New law to help protect small businesses’ patent rights


A new law has come into force that will give smaller businesses easier access to justice to protect their copyright and trademarks.

The Patents County Court Order No. 2 2011 now clearly defines which copyright and trademark disputes should be heard in the Patents County Court (PCC) and which should be sent to High Court.

A damages cap of £500,000 for all patent claims in the PCC means that small and medium sized companies are less likely to face expensive fees at High Court and will have lower value, less complex cases settled at the PCC.

Baroness Wilcox, Minister for Intellectual Property, said: “These changes provide clarity on the legal processes, certainty over the risks and give small enterprises the confidence to stand on an equal footing with financially stronger companies.”

Current evidence presented to the recent Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth indicated that one in five (17%) of small and medium sized firms felt dissuaded from enforcing their IP rights due to potentially high court costs.

Baroness Wilcox commented: “A more accessible justice system will give companies greater incentive to protect and enforce their intellectual property rights. Making it easier for small firms and entrepreneurs to use the legal processes will give them more time to concentrate on business activities, innovate and support economic growth.”

The effectiveness of the damages cap will be monitored with a formal review in 2014.