New rules coming into force On October 1 2010 in the Patents County Court will limit costs recovery from the other side to £50,000. For those that may not be aware, the Patents County Court deals with all types of intellectual property issues and there is a recommendation from the CBI and the Jackson Review that this be renamed the Intellectual Property County Court to adequately reflect its purpose.
The Patents County Court was originally established to provide an alternative for Patent cases to be heard. It has evolved to a point where all Intellectual Property matters can be heard in the Patents County Court. The rules are being introduced in an attempt to streamline the process; to make it more efficient and more cost effective.
The headline grabbing issue is that the limit of the costs that can be recovered from your opponent has been capped.
There are two aspects to an Intellectual Property matter, which are what lawyers call a split trial. Basically two trials take place; the first to decide whether an infringement has taken place and the second to decide how much money you should be awarded if you win. The costs that you can recover from your opponent are capped at £50,000 for the former and a maximum of £25,000 for the latter. If the receiving party is not VAT registered then VAT is payable and if there are any cost awards for applications during the procedure which are dealt with on a summary basis then these are costs which are awarded in addition.
The main aim is to speed up the process which should be a positive aspect for those with limited time and legal budgets. Cases will be presented by written arguments. There will be no factual or experts evidence unless there is what is known as a cost benefit analysis and any trials will be limited to one or two days and there will be no cross examination of witnesses.
Following the introduction of this new cap, it will remain to be seen how popular these reforming steps will be. If you already have a case going through the Patents County Court and you think this might affect you, our understanding is that these rules will only apply to cases commenced after 1 October 2010.
We will be watching closely to see what effect this has on enforcement and will keep you informed In essence the new limits have been introduced to allow smaller organisations to take enforcement proceedings without the larger risks associated with litigation.
Niall Head-Rapson Partner at ACID accredited law firm McDaniel & Co