What is IPEC?

IPEC is the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court.  It is part of the High Court and one of the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales.

IPEC is designed as a court which is particularly suitable for intellectual property litigation in which the financial value of the claim is under £500,000.

What types of cases can be brought in IPEC?

Intellectual property disputes that can be brought in IPEC include claims regarding patents, trade marks, passing off, copyright, registered designs and unregistered designs, database rights and technical trade secrets.

Examples include claims for patent, trade mark or copyright infringement and claims (or counterclaims) for invalidity or revocation of certain registered intellectual property rights.

IPEC can also hear cases where intellectual property claims arise in the context of a wider dispute, such as a contractual claim.

When is IPEC suitable for intellectual property litigation?

IPEC has the benefit of a streamlined procedure which is best suited for cases where:

  • The trial will take no more than 2 days (although this can be extended to 3 days in certain circumstances).
  • Very extensive disclosure of documents is not required and any disclosure can instead be limited to particular documents or particular classes of documents.
  • The number of witnesses is likely to be limited.
  • It is unlikely that particularly detailed or complex evidence or expert reports will be needed.

This more streamlined procedure means that parties should incur lower costs when involved in IP litigation in IPEC.

Of potentially even greater importance is the approach of IPEC when it comes to ordering the losing party to pay the winning party’s legal costs.  Although the “loser pays” system still operates in IPEC in all but the smallest cases, the amount that has to be paid will usually be limited by IPEC’s “cost cap” regime.

A party to IP litigation in IPEC will have a much better idea of what is likely to be its total exposure on legal costs should it lose that litigation than it would have if proceedings took place elsewhere in the High Court.

The procedural and financial limits that apply will largely depend on whether the claim is assigned to the Small claims track or the Multi-track.  Each track has distinctive features and these are summarised in the table below.

IPEC and Waterfront

Waterfront Law – The IPEC Guide

Waterfront Law has a long track record of bringing and defending cases in IPEC (and its predecessor, the Patents County Court). If you would like more details, please contact us.