By Claire West
A new small claims track has today (Monday) 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 businesses.
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 last resort.