Your businesses intellectual property (IP) may be one of its most valuable assets, however despite this, suing a third party for infringing your IP has previously been a time consuming, expensive and often unrealistic option. However, a recent review identified that the expense of Intellectual Property disputes was often unaffordable and disproportionate to the value of the claim and as a result, from the 1st October 2012 the Patents County Court (PCC) now has a small claims track.
The small claims track will be available for passing off, copyright, trade mark and unregistered design right disputes but not available for claims relating to patents or registered design rights. The major beneficiaries of the new procedure will be individuals and small to medium sized businesses, particularly in the creative industries, which may not otherwise be able to afford to spend the time and money bringing an IP infringement claim but derive much of their income from exploiting their own rights. Under the new rules, a claim under £5,000 can be allocated to the small claims track if elected by either of the parties. However, regardless of the damages level, injunctions may be awarded to stop people or companies from carrying on with their infringing activities.
A similar costs regime which is found in the small claims track of the County Court will also apply with each party bearing their own legal costs but court fees may be recoverable by the winning party. The new procedure is intended to be user-friendly as well as fast and inexpensive; hearings, for example, will mainly be in a judge's chambers rather than a more formal court room. It is hoped the reforms will fill the void which exists between low value claims and the higher value claims typically dealt with by the PCC and make it easier and cheaper for small to medium sized business and entrepreneurs to protect their IP rights. If you would like more information on how to protect your intellectual property or information on anything contained in this article please contact a member of our Commercial team for more details Emma Cregan, SolicitorThis article is provided for general information only. Please do not make any decision on the basis of this article alone without taking specific advice from us. stevensdrake will only be responsible for the advice we give which is specific to you.