On 20 August 2018, the Federal Circuit Court issued a Practice Direction for the streamlined management of intellectual property matters.
Most intellectual property matters are filed in the Federal Court. However, the Federal Circuit Court can provide an alternative avenue for pursuing some intellectual property cases. Like the Federal Court, it has jurisdiction to hear infringement actions concerning trade marks, designs and copyright and matters relating to consumer law. It can also hear appeals from the Registrar of Trade Marks and Registrar of Designs.
The streamlined process involves a first case management conference potentially within three weeks of filing the application to organise the steps in the proceeding as effectively and efficiently as possible. Cross examination is to be controlled, and trials are limited to no more than two days in the majority of cases. The judge may also conduct the trial entirely on the papers. After the final hearing, a decision will be given within a month where possible, and in urgent matters within a week.
The Court filing fees are also less than those in the Federal Court.
To accommodate intellectual property matters, the Federal Circuit Court has established Intellectual Property as one of its National Practice Areas and all intellectual property matters will be docketed to Judge Baird.
Whilst the Federal Circuit Court provides an attractive alternative, it may not be appropriate for all intellectual property matters. In particular, the Court does not have jurisdiction to hear patent matters. Another factor to consider is that the Court rules provide an “events based” cost regime, where the costs recoverable for each stage in the matter are likely to be lower than the costs actually expended. Whilst the Court has discretion to depart from this regime, it is probable that the costs recoverable will be less than those recoverable in matters heard before the Federal Court.
Nevertheless, the Federal Circuit Court provides an attractive alternative for some intellectual property proceedings given the quick and low cost outcomes.