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The routes through court for intellectual property rights

27 January 2016

Intellectual Property (IP) is a creation of the mind, such as your brand name, product design, invention, or work of fiction.

Rights such as copyright, patents, designs and trademarks, as well as the law of passing off, exist to help exploit and protect those creations. Some rights may be registered and others arise automatically and benefit from varying degrees of protection.

Time and money is invested by businesses in building goodwill associated with their goods and services, and brand. It is vital to protect it and avoid infringing the IP rights of others. If a dispute cannot be settled by alternative means, then you may need to involve the court.

IP proceedings are brought in the Chancery Division of the High Court. However, you will need to choose whether to use the specialist Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC). The decision will depend on factors such as the rights you want to protect, the financial value and complexity of your claim, your attitude to risk, and the remedies you seek.

IPEC:

IPEC provides a cost-effective forum for lower value claims, and offers separate procedures for ‘small claims’ (up to £10,000) and ‘multi-track’ claims (between £10,000 and £500,000).

We always recommend seeking legal advice; however the small claims procedure is simplified for parties who are not legally represented, and legal fees may be recovered from your opponent.

The ‘multi-track’ is more complex, and less consumer-friendly, although legal costs may be recovered up to a maximum of £75,000. However, in very complicated matters this may only represent a small percentage of your bill.

Non IPEC cases in the High Court:

If you don’t involve IPEC the court is not so restricted in the awards it can make. Often used for higher value claims, it can also tactically place financial pressure on a defendant who will be mindful of the greater risks associated with losing at trial.

Our lawyers can help with protecting or enforcing IP rights, and where the costs associated with going to court seem daunting, our accredited mediators can advise you on the alternatives.

Partner Paul Gordon joined Willans from a City law firm in January 2005. He has specialised in dispute resolution since qualifying and has handled a broad range of commercial matters, including intellectual property, director and shareholder disputes, and engineering and construction cases.

Paul has acted for many notable clients including American Express, PizzaExpress, and a number of major financial loan companies such as GE Capital and Morgan Stanley, as well as many businesses with local interests.

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