Legislation helps SMEs protect intellectual property rights in Patents County Court


Legislation helps SMEs protect intellectual property rights in Patents County Court

Jenny Williams

A law has come into force to make it easier for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to protect intellectual property such as copyright and trademarks.

The law ensures lower value cases will be dealt with at the less costly Patents County Court (PCC). It also introduces a new damages cap of £500,000 for all claims to the PCC.

Baroness Wilcox, minister for intellectual property, said the Patents County Court (Financial Limits) Order (No.2) 2011 legislation will make the justice system more accessible and encourage businesses to protect and enforce IP rights.

"These changes provide clarity on the legal processes, certainty over the risks and give small enterprises the confidence to stand on an equal footing with financially stronger companies," said Baroness Wilcox.

The changes have been made in response to fears of High Court costs from small businesses trying to enforce IP rights. Evidence included in Ian Hargreaves's Digital Opportunity report showed one in five SMEs had abandoned attempts to enforce rights.

The Digital Opportunity report follows the six-month independent review of IP and Growth, led by Ian Hargreaves. The review of copyright laws is aimed at updating legislation for the digital age, including legalising the practice of copying music and films.

A review of the changes will take place in 2014.

The UK government recently published a guide to help businesses steer clear of infringing IP laws >>

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