Resolving IP disputes through the courts
You may ask the IPO to resolve some IP disputes. You can also seek to enforce your IP rights in the Patents County Court (PCC), or the High Court.
England and Wales Patents County Court (PCC)
This is a specialist County Court with an IP Judge and deals only with IP cases. Despite its name you can ask this court to resolve a dispute relating to a wide range of IP rights including patents, trade marks, designs and copyright.
The PCC was established to hear less complex/lower value cases, typically those involving SMEs. Since October 2010 it has been undergoing reform to make it cheaper and more effective at resolving such disputes. This has involved introducing streamlined procedures and a fixed scale of recoverable costs capped at £50,000.
On 14 June 2011 a further reform was introduced to limit to the value of any damages claim in a patent or design case in the PCC to a maximum of £500,000. If your claim falls below this limit it will then normally be heard by this court. This change will help to reduce the risk of costly and time-consuming disputes over where your case should be heard - in the PCC or the High-Court. It is expected that later this year, this limit will also apply to any copyright or trade mark claim you may have. You will find further information on these reforms on our consultation page (professional section).
Some other Chancery Registry County Courts have jurisdiction over copyright and some trade mark issues. In practice though such cases are transferred to the PCC where a specialist IP Judge will hear the case. However, the PCC can and does sit outside London.
Small Claims Track (SCT)
Introduced 1 October 2012, a Small Claims Track is now available within the Patents County Court . For uncomplicated and low value trade mark, copyright and unregistered design disputes.
The small claims track operates with informal hearings and no need for legal representation.
Claims allocated to the small claims track will be subjected to cost restrictions, ensuring that such claims are proportionate to what is at stake; with the value of claims needing to be £10,000 or less.
High Court of England and Wales
If you have a more complex or valuable claim your case may be heard in the High Court.
Your copyright, unregistered design or trade mark case will be heard as part of the normal business of the Chancery Division of the High Court. However, your patent or registered design case will be allocated to one of the nominated judges of the Patents Court in the High Court Chancery Division.
Scotland and Northern Ireland
Judges of the Court of Session , the highest civil court in Scotland, may also hear cases relating to Intellectual Property.
Some intellectual property matters may also be heard in the Chancery Division of the High Court of Northern Ireland.
The rules relating to all IP claims are complex. You are recommended to seek legal advice should it prove necessary to enforce your rights through any of the IP courts.