The Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) has an
objective to provide quick and cost-effective IP litigation. It
has proved to be popular.
A requirement for cheaper and quicker IP litigation was
identified back in the 1980s. Small and medium-sized companies
and individuals often found that traditional High Court
litigation was expensive and time-consuming. Many were not
prepared to enter litigation and take the risk of being liable
for the other party's costs if they were to lose.
Small and medium businesses are the core users of IPEC. It
has become recognised for high-quality decisions, and larger
companies are now also attracted to using it for certain cases.
Such cases have a limited number of issues and will not require
extensive discovery or evidence. However, IPEC has become a
victim of its own success and its diary has become fairly
One main advantage of using IPEC is the £50,000
($70,000) limit on the costs which a winning party can claim
from the losing party. This does not stop either party, but it
does mean that one with a limited budget can afford to try,
without fearing exorbitant costs if they lose.
There is a cap on damages as well; IPEC can only award
damages of up to £500,000 ($698,000). However, a damages
award may not be the main aim of a litigant. In many IP
disputes a successful outcome is a full injunction which
prevents a competitor from selling a competing product or
It is very important to prepare an IPEC case thoroughly from
the outset. IPEC does not look kindly on speculative cases; all
the issues and arguments must be presented at the start. Each
party needs to focus on a few key points. For example, only a
limited number of patent claims will be considered for
infringement or validity. There simply is not the time to
consider each claim in a lengthy patent.
Trial is often only a day or two at most, providing very
limited time for cross-examination and disclosure. It pays to
be extremely well-prepared and succinct in arguments. It can be
an extremely useful forum for settling reasonably
straightforward cases quickly.
Chapman + Co
18 Staple Gardens
Winchester SO23 8SR
Tel: +44 1962 600 500