Amidst the excitement around the UPC finally opening its doors yesterday, 1 June 2023, a somewhat more practical announcement has flown under the radar, yet is one that will be welcome news to many potential users of the new system.
France, Germany and most recently Italy have now officially designated English as an accepted language of proceedings before their respective Local Divisions. This means that claimants can, subject to certain exceptions, choose to bring first-instance actions for infringement before these Local Divisions in English, should they wish to.
As a reminder, the UPC’s Court of First Instance (where proceedings will initially be brought) is composed of a number of Local and Regional Divisions, as well as the Central Division. Actions for infringement can be brought before either the Central Division or a Local / Regional Division depending on the location of the infringing act and the residence or principal place of business of the defendants, meaning that in some circumstances the claimant will have a choice of venue. The announcement means all Local and Regional Divisions now offer English as a language of proceedings. Proceedings before the Central Division remain limited to the language the patent was granted in. The language of first-instance proceedings is also the default language of any subsequent appeal.
As well as increasing harmonisation of the new Court, the announcement is likely to be well received by many potential users of the new system, particularly those from Asia and the US, and is a further feather in the cap of a new court hoping to stake its claim as a premier global venue for patent disputes.