Posted on 15/10/2013

The PCC gets a re-brand – but has anything else changed?

On 1 October 2013, the Patents County Court (PCC) was renamed the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC).  So, why the change, and what do you need to know?

In 2010, a raft of changes was introduced to the PCC with the intention of reducing the cost, timescale and complexity of litigation, the idea being that this would make litigation a more attractive and accessible option for intellectual property (IP) owners of any size and means to defend their rights.

The revised streamline procedures have proved hugely successful, making the PCC a viable forum for individuals and businesses, SMEs in particular, to defend their IP rights in a more cost-effective, expedient, way.

Several key reforms that made the PCC a more attractive option include, in particular:

  • the introduction of a scale of recoverable costs, capped at £50,000;
  • damages capped at £500,000;
  • less disclosure and witness evidence;
  • a time limit on case hearings of 1 to 2 days; and
  • the creation of Small Claims Track for copyright, trade mark and unregistered design cases with a value of up to £10,000.

The successful reforms will remain in the new IPEC, which will essentially function in the same way as the PCC.

A key driver for the re-brand is to reflect more accurately the broad IP jurisdiction of the court.  It is not simply a court for matters relating to patents, as suggested by the previous name ‘Patents County Court’.

The IPEC will hear matters relating to patents, designs, trade marks, passing-off, copyright and other IP rights.  In particular, the court will hear cases including:

  • infringement of patents, designs, trade marks, copyright and other IP rights;
  • revocation or invalidity of patents, registered designs and trade marks; and
  • amendment of patents.

Aside from a new name, the court is no longer a ‘county court’, but will now sit as a specialist listing within the Chancery Division of the High Court, placing it on an equal footing to the rest of the High Court.

It is hoped that the IPEC will continue to build on the successes of the reformed PCC, making litigation a more accessible option for clients of any size to defend their IP rights.

If you are aware of a potential infringement of your existing IP rights and wish to investigate your options for taking action, or would simply like more information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Wilson Gunn