Back
Effective 1 June, we have a new address: 34 Imperial Square, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL50 1QZ
Get in Touch Menu

An affordable forum for SMEs with IP disputes

05 December 2017

Intellectual property (IP) disputes in the High Court can be costly and complex, but did you know that there is a specialist court which may provide SMEs with a quicker and cheaper way to resolve them?

The Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) is in the Chancery Division of the High Court. The IPEC is intended to provide a cost-effective forum to hear IP disputes, as an alternative to the claim proceeding through the High Court in the usual way.

A specialist IP judge will take an active role in case management and ensure that the extent of evidence is strictly controlled (e.g limiting disclosure, expert evidence, and even arguments made at trial).

There is a cap on the value of the claim (currently £0.5m), along with an overall cap on recoverable costs which is (a) £50,000 for proceedings to trial on the issue of liability and (b) £25,000 for an inquiry into damages.

There is a time limit too, a trial in the IPEC should ordinarily last no longer than 2 days.

Even if a claim is likely to be valued at more than £0.5m the case can proceed in the IPEC if both parties agree. However, due to the more streamlined approach and reduced costs the IPEC is mostly suitable for smaller, shorter, less complex cases with a value below the maximum limit.

One of the purposes of the IPEC is to make litigation more affordable to businesses who wish to protect their IP, and avoid the more expensive process of the usual High Court procedure. It is often suitable for SMEs and can be an effective means to enforce rights in the market place, and to avoid being out-gunned by larger opponents with deeper pockets.

In the case of 77M Ltd v Ordnance Survey Ltd and others [2017] (IPEC) the judge in the IPEC refused a request by one party to have the case transferred from the IPEC into the High Court, on the basis that to do so would remove the smaller party’s access to the courts, and that they would otherwise be unable to fund the case.

Paul Gordon is a partner in our litigation and dispute resolution department. He joined Willans from a City law firm in 2005, and has experience in handling a broad range of commercial matters, including intellectual property, director and shareholder disputes, and engineering and construction cases.

We're here to help
Resources to help

Related articles

Landlords are off the hook rules tenancy case

Litigation & dispute resolution

A 2021 Court of Appeal decision suggests that landlords are off the hook if they failed to serve the energy performance certificate (EPC) or gas safety certificate (GSC) for an…

James Melvin-Bath LLB (Hons)
Associate, solicitor-advocate

The higher cost of proceeding to trial

Litigation & dispute resolution

Our litigation & dispute resolution partner outlines some of the commercial risks involved in proceeding to trial in an intellectual property infringement case. In trademark infringement and passing off cases,…

Paul Gordon LLB
Partner

Webinar: Spring commercial property law update

Litigation & dispute resolution

In this Spring update our experienced partners in commercial property and property litigation will share insight on several topics. The first is a look at development land and will include…

Willans
Solicitors
Contact us