Small Claims Track for IP Disputes Goes Live

At the beginning of October, the new small claims track for IP disputes was rolled out.  As with small claims for other types of dispute, the idea is to make the justice system more accessible.  For example, previously a small claim for £1,000 damages in respect of copyright infringement could result in the loser having to pay tens of thousands towards the other side’s legal costs – a hugely disproportionate situation.  With the new small claims track, claims of less than £5,000 can be heard without such serious costs consequences (while the losing party can still be ordered to pay some of the other’s costs, the amounts are relatively minor).

There are some limitations on this system.  In particular, it’s only available for claims for copyright, trade mark and unregistered design right infringement as well as claims for passing-off.  Furthermore, the judge hearing the dispute may decide that the issues involved are too complex and that the small claims procedure is not appropriate.  It is also open to the other side to argue that this is the case (if they don’t want the case to be heard using the small claims track).  However, broadly speaking, for smaller claimants, the small claims track should reduce the risks arising from litigation – in other words, they should avoid the situation where they risk end up being ordered to pay a huge sum to the other side to cover the other side’s legal fees if they lose.

If your rights have been infringed but you have been put off taking action because of concern about taking on a ‘goliath’ whose pockets are deeper than yours, then the small claims track may provide a route to help you achieve justice.  If you’d like to discuss your options or to enquire about the litigation insurance that our partner companies offer, give us a call on 0207 288 6003 or email us at INFO.

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