The seats of the Unified Patent Court: a specialized central section in Milan?

The Unified Patent Court (UPC) should shortly enter into force: but is it really all settled concerning its seats?

As known, the UPC is governed by the Agreement establishing the European Unified Patent Court (1635/2012) which has been ratified in Italy by law no. 214 of November 3, 2016. Law 201/2017 of December 4, 2017 also ratified the Protocol on the privileges and immunities of the Unified Patent Court, necessary to give a juridic status to the UPC on the Italian territory.

The UPC comprises two levels: the Court of First Instance and the Court of Appeal supported by the Registry.

The Court of First Instance comprises several divisions: the central division (which seat is in Paris and several specialized sections in London, for chemical and pharmaceutical patents, and in Munich, for mechanical patents) and the local or regional divisions. Local divisions are created in each contracting state upon request. Those in France, Germany, Italy, UK, and Netherlands are considered as larger divisions (for the turnover) whereas those in the remaining contracting states are called smaller divisions.

The regional divisions are those created between two or more states and meant to handle cases of different localization within the region of jurisdiction that could also be related to non-neighboring states (now there is only a Baltic regional Court for Sweden, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia and a Court for Bulgaria and Romania).

The Court of Appeal will be one and it will have its seat in Luxembourg. The Court of Appeal hosts also the Registry and its subsections in several local divisions.

It is planned also a Centre of mediation and arbitration in Lisbon.

Last September, the Council of the Bar Association of Milan has adopted a resolution aimed at urging the national and local institutions (the Italian government, the Lombardy region and the Municipality of Milan) to ask the EU that the section of the central division of the UPC, competent for chemical and pharmaceutical patent, has its seat in Milan which already hosts a local division. For now this section should have its seat in London but because of Brexit and since Italy is at the fourth place for number of patent applications among the European states, it could be the seat for a specialized central division in chemical and pharmaceutical.

It would be interesting assist during the next months to the new development also in light of the new agreement on Brexit between the UK and the European Union.