Scottish IP Court Reforms

New legislation, which came into force on 19 November 2012, is designed to make intellectual property actions in the Court of Session in Edinburgh, the equivalent of the High Court in England, more efficient.

The Act of Sederunt (Rules of the Court of Session Amendment No. 5) (Miscellaneous) 2012 makes significant changes to the current case management procedure for intellectual property actions, providing a compulsory preliminary hearing and granting judges wider powers to expedite cases as they see fit. Judges can make orders to restrict evidence and cross-examination, to disclose key issues in dispute and to seek outside reports or experts, as well as to restrict counter-claims. Such changes are likely to focus the issues in dispute at an earlier stage and, in turn, reduce costs for both parties.

In addition to the procedural reforms introduced by the Act, the changes include for the first time claims for passing off under the common law in the definition of types of IP actions.

These procedural reforms are a response to the introduction of a small claims track procedure at the Patents County Court in England and Wales on 1 October 2012. However, the small claims track was designed to settle low value IP disputes at limited costs. Whether litigants choose Scotland as an alternative forum in light of these new reforms remains to be seen. For some, capped costs south of the border could be the determining factor.

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Possible new .uk domain

Nominet, the UK domain name registry, has announced a proposal to introduce a new service, known as Targeted at businesses, it will focus on increased security, including verification of registration addresses, monitoring for malicious sites and digital signatures to reduce the risk of the site being hijacked. The domains would be identified with a ‘.uk’ suffix as opposed to ‘’. Should the new service go ahead, it will be important for businesses and owners of domain names with other suffixes to consider registering for the ‘.uk’ equivalent as well.

The proposal is for a phased release, giving owners of registered trade marks priority, followed by holders of unregistered trade marks, before the service is made available to all. When considering domain name registration as a trade mark, it is important to bear in mind that merely adding the suffix ‘.uk’ will not normally confer distinctiveness on an otherwise descriptive mark. However, any mark must of course be assessed as a whole.
It remains to be seen whether priority will also be given to registrants of the equivalent ‘’ domains because this is not currently within the Nominet proposal.

Nominet is currently seeking feedback on its proposals before the consultation ends on 7 January 2013. If they go ahead with the new service, it is likely that domain registrations will begin towards the end of 2013.

This entry was posted in UK Intellectual Property.