Changes to the Patents County Court

Various aspects of the civil procedure rules are to be updated with effect from 01 October 2010, in particular rules relating to the Patents County Court have changed in an attempt to reform the court into an effective forum for IP litigation.

Part 45 and PD 45 have been amended in order to cap costs in the PCC at £50,000 for liability and at £25,000 for inquiries as to damages and account of profits. This should be a major attraction to litigants as it limits their cost exposure. Further changes to costs include a ‘scale of costs’ this is basically a table showing maximum costs awards for the various stages of a case. For example there is a maximum award of £6,125 for the particulars of claim etc.

Part 63 and PD 63, the new regime expects the parties’ pleadings to form the basis of a case and where possible the PCC will determine the case based upon the statements of case and oral submissions with no automatic standard disclosure. The first case management conference is to identify the issues and determine the evidential steps required, for example: specific disclosure; a product or process description; experiments; witness statements; experts’ reports; cross examination at trial; written submissions or skeleton arguments. Further changes include a policy of trials lasting no longer than two days (where possible), limited cross-examination and restrictions on when applications to transfer claims to the High Court can be made.

It remains to be seen how popular these changes will make the PCC.

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