ACID Welcomes Government Design Law Reform

SME Access to Small Claims IP Court set for 2012

After over a decade of representations to Government to improve access to a cost and time effective framework to address IP infringement issues for small businesses, ACID is delighted that the Government has confirmed today that a new small claims service will be introduced at the Patents County Court to give SME’s easier access to deal with copyright, patents, trade marks and design infringement. The Government announcement states;
“Currently, small firms are often put off enforcing their Intellectual Property (IP) rights by high costs. The new process will limit fixed costs and allow damages of up to £5,000 per case. New figures produced today by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) estimate that around 150 firms will benefit from the service every year, providing an annual boost to UK business of £350,000.”

The recommendation for a small claims service, made in the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth was supported by ACID.  However, ACID believes that the Government figure of just 150 firms potentially bringing cases through the new system seems unrealistically low in terms of the infringement cases it hears about on a daily basis.

Dids Macdonald, CEO of ACID commented “This is a significant step forward to support small businesses in their continuous battle against copyists but it will only work effectively if the system itself is user-friendly and free from cumbersome bureaucratic and legal process complications. For the majority of UK’s 232,000 design community who have less than 4 employees and find it cost prohibitive to pursue legal action this will be a welcome initiative. We hope it will act as a deterrent against copying and provide a boost for growth and development. It is further good news, following the previous announcement of a separate fast track Patents County Court system, that smaller designers and innovators now have an improved legal system to protect their intellectual property rights and business interests.  I would like to thank those that contributed their experiences to the ACID submission to the Hargreaves Review and we hope that our latest submission to the Government’s Call for Evidence on Design will continue to bring about design law reform in other areas, chiefly addressing the disparity between copyright and design right.”

Minister for Intellectual Property Baroness Wilcox said: “We hope to have the new system in place by this time next year”.

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