April 26, 2022
On World IP Day we ask: Why are IP litigation costs in England so high?
On World IP Day we ask: Why are IP litigation costs in England so high?

Brand owners – big and small – should be able to enforce their IP rights effectively and efficiently and it shouldn’t cost the earth to do it.

In principle, England and Wales have the perfect brand litigation forum - the streamlined court system of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC).  However, in practice, the costs of enforcing IP in IPEC are skyrocketing.  Costs are unpredictable and difficult to control if the other side behave inappropriately, and often end up by being counted in six figures.

This is prohibitive for small brands and doesn’t make financial sense for big brands, given that IPEC is meant to be used for less complex IP claims, with costs caps of £50k per dispute.

The high prices are not normally caused by the complexity of the case. In many cases there are just a few issues on which to adjudicate e.g. infringement of one or two trade marks (and  IPEC is the perfect forum for this). But once the full-service London law firms get involved, costs in an IPEC claim can become entirely disproportionate. For one simple reason: fee generation.

In IP litigation, the City law firms tend to ratchet up their fees by disputing anything and everything about the case, failing to adjust their behaviour in light of the fact they are in IPEC rather than the High Court, and expecting their opponents’ legal representation to match them point-for-point. 

Litigation to protect IP in this country has become a black hole for unchecked and skyrocketing legal fees.

The cost of IP protection is now also becoming a major barrier to commercial innovation, the very thing the IP litigation system should be protecting (and the whole reason why the IPEC was established).

To mark #WorldIPDay, Stobbs is campaigning to highlight the problem and to encourage clients to reduce IPEC litigation costs. Our aim is to deliver easier access to IP enforcement and fair bills for clients. Watch this space.

Trademarks /  Disputes /  IP basics

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