News & Views

The Unified Patent Court – An Update from the Nordic Countries

18 September 2023

Authors: Panu Siitonen and Vilhelm Schröder

The Unified Patent Court (UPC) opened its doors on 1 June this year. This new system for patent dispute resolution is the most significant change in the European patent landscape in decades.

The UPC consists of a Court of First Instance, a Court of Appeal, a Registry, and a Patent Mediation and Arbitration Centre. The Court of First Instance contains a Central Division with its seat in Paris and a section in Munich (and Milan to come), thirteen local divisions, and one regional division.

The UPC has a local division in Helsinki and a Nordic-Baltic regional division with its seat in Stockholm. According to the Case Management System (CMS), the Helsinki local division already has 8 cases pending and the Nordic-Baltic division has 10 cases pending. Actions can be brought in these divisions if an infringement has occurred in the respective member states or based on the defendant’s residence or place of business.

The Court of First Instance has a composition of three judges consisting of a combination of national judges and judges selected from a pool of judges. The pool of judges consists of all legally qualified and technically qualified judges from the Court of First Instance who are full-time or part-time judges of the Court. The panel of the Helsinki local division consists of one legally qualified national judge and two legally qualified judges of other nationalities selected from the pool of judges. The panel in the Nordic-Baltic regional division consists of two legally qualified judges who are nationals of the member states of the regional division and one legally qualified judge from the pool of judges who is not a national of one of the member states of the regional division.

The legally qualified judge of the Helsinki local division is Judge Petri Rinkinen. Judge Kai Härmand (Estonia) and Judge Stefan Johansson (Sweden) are the legally qualified judges of the Nordic-Baltic regional division. The Finnish technically qualified judges are Mr Krister Karlsson, Mr Simon Walker, and Ms Merja Annikki Heikkinen-Keinänen. The Swedish technically qualified judges are Mr Andreas Gustafsson, Ms Anna Hedberg, Ms Kerstin Roselinger, Mr Anders Hansson, and Mr Patrik Rydman. Along with the aforementioned judges, the pool of judges currently includes a further 27 legally qualified judges and 59 technically qualified judges.

The court is starting to hold hearings in various divisions and hand down its first decisions. Based on our experience of the UPC, the representation before the court is handled as a collaboration between patent litigators from different countries, which goes to show that the UPC is a truly pan-European system. With UPC case law emerging, it will be very interesting to see how the court interprets the provisions of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court and the Rules of Procedure.

Panu Siitonen and Vilhelm Schröder from Hannes Snellman’s IP & Tech Team have significant experience in patent litigation and are both registered representatives before the UPC.

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