Jackson implementation lectures restart with patents court success story

Arnold: cases are being litigated which would not otherwise have been

Reforms to the Patents County Court (PCC) – including a costs cap – have been a “considerable success” and enabled more people to bring cases, the first Jackson implementation lecture in nearly nine months has revealed.

The reforms introduced a £50,000 costs cap for determining liability and £25,000 for determining damages or profits.

In addition, the court’s procedure was made simpler and cheaper, and a limit of £500,000 on damages/profits recoverable in the PCC introduced.

The reforms were recommended by the intellectual property court users’ committee and endorsed by Lord Justice Jackson.

Giving the 17th lecture in the Jackson implementation programme earlier this month – and the first since last May – Mr Justice Arnold said the “the indications so far are that these reforms have been a considerable success”.

He explained: “Whereas the number of cases issued in the PCC in both 2009 and 2010 was 102, in 2011 the figure was 157 and 2012 it was 202. Thus the caseload of the court has roughly doubled in two years.

“There is no evidence that significant numbers of cases have been bought in the PCC rather than the High Court, although it seems likely that some have been. Rather, it appears that cases are being litigated which would not otherwise have been litigated at all. Furthermore, anecdotal evidence suggests that the new procedures and rules have been generally well received.”

Future reforms – included in the Crime and Courts Bill and scheduled for this October – will re-constitute the PCC as a specialist list within the Chancery Division, following the model of the London Mercantile Court, which is a specialist list within the Commercial Court. The PCC will be renamed, probably as the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, and its jurisdiction widened to include all intellectual property claims.

As per Lord Justice Jackson’s report, the PCC has introduced a small claims track for cases worth no more than £5,000. This came into force on 1 October 2012 and so far 23 claims have been issued through it. “It is early days, but so far it seems clear that there is indeed a demand for this procedure,” said Mr Justice Arnold.