What is the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court

Written by Samuel O’Toole | November 30, 2023

Intellectual Property

The Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) is part of the Chancery Division of the High Court. The IPEC is based in the Rolls Building in London and was previously known as the Patents Country Court (PCC).

The PCC was established in 1990 to be a forum to the High Court where intellectual property claims could be brought. As “usual” High Court litigation can be very expensive and time consuming, the streamline procedure of the PCC (and the IPEC) was well received.

In 2013, the PCC morphed into the IPEC as we know it today. The Civil Procedure Rules (the rules of procedure that apply to court cases) (CPR) apply to the IPEC and Part 63 of the CPR, a special set of intellectual property rules, apply to claims in the IPEC. Part 63 of the CPR is what gives the IPEC its streamlined ability to hear and determine intellectual property claims in a usually quicker and cheaper alternative manner to the High Court.

If you have an intellectual property claim, the IPEC is usually a good place to think about commencing a claim. However, within the IPEC itself are the “small claims track” and the “multi-track”.

Generally, claims are suitable for the small claims track of the IPEC where the value us under £10,000 and they do not involve patents, registered designs, semiconductor topography rights or plant varieties. Claims that have a value of over £10,000 and/or involve patents, registered designs, semiconductor topography rights or plant varieties must be commenced in the multi-track of the IPEC.

One of the main benefits of the IPEC is its streamline procedure, cases in the IPEC are thoroughly case managed so that they can be brought to trial in a relatively swift manner. What this means is that there are likely to be less unknowns in IPEC litigation compared to the High Court. The IPEC also has a set of special rules relating to the costs that can be recovered, usually the maximum amount of costs that can be recovered from the loosing party are £60,000. This is very handy for litigants as it can be very clear as to what they would be on the hook for if things go wrong. It also places emphasis on the litigating parties to be efficient and not incur any unnecessary costs.

One of the disadvantages of the IPEC is that the maximum amount that it can award as compensation (e.g. damages or an account of profits) is £500,000. Where a claim is valued at over £500,000 a claimant party will have two options. Option one is to commence a claim in the High Court proper, where there are theoretically no caps on recoverability (or costs!), or limit the claim to within the IPEC cap.

Be careful though, although a claim can be commenced in the High Court, or the IPEC, it is possible for cases to be transferred from one to another. Often, issuing a claim in the correct court can save an opponent from gaining a tactical advantage and/or having to defend a “transfer” application.

The IPEC has a fantastic guide available on the Judiciary.uk website, although we wouldn’t blame you if you would rather forgo the 30 pages and speak to a lawyer at Briffa – we offer a free consultation so why not get in contact.

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