Intellectual Property Enterprise Court drama: best avoided, but we can help if needs be.
As members of our professional body, the CITMA, I recently took up the opportunity to shadow a judge at the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC).
The IPEC is a specialist court which has changed the nature of trade mark litigation. It’s more accessible. It used to be the case that litigation on these matters was extremely expensive and lengthy. Here maximum damages are £500,000. There’s a limit of £50,000 in legal costs that a winning party can claim from a losing party. Cases do not last for longer than two days (as opposed to weeks in the High Court).
The court handles cases in relation to intellectual property disputes, including those involving trade marks, which happened to be subject of the one I was shadowing.
This particular trial took some time to be fixed, and the witnesses were cross-examined thoroughly by the barristers on each side, which overall looked to be a pretty stressful experience – no stone was left unturned and the witnesses invited to recall events which happened years ago.
The judge and I discussed the issues relevant to the case, and he robed up to go into court. We then entered and he introduced me, I then got a bird’s eye view of everything that was going on. Over lunch, we further discussed the evidence and points which had been raised during cross-examination of the various witnesses, with the Judge asking my opinion on what had gone on so far – no pressure there, then!
I think the key take away from the day was that this could become an extra service we can offer our clients if it is ever required since Trade Mark Attorneys have rights of audience and can litigate before the IPEC.
However, I maintain that in all except the most serious cases, it is better to avoid going to IPEC and certainly being a defendant there because litigation involves not just the risk of costs, damages, but also the associated stress and potential loss of reputation.
You can do this by:
- Registering your trade mark, don’t just use it
- GETTING GOOD ADVICE! Use a specialist trade mark attorney
- Conducting a trade mark search before you start using a trade mark you have chosen
- If you are facing litigation, consulting with your attorney, being realistic and being willing to compromise