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Sweeping reforms to IP court will save businesses time and money

01 October 2013

The Patents County Court has been renamed the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court after changes came into force on Tuesday, October 1.

These changes mark the completion of a package of court reforms, which the government has brought in to help businesses protect their intellectual property while saving them time and money. The Court will now sit as a specialist listing within the Chancery Division of the High Court.

The name of the court has been changed in order to clarify its jurisdiction, which covers all intellectual property (IP) and not simply patents.

Minister for Intellectual Property, Lord Younger said the changes make the court a viable place for businesses of any size to protect their IP and ensure access to justice at a fair cost for all rights holders and other businesses.

"These changes will also make it easier and cheaper for businesses in the long run as they will now be better able to understand and navigate the specialist IP courts if a dispute occurs," he added. "This will reduce the cost of legal services and level the playing field for smaller business."

Clive Davenport Chairman, Trade and Industry Policy Unit, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) welcomed the formal introduction of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court. "These changes should make it easier and cheaper for businesses, particularly SMEs and our members to identify, understand and navigate the specialist IP courts when they need to resolve an IP dispute in the courts," he said.

"Small businesses stand to benefit from better protection of their work. A better understanding of the IPEC’s purpose will enable them to identify the appropriate court to resolve their intellectual property disputes. We will continue to support and monitor the progress of the court based on the real benefit to our members – small businesses who make a huge contribution to the UK economy."

Catherine Wolfe, president of the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (ITMA), was similarly welcoming of the government's announcement. “These long-awaited moves will make it so much easier for businesses to navigate their way through the court system,” she said. “In the best tradition of clear branding, it now does what it says on the tin: the Patents County Court has been renamed the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court. If you have a trade mark, design or copyright case, you now know where to take it.”

The name change is the most visible part of a package of reforms which the government claims will help businesses to protect their intellectual property and save them time and money.  Another change which will affect owners of Registered Trade Marks is the IPO’s new Fast Track Opposition procedure, which comes into force today. 

ITMA’s first vice president Chris McLeod explains how the new Opposition procedure at the IPO could reduce the costs and timescale involved in a standard trade mark opposition, particularly considering the reduced official fee of £100. 

“The new fast-track should be a quicker way of handling standard oppositions,” he said. “The conditions are that the case has to rely on a maximum of three earlier marks and the grounds must be limited to identical or similar marks and identical or similar goods or services. There will also be limits on the amount of written evidence permitted.

“We shall have to wait and see how popular this option is in practice, but it is certainly a move in the right direction.”

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