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UPC Agreement – 17th Draft of Rules of Procedure now published
Unitary Patent Package – does Article 47(5) of the UPC Agreement hardcode bifurcation?
One of the most frequently-discussed concerns regarding the unified patent court agreement is the possibility of bifurcation*. This has, in turn, lead to concerns in some quarters that local divisions of the unified patent court could set themselves up to be patent proprietor friendly but send validity counterclaims back to the central division. In such scenarios, the argument goes, a patent owner could secure an injunction in the local division based on the issue of infringement that would have effect across the whole of the unitary patent area before validity has even been heard in the central division.
Regardless of the above “doomsday” scenario, however, it is noted that according to the UPC agreement the defendant will be able to raise validity as a counterclaim within an infringement action. It will then be up to the local division in question as to whether they hear both infringement and validity (I&V) or whether they kick the validity part of the action back to the central division (and thereby create a bifurcated case). [This IPcopywriter has assumed (probably naively) that local divisions will probably follow the practice of the country within which they are set up.]
However, on a review of the final text of the UPC agreement, we have come across a particular scenario, written explicitly into the agreement, in which the defendant is apparently not even able to raise validity as a counterclaim in an infringement action. We are referring to Article 47(5) UPC agreement and the scenario where an exclusive licensee brings an infringement action.