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Changes to the Law to Protect Patent and Design Rights

The government has announced that it expects small and medium sized businesses to benefit from a new law which gives them easier access to justice to protect their patent and design rights. The introduction of a  damages cap of £500,000 for claims made in the Patents County Court (PCC) means smaller businesses seeking damages up to that amount are less likely to have to resort to the High Court which could prove more costly.

The Patents County Court (Financial Limit) Order 2011 sets out to create a clearer definition of what disputes can be heard in the PCC and which ones should go to the High Court. Under the previous system businesses with a legal case worth less than £500,000 could face litigation in either court. This potentially exposed them to unknown levels of financial risk.

According to the press release:

‘The change in law will ensure that lower value, less complex cases, which would typically involve small businesses, will automatically fall within the jurisdiction of the lower, cheaper PCC. Therefore the risk of having costly disputes over where the case should be heard will be reduced. In the past some companies were put off protecting their rights due to the uncertainty of how much it would cost.’

Minister for Intellectual Property, Baroness Wilcox said:

‘Maintaining an effective and efficient intellectual property framework for businesses is not enough to drive innovation. We must offer businesses a more accessible justice system for them to enforce their rights. By making it easier for small firms and entrepreneurs to use the legal processes it will give them more time to concentrate on business activities.’

‘These changes will help small businesses and encourage them to innovate. It will also provide clarity over the legal processes, certainty over the risks and give small enterprises the confidence to stand on an equal footing with financially stronger companies.’

Internet link: News release

Posted - 19/07/2011

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