22 February 2014

Enforcing Your Intellectual Property Rights without Going Bust

How to Enforce your Intellectual Property Rights without Going Bust from Jane Lambert

In my very first post, "Why IP Yorkshire", 10 Sept 2008 I noted that although Team GB may have done very well at the Beijing Olympics our inventors and entrepreneurs are nothing like as successful in the European patent application stakes. We trailed a poor 7th in the number of European patent applications lagging not only behind the economic super-powers, the USA and Japan, but also France and Germany with similar populations and GDP and even trail the Netherlands and Switzerland with a third and an eighth of our population respectively. 

The reason of our lacklustre performance was that start-ups and other small businesses, that are the mainspring of innovation in the UK as in most of our competitors, make much less use of the intellectual property system than their equivalents in other countries and that was largely because the cost of obtaining and enforcing intellectual property protection in the UK was considerably higher than in our competitors.

The costs of enforcing intellectual property rights was identified as a problem by both Gowers (Gowers Review of Intellectual Property, TSO 2006) and Hargreaves (Digital Opportunity A Review of Intellectual Property and Growth) to which Sir Richard Arnold and Sir Rupert Jackson have proposed solutions (see Intellectual Property Court Users’Committee Working Group’s Final Report on Proposals for Reform of the Patents County Court 31 July 2009 and Review of Civil Litigation Costs: Final Report Dec 2009).

Arnold proposed case management reforms that limit the issues that can be heard, the evidence that can be led, the duration of trials and this the recoverable costs of the litigation which I discussed at some length in New Patents County Court Rules 31 Oct 2010. Jackson proposed a new small claims track for the Patents County Court which I discussed in a series of articles which are listed at Patents County Court - the New Small Claims Track Rules 20 Sept 2012. The Patents County Court was abolished with effect from the 30 Sept 2013 and replaced with a new Intellectual Property Enterprise Court ("IPEC") which is part of the Chancery Division on 1 Oct 2013.

On the 15 Jan 2014 I gave a talk on these initiatives to reduce the cost of dispute resolution to Leeds Inventors Group. I mentioned the Intellectual Property Office opinions service which we discussed in Leeds as soon as the service was launched (see "IP Centre of Excellence: Patent Office Opinions"  26 Nov 2006) as well as mutitrack and small claims litigation in IPEC. in his report Hargreaves had urged HM government to press for a single European patent known as a "unified patent" to be granted for all the EU member states except Spain and Italy as though they were a single country. That has now been agreed and disputes under the unified patent will be referred to a special court for all the contracting countries. Under that agreement that court will be based in Paris and will have branches in London and Germany. I summarized the arrangements that have been made so far in my talk.

Should anybody wish to discuss this talk or indeed any matter relating to IP he or she should call me during normal office hours on 01484 599090 or message me through my contact form. You can also tweet me. write on my wall or contact me through G+, Linkedin or Xing.