The Council of the EU has recorded here that Latvia deposited its instrument of ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) with the Council’s General Secretariat on 11 January 2018. Latvia’s law enabling it to ratify the UPCA was adopted by the Saeima (Latvia’s unicameral parliament) in March 2017 and received Presidential assent in April but only came into force on 1 January 2018. The deposit of the instrument of ratification means that the ratification is now effective (Article 84 UPCA). Latvia is the 15th country to ratify, the others being Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Sweden.
Latvia has agreed with Sweden, Estonia and Lithuania to form a ‘Nordic-Baltic’ regional division of the UPC, the four countries having signed an Agreement in March 2014. Latvia’s law approving that Agreement also came into force on 1 January 2018. The regional division’s language of proceedings will be English and, although its seat and sub-registry will be in Stockholm, it is intended that cases will be heard in multiple locations to the greatest extent possible with each country designating facilities for hearings. As reported here, the explanatory memorandum accompanying Latvia’s draft legislation stated that cases allocated to Latvia (under the Declaration to the Agreement) may be heard in existing court facilities, although it did not specify which facilities would be used; a possible candidate would be the Riga City Vidzeme District Court, which is currently exclusively competent to deal with proceedings involving patent disputes in Latvia. Lithuania and Estonia have designated the facilities of the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court and the Harju County Court (in Tallinn) respectively.
Latvia has not yet consented to the provisional application of the UPCA or signed the UPC’s Protocol on Privileges and Immunities.