A government commissioned report has revealed a sharp increase in the number of infringement claims made in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court ("IPEC"), (formerly known as the Patents County Court) since it was reformed in 2010.
The report ("Report") entitled "Evaluation of the Reforms of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court 2010 - 2013", recently revealed by the UK Intellectual Property Office, scrutinises the impact of the reforms made to the Patents County Court in October 2010. The reforms were introduced "to improve access to the court, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises ("SME's"), primarily through streamlining the court's procedures, lowering the costs of litigation, and speeding up the resolution of claims".
The Report revealed that 272 cases were filed in the IPEC in 2013 compared to 110 in 2010 – an increase of almost 250%. It was noted that this increase was due in part to the £50,000 costs cap and that "the benefit of it is that litigants know their potential exposure before initiating a claim", and with improvements in the case management structure in the IPEC there has been a more fluid process of litigation.
An increase in settlement rates was also reported. The Report attributed this to the introduction of a £500,000 cap in damages which may be awarded in any single case.
In particular, the Report revealed there was a "strong increase" in the cases lodged by SME's, which was noted as in fulfilling "one of the key aims" of the reforms.
Baroness Neville-Rolfe, the UK's Intellectual Property minister, added: "The report shows that the reforms made to the old Patents County Court through the introduction of IPEC have been successful. Access to justice has greatly improved for all rights holders, but particularly for small and medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs".
It appears the IPEC reforms have achieved their goals and ultimately increased access to justice for SME's - but what do you think?
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