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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 Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) External Link, or the High Court.

England and Wales Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC)

This is a specialist court with an IP Judge and deals only with IP cases. It resolves disputes relating to a wide range of IP rights including patents, trade marks, designs and copyright.

IPEC was established to hear less complex, lower value cases, typically those involving SMEs. Since October 2010 it has been undergoing reform External Link to make it cheaper and more effective at resolving such disputes. The court now has streamlined procedures and a fixed scale of recoverable costs capped at £50,000.The value of any damages claim in IPEC is capped at a maximum of £500,000. If your claim falls below this limit, it will then normally be heard by this court. These reforms help to reduce the risk of costly and time-consuming disputes over where your case should be heard - in IPEC or the High-Court.

Some Chancery Registry County Courts External Link have jurisdiction over copyright and some trade mark issues. In practice though, such cases are usually transferred to IPEC where a specialist IP Judge will hear the case.

Small Claims Track (SCT)

Introduced 1 October 2012, the Small Claims Track in IPEC External Link is for uncomplicated and low value trade mark, copyright and unregistered design disputes, with the value of claims capped at £10,000

The small claims track operates with informal hearings and there is no need for legal representation.

Claims allocated to the small claims track are subjected to cost restrictions, ensuring that such claims are proportionate to what is at stake.

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 External Link of the Patents Court External Link in the High Court Chancery Division.

Scotland and Northern Ireland

Judges of the Court of Session External Link, 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 External Link 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.