The Patents County Court, Reinvented?

November 17, 2011

The maximum amount of damages which can be awarded in a Patents County Court case has now been limited to £500,000, and the maximum costs award is limited to £50,000. This should mean that the Patents County Court is a more attractive and realistic venue for lower value Intellectual Property disputes.

On 14 June 2011 the Patents County Court (PCC) introduced a damages cap of £500,000 in relation to cases of patent, registered design right or unregistered design right infringement. On 1 October 2011 the damages cap of £500,000 was extended to trade mark and copyright infringement claims. This means that the highest level of damages that can be claimed in cases of patent, registered design right, unregistered design right, trade mark or copyright infringement is £500,000. Claims for interest or costs claimed in the proceedings are not included in this figure.


The costs cap of £50,000, combined with the damages cap of £500,000, is likely to ensure that cases more appropriate for the High Court will not be litigated in the PCC, which should leave the PCC available for what it was intended, namely providing relatively swift and cost effective Intellectual Property litigation for smaller businesses in relatively straightforward cases.


The previous incarnation of the PCC, which did not have the costs cap, the damages cap or the procedural simplicity that the present PCC benefits from, did not serve its intended purpose because it was swamped with litigation that was more appropriate for the High Court. This reduced the effectiveness of the "old" PCC. The new procedural framework of the PCC, the costs cap and the damages cap, combined with the no nonsense approach to case management and the clear and common sense decisions of His Honour Judge Birss QC, have revitalised and reinvented the PCC and made it a very attractive Court for litigants in straightforward Intellectual Property infringement disputes.


The above changes make it financially less risky and generally more straightforward to sue an infringer of your Intellectual Property Rights. Of course this also means it is easier and less risky for a competitor to take legal action against your business should they feel you are infringing their Intellectual Property Rights. This is further reason why you should ensure that you not only protect all of your business’s potentially valuable Intellectual Property, but you carry out the appropriate due diligence to mitigate the risk of infringing the Intellectual Property Rights of others. Please contact Nick Womsley for more details [email protected] or your usual contact at Swindell & Pearson Ltd.

Swindell & Pearson has been helping businesses and individuals protect and defend their ideas, innovations and brands for over 130 years. With its head office in Derby, the firm also has offices in Stoke, Wolverhampton, Stafford, Sheffield and Burton. To find out how Swindell & Pearson can help you with any intellectual property requirements please get in touch via [email protected] or by telephone on 01332 367 051.