Choice of Forum: Chancery District Registry or Patents County Court

Intellectual property cases other than those involving patents, registered designs, registered Community designs, semiconductor topographies or plant varieties cases may be issued out of:

  • The Royal Courts of Justice;
  • the Chancery District Registries at Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Birmingham, Bristol or Cardiff; or
  • the Central London, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Birmingham, Bristol or Cardiff County Courts.

Intellectual property cases other than other than those involving patents, registered designs, registered Community designs, semiconductor topographies, plant varieties, trade marks or Community trade marks may also be issued out of the Caernarfon, Mold or Preston District Registries or the Caernarfon, Mold or Preston County Courts.

Until a few months ago I tended to advise clients outside London to issue proceedings out of the nearest Chancery District Registry or associated County Court unless there was a good reason for litigating in London. That was usually because a local venue was more convenient for the parties and witnesses. In most cases it was also less expensive since legal representatives could attend case management conferences and interim applications rather than London agents. However, I am now encouraging clients from outside London to consider the Patents County Court for all intellectual property claims.

The Patents County Court now offers small and medium enterprises in Britain a forum for intellectual property dispute resolution that is at least as good, and only slightly more expensive, than the District Courts (Landgerichthof) of Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Mannheim and Munich (see “The New Patents Court Rules” 31 Oct 2010). The advantages of the Patents County Court are as follows:

  • there is a full time specialist judge;
  • the judge is supported by excellent court staff;
  • CPR 63.31 enables the court to control costs by limiting witness statements, experts’ reports, disclosure and the duration of trials;
  • interim applications are made in writing and considered on the documents;
  • case management conferences take place by telephone or video link wherever possible; and
  • there are scale costs for each stage of the litigation with an overall cap of £50,000.

Even before the new rules were introduced, the Patents County Court judge was able and willing to sit out of London to save time and costs (paragraph 5 of the “Patents Court and Patents County Court Guide”). The Patents County Court must now be the jurisdiction of choice even in a passing off dispute between two shopkeepers in Carlisle or an unregistered design rights case between boat builders in Barnstaple.

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About Jane Lambert

I am a barrister specializing in intellectual property, technology, media and entertainment and competition law. I specialize in helping SME (small and medium enterprises) protect and exploit their investment in brands, design, technology and the arts. SME require intellectual property (legal protection for their intellectual assets) at least as much as big business but their limited means restrict the way they can use it. Looking after such clients wisely requires skills and knowledge which have taken me years to learn.
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4 Responses to Choice of Forum: Chancery District Registry or Patents County Court

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