In a move targeted at small to medium sized businesses, the Federal Circuit Court (FCC) together with IP Australia has launched its National IP Pilot Scheme. The Scheme intends to provide greater access to justice and enforcement for IP owners by:

  • Significantly reducing the time and costs associated with enforcing IP rights; and
  • Providing greater access to ‘urgent relief orders’ of the Court where IP rights have been infringed.

Fast Tracking

Previously many litigants were experiencing delays of more than two years in the Federal Court of Australia (FCA) both in the hearing and eventual judgment of their claims. Now in the FCC, case management procedures will see IP cases come before the Court within three weeks of issuing proceedings, with matters to be determined within approximately eight to nine months.

Costs Slashed

Costs are expected to be reduced by nearly two-thirds when compared to that of the FCA. The FCC is expected to use its discretion to set specific maximum recoverable costs from the outset of the proceeding. This is likely to provide IP owners with more clarity and certainty prior to commencing legal proceedings.

Despite the reduction in time and costs, the Court will maintain its extensive power to award damages or an account of profit, or further make declarations as to future use and registration of the IP rights in question.

Key Take Out

Prior to the enactment of the Scheme, many IP owners were reluctant to take the next steps to enforce their legal rights, due to the time, cost and uncertainty associated with the court process. This initiative is likely to ease the burden on IP owners and should result in more cost effective and streamlined IP litigation cases.

In light of these changes, registration of valuable trade mark, patent and design rights remains paramount to any IP protection strategy. If you are looking to undertake IP registration, require an update to your portfolio, or believe there has been an infringement of your IP rights, our IP team has extensive expertise in this area.