The Unified Patent Court (UPC) will be made up of a Court of First Instance, Court of Appeal and the European Court of Justice, which is to be used for questions EU law only. As shown on the diagram below, the first instance court is made up of the central division, which will be based in Paris and Munich (and Milan in the future too), and various local and regional divisions.
The Patent Mediation and Arbitration Centre will also offer support for the settlement of disputes relating to “classic” European patents and Unitary Patents and will have the facilities to reach possible settlements within the Centre itself.
To date 85 judges have been appointed, 34 legally qualified and 51 technically qualified. They will sit as follows:
Central division: Cases will be heard by 2 legally qualified judges who are nationals of different member states plus one technically qualified judge with qualifications and experience in the relevant field, or 3 legally qualified judges who are nationals of different member states where the case relates to a decision of the EPO.
Local divisions: Cases will be heard by 3 legally qualified judges, with one who is a national of the host country and 2 who aren’t nationals of that country. An additional technically qualified judge can be requested by the parties, or if the judges of the division deem it appropriate.
Regional divisions: 2 legally qualified judges who are nationals of the contracting states concerned and one legally qualified judge who isn’t a national of one of the contracting states concerned will sit. An additional technically qualified judge can be requested by the parties, or if the judges of the division deem it appropriate. However, parties can agree to have their case heard by a single legally qualified judge.
The language used in proceedings before any local or regional division of the Court of First Instance is to be one of the official languages of the state hosting the relevant division. States may also designate one or more of the official languages of the European Patent Office (English, French or German).
In the Central Division, currently and in accordance with the UPC Agreement, proceedings will be heard in the language in which the patent was granted although this may change. The language used in the Court of Appeal will be the same language used before the Court of First Instance.