Who is using the Patents County Court (the 'PCC'), who are they choosing to represent them, what types of cases are being heard, and how efficient is the PCC? We wanted to see if there are emerging trends in the use of the court following the reforms to the PCC in October 2010.
Judge Birss QC has reiterated that the purpose of the PCC is "to provide cheaper, speedier and more informal procedures to ensure that SMEs and private individuals were not deterred from innovation by the potential cost of litigation to safeguard their rights". Our data reveal that there is increased confidence in the court's abilities and the number of cases in the PCC is increasing.
What is notable, and perhaps surprising, is that although smaller entities have been the most frequent users of the PCC, large undertakings have also appeared as parties in the PCC several times, both as claimants and defendants.
Our data also show that the PCC has heard a diverse range of IP disputes, including patents, but with copyright being the most common subject matter. As to timescales, although the 9 month target has often not been met, there is has been a decrease in the average time to trial following the reforms in 2010.
In terms of representation, our report analyses the categories of representation of parties in the PCC (for example, magic circle, top 20, IP boutiques, generalists and patent agents) and how this correlated with the size of parties.