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Radical Reform of Intellectual Property Disputes

» Posted on: 13 December 2010
» Posted by: Tony Catterall
» Service area: Intellectual Property

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It has long been a major concern of SME’s that the cost of protecting their intellectual property rights is a deterrent to the commencement of legitimate actions for patent, copyright or trade mark infringement. All that has now changed with the implementation of the new costs and procedural rules in the (badly named) Patents County Court.

First, do not be confused by the name. The PCC hears all intellectual property cases and provides a cost effective means of resolving IP disputes. Targeted specifically at SME’s, it is designed to avoid the “David v Goliath” deep pocket tactics employed by big name defendants under the old system.

Highlights of the new regime include:

  • cost capping limiting the total cost of the whole case (from start to trial) to £50,000;
  • fixing the costs of an enquiry as to damages or accounts of profits to a maximum of £25,000;
  • substantial procedural streamlining, ie no formal witness statements and cross examination to be limited;
  • trials expected to finish in one or at most two days and to be listed much more quickly than previously.

While not directly affected by these new rules, it should also be understood that policies of after the event insurance available to protect against the risk of losing an IP action should be much easier to obtain now that insurers will be aware of the cost-limiting provisions. All this is good news for owner managed businesses looking to protect their IP rights. If you need further information about these changes please contact Taylors’ head of IP Tony Catterall at tony.catterall@taylors.co.uk.

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