Quicker Patent Trials In The High Court

A new pilot scheme seeks to take some of the time-saving procedures in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) and apply them to the High Court. London has two courts that deal with actions on patents and other IP rights. The IPEC is the junior one. It started life as the Patents County Court in 1990 and more recently was renamed and revitalized. The senior court is the Patents Court, part of the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice, and therefore a pillar of the traditional courts system. The IPEC deals with cases in which the trial has a maximum length of two days. Damages recovery is limited to £500,000, and there is a cap on the recovery of legal costs from the losing party. This costs cap is a maximum of £50,000. There are no such limits in the High Court. The recent reforms of the IPEC also include procedures giving the judge a greater measure of control than previously. They are generally considered to have been a success. The court has plenty of customers, who by and large seem happy with the services provided. The High Court is somewhat at the opposite extreme, in that there are no limits on trial length, and the parties largely dictate the speed and length of cases. Although there have also been reforms, some of the procedures can in this day and age seem clunky. The amount of evidence put before the court is largely in the hands of the parties. Cases tend to be long and can turn out more expensive than expected. There have been murmurings recently for some of the IPEC-type procedures to be airlifted into the High Court. This has now happened, with the establishment of a “Shorter Trials Scheme” (STS) in the High Court. It has been running since October 2015. It is a pilot scheme, set to last for two years although if it is popular then it is likely to be extended in some shape or form. The lesson from the IPEC is that with proper case management, actions which previously took many days at trial can be disposed of in one or two days. In light of the fact that the High Court has an unlimited jurisdiction, the upper limit for trials in the STS has been enlarged to four days (including pre-reading time for the judge). There is no costs cap. The other new procedures are largely similar to those in the IPEC but with some tweaks. The main features are:

The judge handling the Case Management Conference (CMC) will normally be the judge hearing the case at trial. Parties are encouraged to have applications dealt with on...

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