Monday, 15 August 2011

Wuthering Sites: a drama for users of the Patents Court

It's amazing what you
can find when you do
a little digging
"On Friday evening, it seemed that the Patents Court Guide had vanished from the court’s new website. But after some digging I found it. This is my story".  So begins Vicki Salmon's tale of woe, high drama, anguish and the expectation of eventual happiness. If this scenario is one which resonates with you, read on ...
"Web access to IP court guides and diaries
Web access for the English courts used to be located at In April 2011 it was moved to a new site which is part of the Ministry of Justice and is to be found within However, the transition has not been completely smooth and navigating this new website to find the information which is required for IP litigation is not quite everything one might wish for. These issues have been taken up with the IP Court Users’ Committee and the Patents County Court Users’ Committee and I hope that some of these will be fixed in the near future. Until then the following may be of assistance.

The Justice website has an index set out along the top. Access to information on the courts can be sought under the “Organisations” tab: but the swifter access to the IP courts is through “Guidance”. From there click the “Courts and Tribunals” link and then select “Courts” from the blue menu on the left hand side, or go straight to “Courts” from the Guidance page ... or just click here.

The blue menu down the left hand side has entries for both the “Patents County Court” and the “Patents Court”. The information on the Patents County Court has been updated at least once, but manages to refer to both the current and previous PCC judges and to both its current and its previous location. The PCC is in St Dunstan’s House and the judge is Colin Birss QC. In any event, the information on this page should NOT be relied upon: it is not correct. Instead users should refer to the PCC Guide about where and how to start a claim and deal with listing. For example, this web page says to issue proceedings in the Central London County Court, but that function transferred to the Chancery Registry on 1 April 2011.  Also, the judge keeps his own diary and his clerk deals with listings.

The IP Court Guides

There is no link to the PCC Guide on the Patents County Court webpage. So where do you find it? Well it takes a bit of digging and is by no means intuitive.

You have to access the section for the Patents Court, rather than the section on the PCC. This page gives a one line introduction to the Patents Court and then some information about the Patents Court Guide. This text predates the production of the Patents County Court Guide. At the bottom of the page is a pdf labelled “Patents Court Guide”. Only it isn’t. This is the Patents County Court Guide ( Confused? Well, it seems that the administrators of the Justice website have not yet understood the differences between these Guides and that is probably understandable, given the overlap in their titles.

So what has happened to the Patents Court Guide – the one which says it covers both the Patents Court and the PCC? I could find no link to it on the Justice website. However, it is still available and we got there through a Google Search. The version last revised on 24 February 2010 can be found at It says it also applies to the PCC, but that is no longer the case and I understand that the IP Court Users’ Committee is intending to update this Guide in the near future. In the meantime, I think this is the most up-to-date copy.

Users will notice that the URLs for these two Guides are virtually identical. The only difference is whether the words “patents”, “court” and “guide” are separated by hyphens or underscores.

The IP Court Diaries

Diaries for the IP Court and the PCC can also be found on the Justice website. Access is from “Court hearing lists” in the blue vertical left hand menu on the Court page, from “Patents Court Diary” in the blue vertical left hand menu on the Patents Court page, by selecting “Daily Listings” on the page etc.

On, IP gets three listings in the blue menu down the left hand side – “Patents County Court”, “Patents County Court Daily List” and “Patents Court Diary”.

I am not sure why the first of these is there, as the page is blank. The PCC Daily List is, as one would expect, the list for the day (but it has not been updated since the end of July). The Patents Court Diary has four sections, but if you scroll through (e.g. Section 1) carefully, you will find that there are pages in there which are dedicated to the PCC diary as well as pages dedicated to the Patents Court diary".
Vicki Salmon (a UK & European Patent Attorney & Solicitor, IPasset) is also a great asset to the IP professions in the UK and Europe. Thanks, Vicki, for your hard work!

If you were wondering about the title, the meaning of "Wuthering" can be found here

Would any reader like to estimate how much professional time is wasted each year, how much frustration is experienced and how many mistakes are made simply because of the maze-like manner in which important information is concealed merely by the manner in which it is revealed?

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