The President of the Court of First Instance on Language of Proceedings - Considering the challenges faced by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

Case Context

In an order dated January 16, 2024, the President of the Court of First Instance addressed an application for a change in the language of proceedings in a patent infringement case between Aarke AB and SodaStream Industries Ltd. 

Aarke AB, a Swedish company, requested a change in the language of proceedings from German to English, as per Rule 323 of the Rules of Procedure (RoP). This request was based on the argument that the patent was originally granted in English and that conducting proceedings in German would pose a significant inconvenience and financial burden, particularly since Aarke is a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME).

SodaStream opposed the application, arguing that it was inadmissible as it was filed in English instead of the current language of the proceedings, German. They contended that the application should be part of the Statement of Defense and in the language of the main proceedings, per Rule 323.1 RoP and Article 7.1 UPCA.


The order of the President

The President of the Court of First Instance ruled in favor of Aarke AB, declaring the application admissible and granting the request to change the language of the proceedings to English. The decision was based on the principles of fairness, equity, and proportionality outlined in the RoP and the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA). The Court emphasized the need to consider the position of SMEs in such proceedings and the aim of the UPCA to ensure fair access to justice for these entities.

The Court considered the respective situations of both parties, noting that Aarke AB, as an SME, faced a significant imbalance compared to SodaStream, a larger entity acquired by PepsiCo. Further, the Court acknowledged that both parties were equally confronted with a foreign language and that the change to English would not disadvantage SodaStream.

The order was not conditional on specific translation or interpretation arrangements.



The order granted Aarke AB’s application, changing the language of the proceedings to English, in alignment with the principles of fairness and proportionality, especially considering the challenges faced by SMEs in patent litigation.


Our takeaways

  • SME Consideration: The Court prioritized the challenges faced by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in patent litigation, emphasizing fairness and accessibility in judicial proceedings.
  • Language Flexibility: The decision shows flexibility in language selection, aligning proceedings with the language of the patent grant to ensure fairness.
  • Admissibility of Language Change Requests: The ruling clarifies that requests for changing the language of proceedings can be made independently of the main pleadings and in a different language.
  • Equitable Language Practices: The Court balanced the interests of both parties, ensuring that the language change to English did not unfairly disadvantage the larger, more resourceful party.