Hamburg Local Division Addresses Options for Service in Multinational Infringement Cases

The Unified Patent Court's Hamburg Local Division issued an interesting procedural order on April 18, 2024, concerning the service with regard to multiple defendants involving multinational entities. The decision, rooted in the legal framework governing international service, reinforces the adherence to established conventions and rules, even amidst the complex dynamics of multinational litigation.

Case Background
Daedalus Prime LLC, a U.S. based company, initiated an infringement action against several entities under the Xiaomi brand, including operations in Germany and Taiwan. The core of the dispute revolves around patent EP2792100, with Daedalus asserting that Xiaomi's German branches should serve as viable points for serving legal documents to the Chinese and Taiwanese defendants.

Submissions and Judicial Analysis
The claimant argued that Xiaomi’s German branch could act as a conduit for service, leveraging the physical presence and operational scope of the branch in Germany. The claimant cited Rule 271.5 (a) of the Rules of Procedure, suggesting a broader interpretation that supports service at any business location related to the defendants’ commercial activities.

Conversely, the court emphasized the necessity of adhering to traditional international service protocols outlined in Rules 273 and 274 of the Rules of Procedure, primarily due to the defendants’ domiciles outside the contracting member states of the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA). The decision underscored the principle that service must first be attempted through the Hague Service Convention or, where applicable, through diplomatic channels, reflecting a rigorous application of procedural norms in cross-border legal contexts.

Court's Decision
The Hamburg Local Division dismissed claimant's request for service via the German branch offices, directing instead that service be executed in accordance with international standards, specifically the Hague Service Convention. This approach was justified by the need to ensure formal and recognized service protocols are followed, providing defendants the full opportunity to respond and prepare their defense effectively.

Key Takeaways:

  • Adherence to International Norms: The decision reaffirms the UPC's commitment to international legal norms, emphasizing that even within the streamlined framework of the UPC, established service conventions must be respected.
  • Clarity on Service of Process: For multinational corporations involved in litigation within the UPC, this ruling clarifies the expectations and procedures for service, particularly highlighting the challenges associated with entities operating across different legal territories.
  • Implications for Multinational Litigation: The ruling may influence how multinational companies structure their operations and legal strategies in Europe, particularly in how they manage potential legal exposures and the locations of their business entities.
    This procedural order not only provides immediate guidance for the involved parties but also serves as a significant precedent for future cases involving complex international service scenarios, ensuring that the UPC operates within a coherent and predictable legal framework.