IPEC (Intellectual Property Enterprise Court)

8 April 2017

The Intellectual Property Enterprise Court ("IPEC") is a specialist list within the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice that hears all kinds of intellectual property cases. It hears cases at two levels:
  • claims that can be tried in no more than two days where the amount sought by way of damages or accountable profits is £500,000 or less are allocated to a list known as "the multitrack"; and
  • IP claims other than those involving patentsregistered designsregistered Community designs, semiconductor topographies and plant varieties where the amount sought is £10,000 or less are allocated to a list known as "the small claims track."
Multitrack cases are managed and, if necessary, tried by circuit judges with experience of intellectual property litigation known as "enterprise judges". Small claims are managed and tried by district judges. 

Patents, registered design, registered Community design, semiconductor topography and plant variety cases where the amount claimed exceeds £500,000 or that cannot be tried in two days or less proceed in the Patents Court. All other IP cases proceed elsewhere in the Chancery Division or the County Court.

Multitrack cases in IPEC are managed very tightly by the court. Disputed issues are identified at the first case management meeting and evidence and disclosure are restricted to whatever may be necessary to determine those issues. There is a strict timetable and costs at each stage of the proceeding are capped. Unless the court orders otherwise, no more than £50,000 may be recovered from the unsuccessful party upon the determination of liability and £25,000 upon the taking of an account or an inquiry.

Strict rules of evidence and procedure are relaxed in the small claims track to assist litigants in person as far as possible. Oral proceedings are kept to a minimum with a single hearing to determine whether liability and the amount payable by way of damages or accountable profits. Directions are given in writing wherever possible and some cases are resolved entirely on the papers. District judges can award final but not interim injunctions. The costs that may be recovered from an unsuccessful party are limited to a few hundred pounds, mainly issue fees and reimbursement of expenses and lost earnings and a nominal contribution to legal fees where an injunction is sought.

IPEC was established by art 26 (b) (i) of the Civil The Civil Procedure (Amendment No.7) Rules 2013 to replace the Patents County Court which had been abolished by art 3 of The Crime and Courts Act 2013 (Commencement No. 3) Order 2013 implementing s.17 (5) and paragraph 30 (3) of Schedule 9 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013. S.287 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 had enabled the Lord Chancellor to designate any county court as a Patents County Court. The first county court to be so designated was the Wood Green County Court. Some years later, the Wood Green County Court ceased to be a Patents County Court and the Central London County Court was designated as a Patents County Court in its place.

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