As any IP rights holder knows, an interdict order is a highly effective tool which can be utilised to protect your IP if being infringed. A recent change in the rules relating to interdict orders is now in force which should be of interest. Of the many changes introduced by the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 (the “Act”), one in particular has captured the attention of IP owners across Scotland and left them considering what implications it could have on the enforcement of their IP rights. I am of course talking about the introduction of Scotland wide interdicts in the sheriff courts.
Prior to the introduction of the Act, a sheriff had the power to grant interdict orders which were limited in their effect to the sheriffdom in which they were granted. For example, previously an interim interdict granted in Glasgow Sheriff Court to prevent passing off would have no effect to prevent the passing off being conducted in, say, Helensburgh, despite the close proximity. As such, the only means by which to ensure that IP rights were being enforced throughout Scotland was to apply for an interdict in the Court of Session. Clearly, not all parties seeking to apply for such protection had the financial means to take advantage of this option.
The Act now means that a sheriff has the power to grant interdicts (including interim interdicts) which have effect throughout Scotland. These are known as “extended interdicts”. If an extended interdict is breached, the Act allows for breach proceedings to be brought in a range of sheriffdoms – whether this relates to where the breach occurred; where the interdict order was granted or where the defender is domiciled.
Under the new regime, any action seeking payment for a specific sum of less than £100,000 now requires to be brought in the Sheriff Court (this does not include claims for an account of profits). As such, the availability of a Scotland wide interdict from the sheriff courts will be of particular assistance to a party who requires protection which is not limited to one sheriffdom but who is required to raise an action in the Sheriff Court due to the value of their claim. With the introduction of a considerable increase in the Court of Session court fees, there is a further incentive for parties wishing to obtain Scotland wide IP protection to consider raising such an action in a sheriff court.
In recent years, our top ranked IP practice has been involved in over 75% of all actions raised in the Scottish IP Courts, so the reforms introduced under the Act are of particular interest to our team. We understand the importance of protecting IP rights and that this is something which is increasingly at the top of strategic agendas for individuals and companies throughout Scotland and the rest of the UK. Please get in touch if this is something you’d like to discuss.