Milan is going to be one of the three branches of the Central Division of the Unified Patent Court, competencies still uncertain.

Companies and professionals in the field anxiously await June 1, 2023, when the new European Patent system with unitary effect will enter into force and, at the same time, the new Unified Patent Court (UPC) will become operational.

Not only this represents the biggest change in the European patent system in the last fifty years, but also, as far as the UPC is concerned, the founding of the world’s first multinational civil court, which will be able to make decisions – concerning invalidity and infringement of unitary patents – having effect in all the Countries (currently 17) that have joined the unitary patent system.

This is an important result considering that currently, in order to obtain an injunction against a competitor in a given country, or the invalidity of a national validation of a European patent, one must go to the relevant national court in order to obtain decisions (of invalidity or infringement) having effect in the relevant national jurisdiction, thus having to multiply legal actions to obtain decisions in each country of interest.

Italy is one of the 17 countries that will be immediately part of the new system (along with Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, and Sweden), and has been therefore already the recipient of a local division with jurisdiction over infringement actions.

Initially, the agreements provided that the Central Division of the UPC with jurisdiction over direct patent disputes had three offices: Munich (with jurisdiction over mechanics, lighting, heating, weapons, and explosives), Paris (with competence on industrial techniques, transportation, textiles, paper, fixed constructions, physics, and electricity), and London (with jurisdiction over human needs, including pharmaceuticals,, chemistry, and metallurgy).

After Great Britain’s withdrawal from the EU as a result of Brexit, Italy entered into lengthy negotiations with the governments of the other countries in an attempt to take over the seat previously intended for London, with areas of competence covering, among others, pharma cases, which are generally particularly complex and in which high economic interests are at stake.

The (good) news, released last May 18, 2023 by the Italian government, relates to the agreement with France and Germany to set up in Italy, and in particular in Milan,  one of the three branches of the central division of the UPC (which will only become operational, however, on 1 June 2024), while uncertainty remains over the jurisdiction that will be assigned to Milan, a hot issue that is still subject to ongoing negotiations.

For the time being, therefore, the agreement reached by the Italian government with France and Germany, which will have to be submitted to the other UP member states at the next meeting of the Administrative Committee to be formalized, represents a very important result for Italy and seals the effectiveness of an intense political and diplomatic action led by our Country to claim a primary role in the new system.

Now, it will be up to the Italian government and the Country to ‘complete the job’ by relocating all the competencies originally allocated to the London seat to Milan.

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