29 April 2011

Patents County Court: £500,000 Financial Limit

The recommendation of the Intellectual Property Court Users' Committee that was not implemented on 1 Oct 2010 when the New Patents County Court Rules came into effect was a £500,000 limit to claims. The reason for the late implementation of that proposal is that it had a mixed reception. According to the Committee
"Some approved of the Working Group’s proposal. Some thought that there should be a higher limit. Some thought that there should be a limit not on the damages or profits claimed, but on the value of the claim as a whole e.g. by reference to the annual sales, or projected sales, of products protected by the IP right (i.e. total sales made by the right owner, its licensee and/or the alleged infringer). Some thought that there should no limit."
Although there was no official limit to the value of a claim that could be brought in the Patents County Court, Judge Birss QC certainly took the value of the claim into account when he transferred Alk-Abello v Meridian Medical [2010] EWPCC 14 to the High Court on 9 Nov 2010 (see my case note of 9 Nov 2010).

Immediately after Alk-Abello the Intellectual Property Office carried out a consultation on setting a financial limit which I also blogged ("Settling the Limit on the Value of Claims Heard in the Patents County Court" (10 Nov 2010)). As a result of the consultation we now have a draft statutory instrument that sets a £500,000 limit (The Patents County Court (Financial Limits Order 2011). Art 2 (1) of the draft Order provides:
"In relation to all proceedings within the special jurisdiction of a patents county court and in which a claim is made for damages or an account of profits, the amount or value of that claim shall not exceed £500,000."
Art 2 (2) excludes from the value of the claim interest other than that payable under an agreement and costs.
There are also to be transitional measures in art 3 to cover claims that exceed that amount brought or transferred before these rules come into force. That date is likely to be 14 June 2011.

Anyone who wants to discuss this draft statutory instrument or intellectual property litigation generally can call me on 0800 862 0055 or through my contact form.

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