Milan is about to become central in the UPC

The Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (also known as UPC Agreement or UPCA) was signed in 2013, when the United Kingdom was still a Member State of the European Union. According to Article 7(2) UPCA, the central division of the Court of First Instance of the UPC “shall have its seat in Paris, with sections in London and Munich. The cases before the central division shall be distributed in accordance with Annex II” to the Agreement which provides that cases concerning patent sections A (human necessities) and C (chemistry, metallurgy) of the International Patent Classification (IPC) should be handled by the London section.

In March 2017, the United Kingdom decided to withdraw from the European Union. This withdrawal, informally called Brexit, occurred on 1 February 2020 and triggered a transition period which ended on 31 December 2020.

On 20 July 2020, the United Kingdom also withdrew from the UPC Agreement, leaving an empty seat and many doubts. There were two possibilities: reallocating the competences of the former London central division to a new central division (formally, a new section of the central division) or between the Paris and Munich central divisions. As often happens, the ultimate solution was a trade-off between these two options.

At a meeting of the Preparatory Committee on 10 September 2020, all UPC Member States agreed that the creation of a new section should be discussed and dealt with as soon as possible after the entry into force of the UPC Agreement. During such meeting, Italy presented its candidacy to host a new section of the central division in the city of Milan.

Fast forward to 8 May 2023, when the Presidium of the UPC decided that, as from 1 June 2023 (date of entry into force of the UPC Agreement) and until a final decision is taken on the creation of another section of the central division, actions pending before the central division related to patents in IPC section A shall be assigned to the seat in Paris, while actions related to patents in IPC section C shall be assigned to the section in Munich. Once this decision takes effect, cases will be allocated between the Paris seat and the Milan and Munich sections of the central division according to the attribution foreseen in the amended Annex II to the Agreement.

Such decision was adopted on 26 June 2023 and amended the aforementioned Article 7(2) UPCA, literally replacing London with Milan, and the above Annex II. In particular, the competences of the former London section were reallocated so that cases related to patents in IPC section A (human necessities) were assigned to the Milan section and cases related to patents in IPC section C (chemistry, metallurgy) were assigned to the Munich section, while the Paris seat acquired exclusive competence on the supplementary protection certificates.

On 26 January 2024, the UPC and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed a formal agreement concerning the Milan section of the central division, which will be fully operational in late June 2024. The most suitable candidates for these posts were selected in the beginning of 2024, with an opinion of the Advisory Committee of 19 April 2024.

During its meeting on 6 May 2024, the UPC Administrative Committee agreed to appoint three judges for the upcoming Milan central division, although their names have not yet been communicated.

This is a time of important changes for the UPC. English has just become the predominant language of proceedings, overtaking German as had been predicted ( The opening of the central division in Milan will give further momentum to the system.

For more information, please click here.

Latest news