Intellectual Property Dispute Resolution in the UK

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What to do if someone appears to infringe your patent, copyright, design, trade mark or other intellectual property right or accuses you of infringing his or her rights?

Litigation is expensive in England and Wales and indeed the other jurisdictions of the British Isles. Indeed, some would argue that England is the most expensive jurisdiction in the world for the enforcement of an intellectual property right.

Like the USA and unlike our continental neighbours we have an adversarial system of civil litigation which means that the parties choose the issues to be argued and the evidence upon which they wish to rely. That is usually very much more expensive than the inquisitorial system where the court chooses the issues that it wishes to try and the evidence that it wishes to consider.

Unlike the USA costs (which can include lawyers' fees and other expenses) of both sides are usually paid by the losing party. Contingency fees are not allowed and a conditional fee agreement under which a successful party's legal team can charge an uplift on their usual fees are not usually attractive.

So what to do? This article discusses what is involved in civil litigation in this country but also some of the alternatives. These include mediation, Intellectual Property Office opinions on the validity and infringement of UK and European patents, arbitration and domain name dispute resolution. It also mentions the new rules that speed up and reduce the cost of IP litigation in the Patents County Court.

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