The Italian Government has announced that Milan, in addition to the only Local Division in Italy, will also host the third Central Division of the Unified Patent Court (TUB), along with the Munich and Paris Divisions. London was originally intended to be the home of the third Central Division but, following Brexit, the seat became vacant. The decision is the result of an agreement between Italy, France and Germany.
As of June 1st, 2023, the European patent with unitary effect entered into force, a new single patent title (and a single renewal fee) able of guarantee the patent protection in the 25 EU Member States adhering to the initiative (17 of which, to date, have already ratified).
The Agreement is part of the EU Patent Package and involves the birth of a new supranational jurisdictional system: the Unified Patent Court (UPC).
Alongside the Local Divisions, at least one per Country, and some Regional Divisions (for several Countries that do not have sufficient numbers for a Local Division), the system provides for the establishment of only three competent Central Divisions, in various patent sectors, for the actions of nullity and negative verification of counterfeiting: Paris, Munich and London.
However, following Brexit and the withdrawal of the ratification of the agreement establishing the Unified Patent Court by the United Kingdom, the London office became vacant.
Since 2020, Milan applied for obtaining, in addition to the only Italian seat of the Local Division, also the Central Division (originally envisaged to the UK) based on the original distribution criterion according to which the Central Courts had to be assigned to the Countries that had more patent activity. Italy was fourth in the list, but the appointment of Milan was not well viewed by some Countries such that Monaco and Paris had already announced that they were temporarily sharing London’s jurisdiction.
In the meantime, the Netherlands h also presented its candidacy, based on the experience of its judiciary and Ireland did the same, thanks to the English language and its friendship with the United States, probably the biggest client of the new court outside Europe; at least the latter, however, excluded itself from the competition, given the current lack of ratification by Dublin.
Following exhausting negotiations, on May 18th, 2023, the Italian Government announced that it had reached an agreement with France and Germany to establish the third Central Division of the Unified Patent Court in Milan. The agreement will be formalized at the next meeting of the Administrative Committee, but the substance has already been decided.
Of course that is an extremely important result for Italy and for Milan, one of the main European hubs in innovation and intellectual property and whose Central Division, in addition to the Local Division, will judge important Unitary Patent disputes from all the Europeans Countries which are part of the EU Patent Package (although the competences of the Central Division of Milan – probably not all of those originally meant for London – will not come into force immediately).