Stay of the proceedings before the UPC in view of parallel EPO proceedings: the Court consolidates its position

According to Art. 33 (10) UPCA and the relative implementing Rule 295(a), the UPC has discretion to stay proceedings pending the outcome of parallel EPO revocation, limitation or opposition proceedings when a rapid decision is expected. Before the Court opened its doors last June, the meaning of “rapid” had been extensively debated.

In November 2023, the Munich Central Division provided initial guidance on how to interpret the article (CFI 80/2023). In detail, the Division clarified that the adjective “rapid” means that there should be a concrete expectation (i.e. a known date in time) of a decision by the EPO within a short period of time and clearly before a UPC expected decision. Furthermore, the Division emphasised the importance of balancing the interests of both parties and taking into account the possibility of the Opposition Division’s decision being appealed.

The Paris Central Division embraced the approach proposed by the Munich Central Division in a recent order for case CFI 361/2023 (Toyota Motor Europe NV/SA vs. Neo Wireless GmbH & Co. KG) delivered on 25 April 2024, rejecting the request to stay the proceedings. In particular, the Paris Division specified that the fact that there is a danger of differing results between the UPC proceedings and the EPO proceedings is not relevant.

In light of the above, it appears that a period of a few months to obtain a decision from the EPO is still considered too long by the UPC. The question then arises as to whether the measures to expedite opposition proceedings recently arranged by the EPO can really be compatible with the very tight timelines of the UPC or not. We just have to wait for future developments.

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