The UPC has today (22 May) confirmed the languages for the 1st instance Local and Regional Divisions. As expected, the Regional Division covering Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia has adopted English as its language of proceedings.
The Local Divisions in Austria (Vienna), Belgium (Brussels), Denmark (Copenhagen), Finland (Helsinki), The Netherlands (The Hague), Portugal (Lisbon) and Slovenia (Ljubljana) have all adopted English as a language of proceedings in addition to the local language or languages. For example, at the Local Division in The Hague proceedings can be brought in either Dutch or English. The Local Division in Brussels will accept any of French, Dutch, German or English as the language of proceedings.
By contrast, the Local Divisions in France (Paris), Italy (Milan) and Germany (Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Mannheim, Munich) have adopted only the local language as a language of proceedings. Proceedings at the Local Division in Paris will have to be brought in French, at the Local Division in Milan in Italian, and at the four Local Divisions in Germany in German. It does remain possible that in a particular case the parties and the relevant Local Division could then agree to use the language of the patent instead of the local language.
The language(s) offered by each Local or Regional Division may affect how attractive each Division is for plaintiffs looking to bring an action. Many foreign companies may prefer to work in English and be able to read their own and other parties' pleadings in English, as well as to participate in the court hearings in English, rather than having to use a different language such as French, German or Italian. As the Rules of Procedure are the same in each Division, convenience of the language of proceedings could be an important factor in choosing where to litigate.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.