Article 49

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Language of proceedings at the Court of First Instance

1.   The language of proceedings before any local or regional division shall be an official European Union language which is the official language or one of the official languages of the Contracting Member State hosting the relevant division, or the official language(s) designated by Contracting Member States sharing a regional division.

2.   Notwithstanding paragraph 1, Contracting Member States may designate one or more of the official languages of the European Patent Office as the language of proceedings of their local or regional division.

3.   The parties may agree on the use of the language in which the patent was granted as the language of proceedings, subject to approval by the competent panel. If the panel does not approve their choice, the parties may request that the case be referred to the central division.

4.   With the agreement of the parties the competent panel may, on grounds of convenience and fairness, decide on the use of the language in which the patent was granted as the language of proceedings.

5.   At the request of one of the parties and after having heard the other parties and the competent panel, the President of the Court of First Instance may, on grounds of fairness and taking into account all relevant circumstances, including the position of parties, in particular the position of the defendant, decide on the use of the language in which the patent was granted as language of proceedings. In this case the President of the Court of First Instance shall assess the need for specific translation and interpretation arrangements.

6.   The language of proceedings at the central division shall be the language in which the patent concerned was granted.

 

Case Law

 

Court of Appeal

 

IPPT20240417, UPC CoA, Curio Bioscience v 10x Genomics
Change of language of the proceedings into the language of the patent on grounds of fairness: all relevant circumstances shall be taken into account (Article 49 UPCA, Rule 323 RoP) These should primarily be related to the specific case and the position of the parties. If the outcome of balancing of interests is equal, the position of the defendant is the decisive factor. As a general rule and absent specific relevant circumstances pointing in another direction, the language of the patent as the language of the proceedings cannot be considered to be unfair in respect of the claimant. 

 

Court of First Instance 

 

IPPT20240506, UPC CFI, LD Paris, Photon Wave v Seoul Viosys
No change of language of proceedings from French to the language of the patent (English) (Rule 322 RoP, Article 49 UPCA). Even though the European patent at issue was granted in English, the plaintiff, a Korean company, chose to bring its action in French, thereby respecting the rights of the defendant, a French company established in France. Neither the nationality of the representative of one of the parties, nor the nationality of the intervening company, constitute serious grounds for proposing a change in the language of the proceedings for reasons of convenience or fairness.

 

IPPT20240429, UPC CFI, LD Düsseldorf, 10x Genomics v Curio Bioscience
Change of language of the proceedings to the language in which the the patent was granted as agreed by the parties approved by the Court. (Article 49(3) RoP, Rule 321(1) RoP

 

IPPT20240423, UPC CFI, LD Düsseldorf, 10x Genomics v Curio Bioscience
By way of exception the order of 30 April 2024 will be in German, accompanied by a certified English translation. (Article 49 UPCA, Rule 14(2)(c) RoP, Rule 118(8) RoP) After change of the language of the proceedings into English by the Court of Appeal at 17 April 2024, exceptional use is made of the possibility for German Local Divisions to issue and deliver an order in German together with a certified translation in order to make effective use of preparatory work and not to delay the proceedings unnecessarily.

 

IPPT20240415, UPC CFI, President, Advanced Bionics v MED-EL
No disproportionate disadvantage necessary. The decision whether or not to change the language of the proceedings into the language in which the patent was granted (Article 49 UPCA, Rule 323 RoP) shall be determined with regard to the respective interests at stake that has to be weighted, without it being necessary to constitute a disproportionate disadvantage. As a result, it may be sufficient that – amongst all relevant circumstances also to be considered – the language initially chosen is significantly detrimental to the Applicant. A fairness issue can occur if one party compared to the other(s), is remarkably disadvantaged by the conditions in which it has to organize its defence due to the language of the proceedings. Factors resulting from strategic choices made by the Applicants and the existence of multiple related proceedings pending before national courts is not obviously affecting the conditions under which the defence is exercised in the present action. Request to change language of proceedings can be filed within the time-limit to lodge the Statement of Defence.

 

IPPT20240227, UPC CFI, LD Paris, Seoul Viosys v Laser Components
No change of language of proceedings from French to the language of the patent (English) rejected (Rule 322 RoP, Article 49 UPCA). The plaintiff, a Korean company, chose to bring its action in French, which is respectful of the rights of the defendant, a French company established in France. Neither the nationality of the representative of one of the parties, nor the nationality of the company intervening in the proceedings, which it has not been proven at this stage will participate in the proceedings, constitute serious grounds, either for reasons of convenience or for reasons of fairness, for proposing a change in the language of proceedings to the parties. 

 

IPPT20240226, UPC CFI, President, 10x Genomics v Curio Bioscience
Application to change the language of the proceedings between two US litigants from German to the language of the patent (English) not granted (Article 49 UPCA, Rule 323 RoP). No detailed information or relevant data in support of the assertion that Applicant is entitled to classification as an “SME”. No particular circumstances by Applicant put forward that suffice to raise a fairness issue affecting possibility of organising efficiently its defence despite the timeframe of an application for provisional measures – which instead, may be undermined by the requested change – as both parties are equally confronted with a foreign language and the relating inconvenience in terms of translation and interpretation needs. Mere interest of the Court itself – although concurring with those of the users – cannot prevail in the event where none of the other circumstances of the case at hand call for the requested change.

 

IPPT20240116, UPC CFI, President, Aarke v Sodastream
Language of proceedings (German) changed to language of the patent (English) (article 49 UPCA, Rule 323 RoP). It may be sufficient that – amongst all relevant circumstances also to be considered – the language initially chosen is significantly detrimental to the Applicant (UPC CFI 225/2023 LD The Hague, order of 18 October 2023). The respective position of both parties is likely to create a significant imbalance in the way they can organise their defense and access to the Court although they are equally confronted with a foreign language they don’t use in their respective daily activities. Application in English to change the language of the proceedings (from German to English) accepted. Court to decide on case-by-case basis whether an application pursuant to R. 323 lodged in a different language is to be rejected or not. 

 

IPPT20231103, UPC CFI, LD Munich, Amgen v Sanofi-Aventis

Change of the language of the proceedings from German to English, the language of the patent, subject to the agreement of both parties and the other members of the panel (Rule 322 RoParticle 49 UPCA).

 

IPPT20231018, UPC CFI, President, Plant-e v Arkyne

It follows from Article 49(5) UPCA that it may be sufficient that the language initially chosen is significantly detrimental to the Applicant. Language of the proceedings changed from Dutch into English, the language in which the patent was granted (Article 49 UPCA, Rule 323 RoP). Both parties have a good command of English, which is one of their working languages and also the language in which the exchanges prior to the infringement action have been conducted. Consequently, the use of English would not affect the interests of the Respondents, who have already provided a translation of the statement of claim which was served on 10 August 2023.