Aside from the headline preliminary injunction cases that are now emerging from the unified patent court, what else has been happening?
Well, there has been a slew of new orders emerging over the last 10 days. As would be expected at this stage of the UPC's lifecycle, these are procedural points and they are mostly concerned with service, but they will be important to parties bringing cases in the UPC for the first time and their defendants.
All the key procedural decisions will eventually go into the second edition of the Taylor Wessing led Practitioner's Guide to the Unified Patent Court, but here are just a couple of themes emerging from the court:
- There have now been a number of orders where the panels have aligned service and key procedural dates following from service (preliminary objection and defence). These have arisen in circumstances where there has been a teething error in service by the CMS, causing delays in service to particular defendants. However, in each case, the judges have made it clear that alignment between defendants who have each been served on different dates with the same proceedings is not going to be the norm outside of a CMS error – proceedings will otherwise run on different timelines against each defendant in theory. In practice, when dealing with a number of related defendants, this may mean playing it safe by serving the defence (or filing a preliminary objection) on the earliest of more than one date, for all defendants.
- The court is going to be tough on requests for extensions of time, even for matters as significant as filing a defence, and the absence of key personnel at the defendant for periods of time is unlikely to be an excuse. The court considers that the Rules of Procedure are already designed in such a way that clarification of the facts and internal coordination, even taking into account vacation periods, is provided for.