It’s all change at the Patents County Court. Firstly, the (somewhat confusing) name has gone, as part of a restructure of the English and Welsh court system. The Patents County Court is now known as the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, and has been made part of the High Court. The change of name is welcomed, as it now reflects the full gamut of rights that the court covers, from patents through designs, trade marks and copyright to some of the lesser known rights, such as database rights and semiconductor topologies. However, practically speaking, other than an increase in court fees, this move to the High Court will have little effect because the same procedures will be followed before the same judges, now re-titled “Enterprise judges”.
A bigger change in practical terms presents itself in the change of the nominated judge of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court. His Honour Judge Colin Birss was responsible for guiding the (then) Patents County Court through its recent rebirth. The court’s success of late has been in no small part due to him and in particular his robust case management in ensuring only relevant issues were litigated at trial. His success in the Patents County Court was evidently noticed as he was appointed earlier this year as a High Court Judge, as Mr Justice Birss, sitting largely in the Patents Court.
This, of course, left a vacancy in the newly renamed Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, which remained unfilled for several months. However, an appointment has now been made of Richard Hacon, a barrister (trial advocate) with a longstanding practice in Intellectual Property, as judge of this court with effect from 3 December. His Honour Judge Hacon, as he will now be known, is highly respected in the IP litigation community; whilst he was never appointed Queen’s Counsel – an honorific title bestowed on the most experienced barristers – it is widely questioned why he never applied for that title.
We wish His Honour Judge Hacon the best of success in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, and hope that he will continue the good work of Mr Justice Birss in keeping the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court as a robust and low cost forum for litigating simpler IP disputes.