Patent attorneys welcome new law giving lower cost access to patent and design court cases

Published: 14 June 2011
By: Peter Prowse

Patent attorneys have welcomed a further step in the new framework for the Patents County Court. A new law comes into force today (14 June), limiting damages which can be recovered in a claim in the PCC, in patent and design matters.

This was part of the original proposals made by the Working Group on the new PCC procedures. It clearly flags the main focus of the Court: to give smaller businesses easier access to justice to protect their patent and design rights, on the smaller, lower-value claims which are most common for them. It remains open to parties to agree that higher damages can be awarded in the PCC. However, this new rule will ensure that more complex, high-value claims do not crowd out those claims which the Court was designed to hear.

Alasdair Poore represented the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) on the group that made recommendations to government – a Working Group of the Intellectual Property Court User’ Committee. In his view,

‘this change in law shows that the Government and the Courts are serious about providing access to justice for SMEs in order to enforce their intellectual property rights. This is critically important for SMEs to play their part in making innovation the engine for the future of the UK economy.’

The change reflects recommendations approved by many small businesses and their patent attorneys.

‘It will ensure that lower value, less complex cases, which would typically involve small businesses, can be heard quickly and effectively. In the past some companies were put off protecting their rights due to the uncertainty of how much it would cost. Now not only will such cases be faster and less costly, but patent attorneys can represent their clients in such proceedings without the need for other lawyers to be involved.’
Work is now underway to expand the law further so the damages cap will cover cases of copyright and trade marks in the PCC, as well as to bring fast track and small claims jurisdictions to the PCC.

For more information, contact: Peter Prowse Tel: 01372 271234, mobile: 07973 213039. Email: PeterProwse@cipa.org.uk.  

Notes to editors

The Patents County Court (Financial Limit) Order 2011 becomes law through section 288(5) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and has been implemented following a report by Lord Justice Jackson on his review of Civil Litigation Costs on 14 January 2010. One of the proposals was to reform the Patents County Court. An order to introduce the damages cap for cases involving patents and designs was debated in the House of Lords on 28 March 2011 and in the House of Commons on 3 May 2011. The order becomes law on 14 June 2011.

For more information on the PCC see Alasdair Poore’s blog on the PCC.

A guide to the reformed Patents County Court is available here.



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