The Interim Hearing at the UPC: Insights from the Front Lines

As we anticipate the main hearing set for the end of June, in this blog we would like to report on one of the first interim hearings at the Unified Patent Court (UPC), sharing our firsthand experiences and observations.

Key Observations from the Interim Hearing

Unlike hearings in German infringement and validity cases, where substantive issues are often explored in depth, the interim hearing at the UPC was characterized by discussions on more procedural and formal aspects, with the core disputes of the case barely touched upon. As expected, the substantive issues remain reserved for the (final) oral hearing at the UPC. However, formal issues such as late submissions and formal inquiries were tabled for discussion.

It was made clear that substantial discussions are reserved for the main hearing. This phased approach underscores the UPC's strategy of managing procedural formalities ahead of substantive engagements.

The presence of not just the judge-rapporteur but an additional judge hints at a collective representation of the panel. However, their stance remained largely exploratory, emphasizing a pragmatic approach to unresolved legal questions and affirming the parties' right to a fair hearing amid prevailing uncertainties.

Our takeaways

  • Procedural Orientation: The interim hearings lean towards addressing procedural over substantive issues, marking a clear strategy to streamline case management ahead of the main hearing.
  • Flexibility and Openness: The UPC demonstrates a pragmatic and flexible approach, keeping discussions open-ended without committing to definitive procedural or substantive directions.
  • Engagement with Formalities: There is a focus on exploring procedural formalities and the potential implications of case management decisions, reflecting a preparatory phase for the parties involved.