10 November 2010

Setting the limit on the value of claims heard in the Patents County Court

On 31 July 2009, a working group consisting of the three Patents Court judges, His Honour Judge Fysh QC and representatives of the patent bar, CIPA, ITMA and various other interest groups published a report on Proposals for Reform of the Patents County Court.

For those who are not familiar with the English legal system, there are two tiers of civil courts of first instance in England and Wales:
  • the High Court of Justice with unlimited jurisdiction throughout England and Wales; and
  • a network of local courts with jurisdiction limited by geography and subject matter known as "the county courts."
S.287 (1) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 enabled the Lord Chancellor to designate any county court as a "patents county court" and to confer on it jurisdiction to hear and determined proceedings relating to patents and designs. There has only ever been one patents county court at any one time, Two courts have been designated and both of those have been in London. First, there was the Edmonton County Court, then, in 1994, the Central London County Court. As Sir Rupert Jackson observed at paragraph 5.2 of his interim report on costs, the Patents County Court had not been a success, initially because of its procedures and original location at Wood Green, and later because it offered no cost-saving or other advantage over the High Court.

In their report the working group recommended changes to the Patents County Court's procedure, limits to the costs that a successful party can recover from unsuccessful parties and a £500,000 limit to the value of claims. The procedural changes and the costs limits were introduced at the beginning of October. I blogged about them in "New Patent County Court Rules" on 31 Oct 2010.

There is now a consultation on the the limit to be set to the value of claims. That began at the end of October and will remain open until 3 Dec 2010. In a consultation paper, "Setting the Limit", HM government announced its intention of limiting the value of claims in the Patents County Court from the outset to avoid the need for lengthy and protracted transfer applications but it has not yet chosen the figure. Members of the public who want to contribute should address their submissions to

Copyright and IP Enforcement,
Room 3B49
Concept House
Cardiff Road
Newport
South Wales
NP10 8QQ
United Kingdom

E-mail: IP Enforcement
Fax: +44 (0) 1633 814922

Patents County Court Practice: Westwood v Knight 27 Nov 2010

New Patents County Court Rules 31 Oct 2010

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