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From 1 October 2012, a small claims track for copyright, trade mark, unregistered design and database rights cases will be available in the Patents County Court (PCC). This new procedure is designed to provide greater assistance to private individuals and SMEs looking to protect their IP rights promptly and in a low cost forum. Before 1 October 2012, all IP claims would have been allocated to the PCC multi-track where the possible costs liability is much higher.
The small claims track may be used for claims up to a value of £5,000. However, it will be possible to obtain an injunction to stop passing off or the infringement of Intellectual Property (IP) rights. As interim relief will not be available on this track, claimants will have to wait until trial to get that injunction and the recovery of costs will be limited to certain fixed sums (e.g. fees for making the claim).
Claims relating to patents and registered design cases are not suitable for the small claims track and must be allocated to the PCC multi-track, which has costs and damages caps of £50,000 and £500,000 respectively.
In addition to the small claims and multi-track at the PCC, the UK Intellectual Property Office provides cost-effective alternatives to court action for resolving IP disputes, including hearings before an IPO tribunal and mediation services.