Asserting your IP rights in court to get easier

The change is a victory for entrepreneurs and inventors, who in the past have often shied away from litigating, due to the potential high costs involved. Smaller businesses in particular have been reluctant to enforce their rights against those with deeper pockets.

Under the new rules, a cap on recoverable costs and damages in the UK Patents County Court (PCC) will be introduced. This will limit cost liability but will also hopefully open up access to justice on IP cases for all sizes of business.

Philip Harris, a partner at law firm Gill Jennings & Every, explains:

“The UK IP courts have always been highly regarded for the quality of their decision making but the unpredictable cost of the litigation process – in particular – the loser’s liability for the winner’s costs – has been a major disincentive to litigants, especially smaller businesses who were effectively denied access to justice.”

The key reforms, which come into force on October 1, will see a maximum cap on recoverable costs of £50,000 on the trial of the merits and £25,000 on any subsequent assessment of damages.

But Robert Skone James – also a partner at Gill Jennings & Every – adds that these costs are the maximum possible awards. It’s unlikely that the full amounts will be awarded in most cases.

“Because the potential costs liability is limited, litigants can be more confident that their budgets can be met,” says James. “This should be of particular benefit to SMEs, which in the past have been effectively priced out of protecting their IP rights in the PCC.”

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