A small claims track has been introduced to the Patents County Court (PCC), which aims to speed up the court process and make it cheaper and less complex to protect intellectual property (IP) rights. The PCC small claims track came into effect on 1 October 2012 and is particularly aimed at small and medium sized businesses and entrepreneurs.

Despite its name the Patents County Court actually deals with a wide range of IP disputes and is not limited to those relating to patents. The new small claims track aims to provide a procedure for resolving straightforward IP disputes through an informal hearing. Claims allocated to the small claims track will be subject to damages restrictions of £5,000 or less. Additionally, there is no requirement for legal representation and this is intended to significantly reduce the cost of pursuing IP cases in the small claims track.

However, the small claims track is only available for certain kinds of IP cases such as those which relate to copyright, trade marks, unregistered design right and passing off. The small claims track is not available for claims concerned with patents, registered designs and plant variety rights. Claims which cannot be brought in the small claims track may be brought in the multi-track of the PCC or in the High Court.

Welcoming the announcement, Minister for Business and Enterprise Michael Fallon said:

“Small firms, whose intellectual property has been infringed, will have today a simpler and easier way to take their cases forward, by writing direct to the judge and setting out the issues. Lower legal costs will make it easier for entrepreneurs to protect their creative ideas where they had previously struggled to access justice in what could often be an expensive progress.”

More information about the PCC and the small claims track can obtained from the PCC website