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UPC to Decide on Public Access to Evidence: Crucial Test Case in February 2024

UPC to Decide on Public Access to Evidence: Crucial Test Case in February 2024


Key court case challenges restricted access

In a pivotal move set to shape the future of public access to evidence within the Unified Patent Court (UPC), a significant test case is scheduled for a hearing in February 2024. Recent decisions within the UPC have barred the public from accessing court evidence, sparking debate and legal challenges on the transparency of judicial proceedings.[1]

The case, brought forth by Mathys & Squire before the Munich Section of the Central Division of the UPC, challenges the prevailing practice of restricting access to evidence and pleadings filed with the Court. The firm asserts that such materials should be made available to third parties upon request as a default, barring access only when necessary to safeguard confidential or personal information.

Simultaneously, Mathys & Squire has sought to intervene in an ongoing appeal within the UPC's Nordic-Baltic division. The appeal contests a judge's decision to allow a third party to obtain copies of evidence and pleadings.[2]

The UPC, established as Europe's novel system for patent enforcement in June 2023, aimed to introduce a uniform and more efficient patent litigation framework across the European Union. However, recent disputes regarding access to evidence have raised questions about the transparency and accessibility of the court's proceedings.

The pending appeal, now assigned to the UPC Court of Appeal's second panel, sees Judge Ingeborg Simonsson appointed as the judge-rapporteur for the case. With a longstanding tenure as a judge in Swedish courts, including the Svea Court of Appeal and the Patent and Market Court of Appeal, Judge Simonsson’s involvement highlights the importance of transparency in Swedish law.[3]

Judge Simonsson has set a 15-day deadline for involved parties to comment on Mathys & Squire’s application to intervene. Subsequently, the court will allow another 15 days for written arguments on the appeal's substance before convening an oral hearing on 15 February 2024.

Nicholas Fox, a Partner at Mathys & Squire, expressed optimism about Judge Simonsson's appointment, emphasizing Sweden's legal tradition of transparency. He believes her role will be pivotal in evaluating the appeal's considerations of public access.

Concurrently, the case before the Munich Section of the Central Division remains stayed until the outcome of the Appeal is determined.[4]

Alexander Robinson, another Partner at Mathys & Squire, highlighted the significance of the decision to pause proceedings, signaling the firm's substantial legal interest in the appeal and its right to intervene.

Mathys & Squire's legal representation in these cases includes Nicholas Fox and Alexander Robinson from their London office, along with Andreas Wietzke, a partner from their Munich office. These cases mark a crucial juncture in determining the extent of public access to evidence within the UPC, a decision that could significantly impact future judicial proceedings.

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