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A “small claims” track was officially launched at the UK Patents County Court (PCC), on 1st October. The new track will deal specifically with claims where the value of the claim is less than £5000 and with strict limits on costs.
The new track will deal with simple copyright, trade mark, unregistered design right and passing off cases only, and not patents or registered designs.
Small claims cases will proceed through an informal hearing, rather than through full case management currently in place for standard PCC cases. If both parties agree, the case may also be dealt with on paper by the judge. The remedies available are limited to damages or an account of profits, and an injunction to prevent further infringement, should the claimant be successful.
A recent review (the “Hargreaves Review”) suggested that as many as one in six SMEs cannot enforce their IP rights at all, due to costs. The PCC small claims track is intended to help SMEs to protect their intellectual property in a cost-effective manner and significantly lower the cost of enforcing IP rights in simple cases.
For more complex copyright, trade mark and unregistered design right litigation, and for patent and registered design cases, the PCC also has a standard track with costs capped at £50,000 and damages limited to £500,000.
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