Friday, 27 January 2012

Small IP claims: call for evidence

Back in November of last year, the UK government announced its plan to launch a small-claims service in the Patents County Court (PCC) this coming October. The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is now seeking suggestions as to how the new service should work. Also, it is reopening the now boring discussion as to whether the PCC should be renamed the Intellectual Property County Court in order to better reflect the range of IP cases it considers.

One of the key questions the IPO is asking is whether the new service should work in largely the same way as the general small-claims track for non-IP disputes iand whether the proposed £5,000 limit on damages would be beneficial. It also wants to know which specific types of IP disputes might best be suited to the new service and whether it should provide for interim injunctions.

If you want to make submissions, the closing date is 16 February 2012. Click here and here for further particulars.

PatLit wonders whether other jurisdictions have small claims procedures for their IP disputes. It would be good to learn of any successful experiences in this field.

1 comment:

MaxDrei said...

Perhaps a German patent litigator can comment. Seems to me that the German system of litigation is tailor-made for small claims, so why not small patent claims. Thus:

1. At the outset, the judge settles the "value of the action". Liability to legal costs if you lose is limited to the amounts in a published Tariff of fixed fees. Small value = small liability.

2. Litigation is a first rather than a last resort. Got a problem? Ask Uncle Judge to rule on it. Uncle Judge might not be too sharp on the distinction between evidence and mere attorney argument.

That said, representing yourself is unheard of. You'll surely only get attention if you appoint a lawyer. But there are loads of them around, many willing to take on a small value case for the low Tariff fee involved.

And, as we all know:

1. Germany is a patent friendly jurisdiction, where rights granted by the State after rigorous pre-grant examination of patentability are given a useful presumption of validity; and

2. Thanks to the German Employee Invention Act, the culture is that everybody files a patent application on everything, so there's bound to be lots of infringements of patents held by shallow pocket owners.