International Jurisdiction and Competence of UPC

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This article is the sixth in a series analyzing the Unified Patent Court (“UPC”) and the provisions of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (“UPC Agreement”) of February 19, 2013 (the full text of the agreement is accessible here). It focuses on the provisions of the UPC Agreement dealing with the issue of international jurisdiction and competence of the UPC (Articles 31–34 UPC Agreement).

The Unified Patent Court (“UPC”) will be a court common to the contracting Member States party to the UPC Agreement, and thus part of their judicial systems. It will have exclusive competence over European patents with unitary effect (“Unitary Patent”). With respect to a traditional European patent, the UPC will be able to issue a single decision covering all those countries where that European patent is registered, unless the patent has been “opted out” of the system by the patent rightsholder. One quick preliminary clarification: for the purposes of this article, the expression “patent” refers to either a Unitary Patent or a classic European patent.

Deciding whether a court has competence to deal with a case brought before it involves two questions:

  1. Does this court have the power to deal with the subject-matter of the claim (subject-matter competence)?
  2. Does this court have power to deal with the named defendant or defendants (personal jurisdiction)?

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