Milan confirmed for UPC central division
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Milan confirmed for UPC central division

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The Milan central division will be open next year but there is no final deal on what cases it will hear

The third seat of the Unified Patent Court’s central division will be hosted in Milan, the Italian government announced yesterday, May 18.

The Milan central division seat will be operational within one year and will not be ready for the UPC’s June 1 opening, a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

But it is still not clear which cases the Milan division will hear.

It emerged earlier this year that the French government wanted the Paris division to take on the highest-profile life sciences cases, which were originally intended to go to London.

The statement did not mention any agreement on the caseload that would be allocated to Milan.

Laura Orlando, joint global head of intellectual property at Herbert Smith Freehills in Milan, said the news was especially welcome after a UPC statement on the central division earlier this week omitted any mention of Milan.

The UPC confirmed on Tuesday, May 16, that the Paris and Munich seats of the central division would initially share London’s caseload when the court opened on June 1.

The statement indicated no deal had been reached on a third seat to replace Milan.

“The announcement of that provisional split, in the absence of any reference to Milan, had led many readers and part of the Italian press to think that Italy would no longer have the third seat,” Orlando said.

She said the initial split of remits between the divisions would be reviewed in 2026, at the request of the Italian government.

“This is a great achievement for the Italian IP and life sciences community, as much as for Milan and Italy.

“We have eventually arrived at the result that we have been working on for years,” she said.

Milan had, for months, been the only contender to replace London after the UK withdrew from the UPC in 2020.

The path was seemingly clear when the Netherlands dropped out as part of a deal with the Italian government, as confirmed by Managing IP last July.

But Milan’s chances seemed uncertain at several points.

Some lawyers speculated that the collapse of Mario Draghi’s government last year might endanger relations with EU colleagues.

And the news that the French government wanted to keep the highest-profile life sciences cases for Paris did little to reassure lawyers in Italy.

The proposal to award the third central division seat will be submitted to the UPC administrative committee for formal approval at its next meeting.

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