The Patents County Court has been around since 1990, but due to some recent changes it has now become quite a popular forum for smaller disputes. However, until this month its name remained two thirds misleading. It is certainly a court, but it is not restricted to hearing patent cases (it can also hear trade mark, copyright and design cases for example) and it doesn't really have anything to do with counties. However, that has now changed - as of 1 October 2013, the Patents County Court has changed its name to the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, thus clarifying its broader coverage of all IP matters and its broader geographical scope, as well as sounding a bit snazzier.
The name change is really the culmination of a number of recent reforms which have greatly streamlined the case management within the court. These reforms include a £50,000 cap on recoverable costs and an overall damages cap of £500,000 which facilitate budgeting and risk assessment for the parties in the dispute. There is also a time limit of 1 to 2 days on case hearings. This, together with the active case management which has been applied with great vigour and practicality by the judges, can result in cases being fully resolved within a few months from start to finish.