By Daniel Hunter

The Patents County Court has been renamed the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) after changes came into force today (Tuesday). The Court will now sit as a specialist listing within the Chancery Division of the High Court.

These changes mark the completion of a package of sweeping court reforms which the government has brought in to support businesses to protect their intellectual property and save them time and money.

The government has changed the name of the court in order to clarify its jurisdiction, which covers all intellectual property (IP) and not simply patents.

Minister for Intellectual Property, Lord Younger said:

“Today marks the end of a series of successful reforms, which have completely re-energised this court. The changes make it a viable place for businesses of any size to protect their IP and ensure access to justice at a fair cost for all rights holders and other businesses.

“These changes will also make it easier and cheaper for businesses in the long run as they will now be better able to understand and navigate the specialist IP courts if a dispute occurs. This will reduce the cost of legal services and level the playing field for smaller business.”

Clive Davenport Chairman, Trade and Industry Policy Unit, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said:

"The FSB welcomes the formal introduction of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court today. These changes should make it easier and cheaper for businesses, particularly SMEs and our members to identify, understand and navigate the specialist IP courts when they need to resolve an IP dispute in the courts.

"Small businesses stand to benefit from better protection of their work. A better understanding of the IPEC's purpose will enable them to identify the appropriate court to resolve their intellectual property disputes. We will continue to support and monitor the progress of the court based on the real benefit to our members — small businesses who make a huge contribution to the UK economy."

The court has undergone a number of reforms in recent years that have simplified and streamlined procedures in order to reduce the cost and complexity of IP litigation.

The key changes have included:

the introduction of a scale of recoverable costs, capped at £50,000
a time limit on case hearings of one-two days to reduce costs
the creation of Small Claims Track for copyright, trade mark and unregistered design cases under a value of £10,000

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