One of the first tactical decisions to make when bringing an intellectual property claim is which court will be the most appropriate forum.
The factors that will play into this decision will be unique to your business and the circumstances of the case. They are likely to include:
· The size of the parties involved;
· The complexity of the claim;
· The value of the claim;
· The importance of the recovery of legal costs;
· The amount of disclosure and/or evidence required;
· Time constraints on the parties; and
· Other tactical considerations, such as how strong the claim is and/or how much pressure you wish to put on the other side.
At Stobbs we work with clients to ensure that litigation is handled in the most cost-effective way possible in order to achieve the desired outcome, taking full advantage of the more streamlined and flexible options available. With this in mind, the High Court should not be treated as the default forum for IP disputes. The Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) offers some distinct advantages over the High Court in the right case, and is often overlooked.
If a claim is of very high value and/or is highly complex or technical, meaning that large amounts of evidence will be involved and a trial listing of several weeks needed, then the High Court will be the correct forum within which to bring this claim.
In other cases, IPEC, a specialist IP court set up to handle those cases deemed less complex and/or of lower value, can offer a sensible alternative. There is a £500,000 cap on the maximum amount of damages (or account of profits) that can be awarded in IPEC. In our experience, this cap should be more than adequate for most trade mark disputes, where the main aim is to obtain injunctive relief in order to stop the infringing activity, rather than financial recourse.
In addition to the cap on damages, IPEC also caps costs in the main liability trial at £50,000. This limits a party’s costs exposure in a case, with can be extremely advantageous for small to medium sized enterprises looking to protect their IP rights on a budget. Further, IPEC uses active judicial case management to encourage parties to identify issues at an early stage and concentrate their legal resources on these, thereby preventing parties from running unmeritorious arguments. Instead, the parties are encouraged to focus only on those issues central to the case. This allows for a more streamlined approach, ensuring that the length of time from issue of the claim to trial can be set at around 12 months, with the hearing then lasting no more than two days.
Unlike many traditional law firms, we embrace the approach taken in IPEC, ensuring that we focus only on your best case and run the claim efficiently in order to reduce costs, so that we can then achieve the best outcome for you.