How to Enforce your Intellectual Property Rights without Going Bust
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These are the slides of a presentation that I gave to Leeds Inventors Group in Leeds on the 15 Jan 2014 and IP North West in Accrington on 16 Jan 2014. As ever it is necessary to distinguish between ...
These are the slides of a presentation that I gave to Leeds Inventors Group in Leeds on the 15 Jan 2014 and IP North West in Accrington on 16 Jan 2014. As ever it is necessary to distinguish between "intellectual property" (the laws that protect investment in branding, design, technology and works of art and literature such trade marks, registered designs, unregistered design rights, patents and copyrights) from "intellectual assets" (the objects of such protection such as trade names, logos, designs, inventions, novels, films, computer programs and websites). Except for bootlegging, counterfeiting and piracy (certain infringements of rights in performances, trade marks and copyrights on an industrial scale) infringement of intellectual property rights is not an offence in this country. Thus it is up to each intellectual property owner to enforce his or her rights in the civil courts. Unfortunately civil litigation in England and Wales can be very expensive and the party that loses the litigation usually has to pay the party that succeeds, A survey by IPAC Ithe Intellectual Property Advisory Committee) in 2003 compared the cost of litigation in England and Wales with the cost in France, Germany, the Netherlands and the USA and found that the UK and the USA were the most expensive countries. Costs in France, Germany and the Netherlands ranged from 10,000 to 50,000 euros whereas in England it cost over £1 million to bring an action in the High Court and between £150,000 and £250,000 in the County Court. Costs in the USA were comparable but there the losing party did not usually have to pay the lawyers' fees of the successful party. Thus, the UK was the most expensive and risky country of the developed world to bring an enforcement action. This appears to have had a dampening effect on innovation in that the number of European patent applications from the UK has trailed not just the USA and Japan but also France, Germany and even the Netherlands and Switzerland which have much smaller populations. Over the last 10 years HM government has tried to reduce the cost of dispute resolution. The Patents Act 2004 enabled IPO examiners to give advisory opinions on whether a patent was valid and whether it has been infringed. In 2010 new rules were introduced to limit the recoverable costs of litigation in the Patents County Court to £50,000. In Oct 2012 a new small claims track was introduced in the Patents County Court. The costs of litigation in the UK for small and medium enterprises is now comparable to those in continental Europe. The final change came in Oct 2013 when the Patents County Court was replaced by IPEC (the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court). HM government has also negotiated an agreement with all the EU member states except Italy and Spain by which the EPO will issue a European patent for all their territories as though they were one country (unified patent) and for disputes to be decided by a single Unified Patent Court in Paris,
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