Small claims, small beer?
The Woolf reforms to civil procedure (1999) created three claim tracks under which civil claims could be handled at the County Courts. In essence, these reforms aimed to simplify the legal process thus expediting hearings and reducing costs. The Patents County Court (PCC), created in 1990 to reduce the cost of intellectual property (IP) litigation, at present only assigns IP cases to the highest value (multi-track), and thus most expensive, claim track due to their general complexity.
Following on from reforms of the PCC introduced in October 2010 the Ministry of Justice has proposed that a small claims track to handle simpler IP cases, in particular copyright and designs cases, should be created. A low cost means for individuals and small and medium enterprises to defend their intellectual property may therefore become available. Subject to the results of the on-going consultation, the small claims track of the PCC could be available from October 2012.
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