IP Cases & Articles

UPC insights: trends from the January 2024 caseload report

Following the Unified Patent Court’s (UPC) inaugural report on the caseload of the Court from its commencement on 01 June 2023, published on 21 December 2023, the UPC has published an updated report, supplemented with caseload data up until 31 January 2024. This article follows in our series of articles reviewing the trends of the UPC and unitary patents (UP).

Court of First Instance

According to the report a total of 218 cases had been filed before the UPC first instance courts by the end of January 2024, with 83 infringement actions before the local divisions and a combined 111 revocation actions before all divisions of the UPC. An error in the UPC report, associated with reported data for the Paris Central Division revocation actions, seems to have caused the underreporting of the total number of cases filed at the UPC and the figures provided in the breakdown of the total caseload noted above.

The German-based divisions remain the most popular venue for infringement proceedings, with the Munich local division being the most popular (29), followed by Düsseldorf (17), Mannheim (11) and Hamburg (3). The next most popular divisions so far are the Paris local division (9) and the Nordic/Baltic regional division (5).

Counterclaims for revocation have only been filed with respect to 26 of the 83 infringement actions. Notwithstanding this, the total number of revocation counterclaims increased by 79% in January and now stands at a total of 86 counterclaims. This is largely due to separate defendants to infringement proceedings filing separate revocation counterclaims. This is particularly noticeable in the Mannheim and Hamburg local divisions. In December 2023, the Mannheim local division saw its first counterclaims for revocation, of which 22 counterclaims have now been filed with respect to 3 individual infringement actions. Hamburg saw a 300% increase, where 9 counterclaims were filed with respect to a single infringement action.

The number of standalone revocation actions has seen little month-on-month growth, with only a single case being filed at the Paris central division since the UPC issued its first report, bringing the total number filed to 21 at the Paris central division and 4 at the Munich central division. We may expect the predominance of cases at the Paris central division to transition, as the “human necessities” cases (patents classified under WIPO IPC section A) will be heard at the Milan central division from June 2024.

Related article

“UPC: Milan Central Division and Irish Referendum”, published 30 January 2024.

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Since the commencement of the UPC the local divisions have received 22 cases relating to provisional and protective measures, including applications for provisional measures, preserving evidence and orders for inspection. A single case has also been filed at the Hamburg local division for determination of damages, while a declaration of non-infringement has also been filed before the Paris central division.

Court of Appeal

To date, the Court of Appeal has received a total of 33 cases: 11 appeals by adversely affected parties (under UPC Rules of Procedure 220.1) and 13 appeals against other orders (under UPC Rules of Procedure 220.2). The number of appeals by adversely affected parties under UPC Rules of Procedure 220.1 represents a significant increase from the UPC’s inaugural report, where only a single appeal was reported. This number will no doubt increase over the coming months as the number of cases before the UPC first instance courts also increases.

The Court of Appeal has also received 1 request for discretionary review, 2 applications for suspensive effect and 3 applications for an order for expedition of an appeal.

Language of proceedings

German (47%) and English (43%) continue to represent the predominant procedural languages before the UPC, with a minority of the cases filed at the UPC being heard in French (4%), Italian (4%) or Dutch (2%).

The relative proportion of cases being heard in English has risen slightly, as the proportion of cases being heard in German has fallen by a roughly equivalent amount since the first caseload report issued. This is perhaps surprising given that 53 cases were newly filed at the German-based divisions, while only 5 were filed in the remaining divisions. This implies that English is increasingly being used as a language of proceedings before the German-based divisions of the UPC, as well as being the predominant language in the divisions outside of Germany, where it appears that English is the designated procedural language in over 85% of cases.

We will continue to closely monitor the UPC proceedings and caseloads, with the intention of providing regular updates in due course.

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UPC trends and statistics

We have published a number of articles tracking unitary patent and Unified Patent Court trends and statistics since the new system began on 01 June 2023. Previous articles include:

UP & UPC Latest news and guides
UP & UPC Latest news and guides
Lexology masterclass The UPC one year on: where are we now?
Lexology masterclass The UPC one year on: where are we now?