A new small claims track was introduced into the Patents County Court (PCC) on 1 October 2012 with the aim of speeding up the court process and making it cheaper and easier to protect IP rights. Appropriate amendments have been made to CPR Rule 63, which governs IP disputes.
In 2010, Lord Justice Jackson led a review of the costs of civil litigation and recommended a small claims track in the PCC for IP claims with a monetary value of less than £5,000. He noted that allocating all IP disputes to the multi-track, didn't assist IP owners who might wish to enforce their rights for little monetary value eg a journalist who wishes to claim a few hundred pounds for the reprinting of his article without permission. Similarly, Professor Ian Hargreaves in his Review of Intellectual Property and Growth in 2011 recommended that a "small claims track for low value IP claims” be introduced to the PCC.
The small claims track will provide copyright, trade mark and unregistered design holders the option of pursuing basic IP disputes through an informal procedure. It is aimed at small businesses or individual creators who wish to protect their rights for little cost, generally without legal representation. Claims allocated to the small claims track will be subject to damages restrictions of £5,000 or less to ensure they are proportionate to what is at stake. However, injunctions, which are often the most important remedy in IP cases, will still be available.