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New ‘small claims’ service for intellectual property cases

The Government has confirmed its plans to introduce a new small claims service at the Patents County Court, in order to simplify the system for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) that wish to enforce their intellectual property rights, while reducing the financial risk to business owners through the introduction of new financial limits.

Many smaller businesses are restricted by the high costs involved in raising a case, with research suggesting that one in six SMEs have given up their claims as a direct result of court costs.

The new service will impose limits on fixed costs and allow damages of up to £5,000 per case.

The announcement follows recommendations from the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth, published earlier in the year. The report highlighted the need for better access to justice for SMEs.

Baroness Wilcox, Minister for Intellectual Property, said, ‘This is great news for small and medium-sized businesses as it will give them the confidence to stand up and protect their intellectual property rights. A small claims process means businesses will not have to fight through lengthy court battles instead of concentrating on growing their business’.

The service is expected to be introduced in 2012.