elements of the UPC…

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The Road to the UPC is expected to extend right to the end of 2015, and the Preparatory Committee has set ambitious milestone deadlines to realising the operation of the UPC. We will be publishing a series of articles on our website, each addressing a different facet of the Court, to get you on the road to the UPC and to help you make sense of some fundamental aspects so that you can readily benefit from the new European patent legal system, once it is operational. Check back regularly to ensure you are on the right track for the UPC.