Cost of Copyright Disputes Cut for Businesses

Small businesses which need to go to court to protect their copyright and trademark rights will find the process less expensive, following the introduction of new laws.

The reforms, which came into effect on 1 October, stipulate that all copyright and trademark cases worth £500,000 or less must go before the Patents County Court (PCC), while higher-value disputes will automatically be heard before the high court. An earlier ruling came into effect this summer which set the same financial cap for patent and design cases.

Previously, a business with a legal case worth less than £500,000 could face litigation in either court with unknown levels of financial risk. The change in the law means that small businesses claiming copyright or trademark damages are less likely to face a potentially more expensive trip to the high court.

According to the Government, the new law would encourage more businesses to protect their intellectual property (IP). Recent figures from the Intellectual Property Office found that around one in five small firms had given up attempting to enforce their rights, largely due to fears over spiralling court costs.

Forum of Private Business spokesman Phil McCabe said that the change would help to protect innovative small-business owners.

“Our members have told us that the steep costs associated with going to court to protect their ideas are a real deterrent, even when they have a seemingly strong case. This change in the law should go some way to removing that very unfair barrier to small firms.”

Minister for IP Baroness Wilcox said the changes made the justice system “more accessible” for small businesses, and would give them more confidence to enforce their IP rights.

“Making it easier for small firms and entrepreneurs to use the legal processes will give them more time to concentrate on business activities, innovate and support economic growth,” she added.

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