For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

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Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Endangered species: IP court to be moved for its own good?

This Kat is officially off-blog for a couple of days while he attends to various pressing commitments, but sometimes things happen which send him flying back to the blogosphere for whole minutes at a time.  This is one such episode.

Via the excellent Arty Rajendra and Louise Butler (both of Rouse) comes what appears to be rather more than a rumour to the effect that something is happening to the Patents County Court (PCC) for England and Wales. Indeed, to the uninformed observer, it rather looks as if this highly successful experiment in lower-cost, user-friendly, rapid and pretty decent IP litigation for SMEs and individuals is about to be sucked into the High Court. No doubt the Great and the Good, who make these decisions on our behalf, made every attempt to consult not only the IPKat but also Merpel, but they must have been out at the time, possibly at the Old Nick (where they will next be on Tuesday 12 February, from 5.15pm till around 6.30pm, if  you'd like to join them).

Arty and Louise explain:
"The position, as we understand it is as follows:
* The Crime & Courts Bill will merge all the County Courts (which are currently regarded as separate courts) into one legal entity, which will be known as the County Court (Schedule 9 of the Bill).

* In relation to specialist County Courts, there are a number of amendments which repeal existing provisions providing for specific county courts with specialist jurisdictions. These specialist jurisdictions will instead be conferred on the single County Court. Unfortunately, there is no specific mention of the PCC.
'PCC' has other meanings too ...
The Bill doesn’t contain any references to abolishing the PCC. However, one of our sources at the PCC (not Judge Birss QC) has confirmed that the PCC is going to be re-constituted as part of the Chancery Division of the High Court. Further, the Bill proposes that all references to the PCC are removed from existing IP legislation and the meaning of ‘court’ contained in IP legislation will be amended to refer to the High Court only. What this will mean in practice is unclear. We understand that the change is likely to take effect in October 2013".
The Kats are now in a position to add a little information of their own. As they understand it, the PCC has to be moved for its own good. If it were left where it was, it would be governed by the new rules and regulations for the freshly-revamped and redecorated County Court -- and this would make it somewhere between difficult and impossible to carry on in its current, much-loved form. A corollary of this is that, as a de facto County Court functioning as part of the High Court, it will need a new name. Aware that the United Kingdom has had its share of retail failures in recent weeks, The IPKat thought it might be fun to recycle one of the newly-distressed brands for judicial purposes. How about the Blockbuster Court? Readers are invited to offer their own suggestions.

Merpel notes that Judge Birss's position is a slightly curious one, in that he seems to be hovering somewhere between the Patents County Court and the bit of the High Court which we know and love as the Patents Court. She thinks he'll jolly well have to be promoted, thus providing not only a reward for user-friendly competence but also an incentive to whoever takes over at the ex-PCC that, even if a leopard can't change its spots, a County Court judge can gain promotion to the High Court.

5 comments:

Peter Smith said...

A change of name for the PCC has been on the cards for a long time. In November 2011, the IPO stated:

In its response to Hargreaves the Government committed to consider renaming the Patents County Court to the Intellectual Property County Court by Autumn 2011. We have been considering the issues and require further evidence to establish the case for change. We continue to look for a low-cost way to change its name, which will enable businesses to readily identify which court resolves intellectual property cases.

Anonymous said...

What, I wonder, will be the effect on the right of audience currently enjoyed by patent attorneys in the PCC?

Anonymous said...

"The Patent Mezzzanine"

The three z's are an awful typo, but I like 'em!

Anonymous said...

Judge Birss certainly deserves a promotion for single-handedly fixing the PCC. His efforts have even been recognised in the US with the workings of his court being looked at by a US system in which patent litigation is ridiculously expensive (http://www.patentlyo.com/patent/2012/12/moving-forward-with-a-small-claims-patent-court.html)

In addition (apologies for going slightly off message) the anonymous comment on the typo reminds about the time when a senior attorney in my last firm, after receiving a complaint about a bill, instructed me to make it look as if I was not spending too much time on the client's work. Probably for liability reasons he did not clarify how to do that, but I wondered whether I needed to introduce typos to comply.

Anonymous said...

As long as the name is not as clunky as "The Person Appointed by the Lord Chancellor under Section 76 of The Trade Marks Act 1994".

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