New small claims track for businesses with IP disputes
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01 October 2012 - Department for
Business, Innovation and Skills
A new small claims track has today been introduced to the Patents
County Court (PCC), which will speed up the court process and make it
cheaper and easier, particularly for small and medium sized businesses,
to protect their intellectual property (IP) rights.
The small claims track will
provide copyright, trade mark and unregistered design holders the
option of pursuing basic IP disputes through an informal hearing,
without legal representation. This is expected to reduce significantly
the cost of pursuing IP infringement cases. Claims allocated to the
small claims track will be subject to cost restrictions of £5,000 or
less to ensure they are proportionate to what is at stake.
Welcoming the announcement, Business Minister Michael Fallon said:
“Small firms, whose intellectual property has been infringed, will have
today a simpler and easier way to take their cases forward, by writing
direct to the judge and setting out the issues.
“Lower legal costs will make it easier for entrepreneurs to protect
their creative ideas where they had previously struggled to access
justice in what could often be an expensive progress. A smarter and
cheaper process is good for business and helping businesses make the
most of their intellectual property is good for the economy.”
The introduction of the PCC small claims track is the latest addition
to a catalogue of important reforms that the Government has driven
through to simplify and streamline court procedures. Changes already
introduced include a cap on damages and a limit on legal costs. Both
measures have reduced the cost and complexity of legal action for
In addition to today’s changes, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO)
provides numerous alternatives to court action for resolving IP
disputes, including hearings before an IPO tribunal, or using the IPO’s
mediation services. It recommends that legal action is only taken as a
1. In January 2010, Lord Justice Jackson conducted a review
on the cost of civil litigation which identified that the high cost of
IP litigation was often unaffordable for many rights holders and
disproportionate to what was at stake.
2. The report recommended a greater separation of the County Court and
High Court responsible for IP, in line with other court systems. This
would maintain the High Court for complex and expensive cases, with
potentially unlimited damage and cost awards. The county court would
have shorter processing times for simpler cases, with a limit on costs
and damages awarded.
3. A second review, produced by Professor Ian Hargreaves specifically
suggested the introduction of a small claims track for the PCC.
4. The two reports led to reform of the Patents County Court in three
(i) The introduction of the cost/damages cap (October 2010)
(ii) The announcement today of the introduction of the small
claims track, to deal with lower value IP disputes and
(iii) Renaming the court to better reflect the remit of the
Court - expected in 2013/2014.
5. The Patents County Court resolves cases for England and Wales;
Scotland and Northern Ireland's judiciary is devolved and have separate
systems for resolving IP disputes.
6. For media queries, please contact Veena Mapara on 0207 215 5614.
7. For emergency media calls out-of-hours please contact the duty press
officer at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on +44
(0) 207 215 3505.
8. The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is within the Department for
Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and is responsible for the
national framework of Intellectual Property rights, comprising patents,
designs, trade marks and copyright.
9. The IPO's role is to help manage an IP system that encourages
innovation and creativity, balances the needs of consumers and users,
promotes strong and competitive markets and is the foundation of the
10. The IPO operates in a national and an international environment and
its work is governed by national and international law, including
various international treaties relating to Intellectual Property (IP)
to which the United Kingdom is a party.
11. The Government's economic policy objective is to achieve 'strong,
sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the
country and between industries.' It set four ambitions in the ‘Plan
for Growth’ (PDF 1.7MB), published at Budget 2011:
• To create the most competitive tax system in the G20
• To make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance
and grow a business
• To encourage investment and exports as a route to a more
• To create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in
12. Work is underway across Government to achieve these
including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth
Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this
work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more
clarity about the long-term direction in which the Government wants the
economy to travel.
About the Author
© Crown Copyright. Material taken from the BIS Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Reproduced under the terms and conditions of the Click-Use Licence.
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2012-10-04 09:05:54 in Legal Articles