New fast-track court for intellectual property disputes unveiled

by Redmans on October 5, 2012

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A new fast-track court for intellectual property disputes has been launched in the United Kingdom with a “small claims court” being opened at the Patent County Courts. This post will take a look at this change, assess the advantages and disadvantages of such a system, and see how it will aid the parties to litigation. It will therefore require an examination of the following:

  1. What is the new fast-track system?
  2. What are the benefits and disbenefits of the new system?
  3. What are the benefits for those who have allegedly had their copyright infringed?
  4. What are the benefits for alleged copyright infringers?
  5. Will it work?

What is the new fast track system?

Under the new system if damages are less than or equal to £5,000 then the case will be directed through the new smalls claims court at the Patent County Court. Costs will not be payable by the losing party under this regime so it will be a relatively informal process which will, in the main, not require legal representation.

What are the benefits and disbenefits of the new system?

Benefits

  • Less costly – costs are not payable generally on the small claims track
  • Arguably better access to justice for small businesses –as argued by Business Minister Michael Fallon
  • Less contentious – the process may be less aggressive with a lack of legal representation
  • Potentially quicker resolution of disputes

Disbenefits

  • Less incentive to settle out of court – the costs consequences for pursuing litigation will be removed
  • The US fast-track system has not proven popular, suggesting that the UK may also not prove popular
  • Potentially frivolous claims lacking legal merit may clog up the system

What are the benefits for those who have allegedly had their copyright infringed?

The benefits for the owners of copyright are:

  1. Quicker resolution of disputes relating to copyright
  2. Less costly to enforce copyright

What are the benefits for alleged copyright infringers?

  1. Less pressure to settle out of court because of the potential cost of proceedings

Will the new copyright fast-track system work?

This remains to be seen. As stated above the copyright fast track system hasn’t really been enthusiastically embraced in the United States. However, the introduction of the small claims system may provide an effective and cost-efficient means of copyright enforcement against copyright infringers. We wait with baited breath.

Redmans Solicitors are London intellectual property solicitors and London employment lawyers. They are specialist trademark solicitors and provide employment law advice.

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