UPC Wish #2: Can the UPC please start using ECLI-numbering?

28-05-2024 Print this page
Dick van Engelen

Now that the UPC is nearing its one-year anniversary at June 1 and has published close to 200 orders and decisions, we see that UPC panels use their best efforts to refer to UPC precedents in their judgments. That is of course more than welcome for the enthusiastic UPC fanbase that is trying to keep up with the developments in UPC case law.


However, this practice also makes it clear that there is no obvious and understandable manner in which the UPC can itself simply refer to other UPC orders and decisions. Thus we see references to internal UPC codes as “APL_**”or “App_*** but for simple mortals those numbers do not lead to one specific judgement. There is – of course – our own superb IPPT-identifying system, but that is not necessarily what the Court should publicly adopt. Certain orders by German panels use GRUR-references, which is probably also better than nothing, but access to the GRUR-sources comes at a hefty price for what essentially is a public domain document.


The person skilled in the art of finding case law is probably puzzled by the fact that the UPC does not simple use the well-accepted European Case Law Identifier system – better known as  “ECLI” – which has been specifically developed under the auspices of the EU Council to facilitate the correct and unequivocal citation of judgments from European and national courts.


The funny thing is that on the UPC website we find a “General Template for decision” in which we see the following sentence: 

REFERENCE CODE ECLI: … [required by R. 67 RegR] [to be provided by the Deputy-Registrar]”. However in Rule 67 of the Rules governing the Registry of the Unified Patent Court we only read something about the use of headnotes and keywords, but nothing about the use of ECLI-numbering. Apparently the Registry is spending most of its resources on the CMS, but with the ever growing number of cases the UPC should start thinking fast about how it can make this ever increasing haystack of judgments easily accessible ajnd digestible.


Would it not be a nice one-year birthday present form the UPC to its fanbase, if the UPC would simply start using ECLI-numbering, if only to demonstrate that it by now is becoming a mature court that can function at the same eye-level with the other grown-up courts within the EU?


Or is this too much to ask for ;-)?


Dick van Engelen, IP-PorTal editor-in-chief


See also: UPC Wish #1