The EU has today decided on the Unified Patent Court, strengthening London’s position at the heart of European IP matters. The decision is that the Central Division of the EU Unified Patent Court will be located in Paris, with sections of the Central Division being set up in London and Munich to deal with specialised subject matter.

It has been a longstanding goal of Europe’s IP legislators to create an EU Unified Patent system in which a company can file one patent valid in all EU member states, and enforce it through a single court system to obtain an EU-wide decision instead of litigating separately for national decisions in each member state.

Previously, all EU member states except Italy and Spain had agreed, in principle, to the EU Unified Patent system, subject to a decision on the location of the Central Division being made.  Now, after two days of tense negotiations, the European Council summit has reached an agreement on the location of the Central Division of the EU Unified Patent Court, removing what was considered to be the final stumbling block on the way to a creating a EU Unified Patent system.

It has just been decided that the seat of the Central Division and the office of the President will be located in Paris, with sections of the Central Division being set up in London and Munich to deal with specialised subject matter.  The London section will deal with patents in medical, pharmaceutical, biotech, chemical, and metallurgical fields, while the Munich section will deal with mechanical engineering, lighting, and heating.

It is also possible for litigation to take place in Local Divisions of the Court (i.e.  in EU member states), though precise details about the balance between the Local Divisions and the Central Division are not clear at this stage.

The decision to split the Central Division strengthens London’s position at the heart of European IP matters.  London is also only two hours away from Paris by train, and it is expected that this decision will lead to significant growth in litigation activity in the UK, with London acting as both a vital section of the Central Division and as a very active Local Division of the Court.