Last week, on 26 January 2024, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation announced that the UPC Headquarters Agreement has now been signed between Italy and the Unified Patent Court (UPC). This means Milan has now formally been confirmed as the final seat of the UPC’s Central Division. This comes as a result of the UK no longer being a member of the UPC, leading to reassignment of one of the UPC’s Central Division seats.
Until recently, all subject matter competencies, including those originally assigned to the London seat, “human necessities” related patent cases, chemistry, metallurgy, and pharmaceuticals-related patent cases, had been shared between the other seats in Munich and Paris. According to the agreement, Milan will oversee human necessities subject matter, while Munich will now oversee chemistry and metallurgy subject matter in addition to mechanical, lighting, heating, weapons, and blasting subject matter. This leaves Paris overseeing SPCs, and all other subject matter types. This allocation will come into effect when the Milan seat starts operating, which is anticipated to be this summer.
The technical and legal judges for each seat of the Central Division are recruited from various jurisdictions across Europe. While Central Division judges for Paris and Munich have been named and started handling cases, judges for the Milan seat are yet to be confirmed.