Unified Patent Court (UPC)

Unitary patent system

Twenty-five EU Member States signed an international agreement to establish the Unified Patent Court (UPC), to which seventeen are currently bound. This new court deals with questions of infringement and validity of both Unitary Patents and European patents. 

The UPC:

  • is a new supranational court that allows the proprietors of Unitary Patents and European patents to enforce their rights – and third parties to have patents revoked – in all EU Member States having ratified the UPC Agreement
  • puts an end to the need for litigation before national courts in different countries
  • enhances legal certainty through harmonised case law in the area of patent infringement and validity
  • provides litigants with simpler, quicker and more efficient judicial procedures
  • harmonises substantive patent law relating to the rights conferred by Unitary Patents and European patents and the limitations of those rights as well as the remedies in cases of infringement
Main features

The UPC is a new European court set up to decide on the infringement and validity of Unitary Patents and "conventional" European patents under the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPC Agreement) of 19 February 2013 (see OJ EPO 2013, 287). 

Currently, national courts and authorities decide on the infringement and validity of European patents. In practice, this can lead to difficulties when a patent proprietor wishes to enforce a European patent in several countries or when a third party seeks the revocation of a European patent. Parallel litigation in different countries is expensive and there is a risk of diverging decisions and a lack of legal certainty. Forum shopping is often inevitable, as parties seek to take advantage of differences between national courts and their procedures. 

The UPC Agreement addresses these shortcomings by creating a specialised patent court with exclusive jurisdiction for litigation relating to Unitary Patents and European patents and harmonising the scope and limitations of the rights conferred by a patent, and remedies available beyond EU Directive 2004/48/EC (Enforcement Directive). 


The UPC comprises 

  • a Court of First Instance 
  • a Court of Appeal 
  • a Registry. 

The Court of First Instance is composed of a central division (with its seat in Paris and a section in Munich) and several local and regional divisions. The Court of Appeal is located in Luxembourg. 


The UPC provides a better framework for all parties involved in patent litigation in Europe. In particular, costs are lower as parties do not need to engage in parallel patent litigation in different member states. Divergingdecisions from different national courts on infringement and validity of the same patent will gradually disappear as the UPC develops a European case law, thus enhancing legal certainty for all users. Over time, a more efficient and balanced patent litigation system will emerge, to the benefit of both patent proprietors and third parties, namely: 

for patent proprietors, the UPC will offer better enforcement of valid patents, with decisions taking effect in all Member States having ratified the UPC Agreement as well as injunctions and damages;  for third parties and the public, the UPC provides a central revocation action, separate from the EPO's opposition procedure, at any time during the life of the patent. 


The UPC Agreement (OJ EPO 2013, 287) was signed on 19 February 2013 by the EU Member States (except Croatia, Poland and Spain). It was ratified by 17 Member States, including the three states in which the highest number of European patents had effect in 2012, i.e. Germany, France and Italy, and entered into force on 1 June 2023. Additional Member States are expected to ratify the UPC Agreement in the coming years. For the state of play regarding ratification, please see the website of the Council of the EU


Further information

For more information, please see:

UPC website
"Patent Litigation in Europe" (5th edition, 2019, page 155 onwards)