Small UK IP lawsuits get quicker and cheaper (in theory)

A long awaited development in UK civil procedure is due to make low value IP infringement claims quicker and cheaper.  It is called the small claims track, it will be open for IP infringement cases worth less than £5,000 and it will be heard by the specialist Patents County Court.

My friend Rosie Burbidge, a solicitor at Rouse (as well as a writer of the Art and Artifice art law blog and contributor to the famous IPKat IP law blog) wrote on the Guardian about this development.  This is (some of) what she said:

Until now taking legal action against others who copy creative work, brand names and logos or otherwise try to take advantage of someone else’s creativity has been beyond the reach of most people. That changed on Monday when the small claims track became available for intellectual property claims in England and Wales.

The small claims track is a simplified procedure for claims valued at £5,000 or less. The government plans to increase this limit to £10,000, although when this will happen is currently unclear. However, regardless of the damages level, injunctions may be awarded to stop people or companies from carrying on with their infringing activities….

More at The Guardian.

What this means for you:

Assuming that the PCC actually implements this properly:

  • Starting, and defending against, small value IP claims for e.g. copyright or trade mark infringement, should be easier and quicker in the UK
  • In particular, it should make issues like software cloning easier to litigate – though in practice that won’t help in the UK because UK/EU law is so hostile to software cloning lawsuits
  • But it still is going to cost some money and is still part of the legal process, so the usual requirements to take legal advice and be ready to spend money on it applies.  
  • In practice, it means that the majority of small value tech and games industry IP disputes which could be litigated still won’t be – but there will probably be an increase in some low value IP litigation. 

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