Opinion

Protect and survive (if you're a small business)

Small and medium sized businesses can now benefit from legislation that came into force on 14 June which will help them protect their patent and design rights. 

The legislation, The Patents County Court (Financial Limits) Order 2011, sets up a damages cap of £500,000 for claims made in the Patents County Court. This means that small companies claiming damages up to that amount are less likely to need potentially more expensive trips to the High Court.

The Order creates a clearer definition of what disputes can be heard in the PCC and which ones should go to the High Court. Previously, a business with a case worth less than £500,000 could face litigation in either court with unknown levels of financial risk. The change in law will ensure that lower value, less complex cases, which would typically involve small businesses, will automatically fall within the jurisdiction of the lower, cheaper PCC.

The effectiveness of the new damages cap will be monitored with a formal review in 2014.
The Government is planning to expand the law further so the damages cap will cover cases of copyright and trade marks in the PCC.

This was first published in July 2011

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