The Unified Patent Court will be made up of a Court of First Instance and a Court of Appeal. The Court of First instance will have Central Divisions in Paris, Munich and one other European city (still to be decided), and additional Local and Regional Divisions in individual member states. The Court of Appeal will be in Luxembourg.
Cases in the Court of First instance will generally be heard by a panel of three judges, whereas cases in the Court of Appeal will generally be heard by a panel of five judges.
Cases will be divided amongst the three Central Divisions of the Court of First Instance according to their subject matter. The Munich Central Division will handle cases relating to mechanical engineering and the Paris Central Division will handle cases relating to electronics, computer science and physics. A third Central Division, once established, will handle cases relating to chemistry and pharmaceuticals.
In principle, where an action can be brought will depend upon the nature of the action and the location of the defendant or alleged infringement (where applicable).
Infringement actions, actions for injunctions, actions for damages derived from provisional protection, actions relating to prior use of a patented invention and actions against foreign defendants can be brought either before the Local or Regional Division of the state in which the infringement occurred, or before the Central Division.
Such actions against European defendants will take place at the Local/Regional division in which infringement occurred or where the defendant is domiciled. If the state concerned does not host a Local Division and does not participate in a Regional Division, actions shall be brought before the central division. Actions for declarations of non-infringement and actions for revocation, on the other hand, must be brought before the Central Division.
In the case of counterclaims for revocation, a Local or Regional division will have the discretion to (a) proceed with both the infringement action and the counterclaim; (b) refer the counterclaim to the Central Division and suspend or proceed with the infringement action; or, with the agreement of the parties, (c) refer the case for decision to the Central Division. Thus, the possibility for “bifurcation” will arise, in which a Local or Regional Division decides on the question of infringement of a patent and the Central Division decides on the question of validity of the patent, potentially in different languages.