What is the Unified Patent Court?

The Unified Patent Court (“UPC”) is a new pan-European court which will open for business on 1 June 2023. It will adjudicate disputes relating to the new Unitary Patents and also to existing and future European patents (unless they have been opted out).

Decisions of the UPC will take effect across all participating Member States in which the European/Unitary patent has effect.

The UPC Court of First Instance (CFI) consists of

  • a central division and
  • local / regional divisions.

Central Division

Revocation actions and declarations of non-infringement are to be commenced in the central division.

The central division has its main seat in Paris, and a section in Munich. The seat which will be responsible for a case is determined by the field of technology of the patent concerned as follows:

  • Chemical and life sciences cases (location to be decided)
  • Mechanical cases (Munich)
  • Everything else, including IT and telecoms (Paris)

The panels in the central division will consist of two legally qualified and one technically qualified judge. The panels will be multinational.

Local/Regional Divisions

Infringement actions will normally be heard by the local/regional divisions. These are divisions set up in participating Member States; two or more may join together to form a regional division.

Which local / regional division may be competent to hear an infringement case is determined by the place where the alleged infringement occurred, or by the place of residence, or principal place of business, of the defendant.

Cases in the local/regional divisions will be heard by a panel of three legally qualified judges (optionally one technically qualified judge may be requested).

If a counterclaim for revocation is made in infringement proceedings the counterclaim may also be heard in that local/regional division. However, at the discretion of the local/regional division and having heard the parties, it may instead refer the counterclaim to the central division, and pending the decision from the central division on the counterclaim for revocation, the local/regional court may either proceed with or suspend the infringement proceedings. With the agreement of the parties the local/regional division may refer the whole case to the central division.

A list of participating member states and confirmed locations for the local / regional divisions can be found here.


Appeals from the CFI will be to a Court of Appeal in Luxembourg.

See also our notes on the languages used by the UPC and the law on the Unitary Patent as an object of property