The Central Division (Paris Seat) on the competence of the UPC – Yes we are competent!

In a detailed ruling from May 2, 2024, the Central Division in Paris addressed a preliminary objection in a revocation action case. The case focused on jurisdictional complexities and procedural strategy.

Case Background
Mala Technologies, the defendant in the main revocation action, sought to challenge the jurisdiction of the UPC, arguing for a dismissal based on a concurrent revocation action at the German Federal Patent Court. The core of their argument hinged on the belief existing German proceedings should preempt the UPC's jurisdiction, citing Articles 29-32 of the Brussels I Regulation recast to support their position.

Court's Findings and Rulings
The court methodically dismissed each of Mala Technologies’ requests, providing a clear exposition on the applicability of jurisdictional norms and procedural fairness:

  • Jurisdiction and Lis Pendens: The court rejected the application of Articles 29-32 of the Brussels I Regulation, explaining that these provisions did not automatically apply to the UPC as a common court. The decision emphasized that the UPC's jurisdiction is distinct and should not be conflated with national courts, despite the overlap in subject matter concerning the patent's validity.
  • Request to Stay Proceedings: Mala Technologies' request to stay the proceedings until a decision was reached in the German Federal Court of Justice was also denied. The court clarified that the existence of parallel national proceedings does not inherently necessitate a stay under the UPC system, highlighting the court’s mandate to operate independently of national proceedings unless expressly required by procedural rules.
  • Procedural Requests Denied: The court further denied requests to extend the deadline for lodging a defense and to separate and stay the proceedings concerning the German portion of the patent. This stance reinforces the UPC's commitment to maintaining procedural efficiency and not allowing strategic filings to unduly delay proceedings.

Key Takeaways:

  • Independent Jurisdiction of UPC: This decision reinforces the UPC’s role as an autonomous legal body with jurisdictional independence from national courts, even in the presence of overlapping legal actions across member states.
  • Strategic Litigation Limits: The ruling serves as a caution against using preliminary objections and procedural tactics to forestall UPC proceedings, emphasizing that such strategies must have substantive legal backing and not merely serve as delay tactics.
  • Efficiency and Procedural Rigor: By denying, the requests for procedural accommodations like stay and deadline extensions, the court underscored its dedication to expeditious proceedings.