UK simplifies procedure for filing for copyright infringement, opening floodgates for new cases

Last month, the Patents County Court in the United Kingdom implemented an easier and cheaper process for prosecuting run-of-the-mill infringers called ’small claims track.’ Aggrieved copyright owners can use the small claims for cases involving copyright or trademark infringement, unregistered design rights and passing off (a trademark-related concept). However, cases involving patents, registered designs and plant variety rights would still have to be filed with the PCC’s multi track or in the High Court. The measure has already been widely publicized and a sharp increase in new claims is expected in the next several months.

The new system is meant to make the process of enforcing copyrights less complex and more accessible to individual copyright owners and small businesses. Claimed damages for cases filed with the small claims track may not exceed £5,000 and there is no requirement that the claimant retain legal representation which would significantly reduce the costs of pursuing infringers. There have been proposals from the Ministry of Justice to increase the damages limit to £10,000 which, if adopted, will go into effect early next year. The fee for filing a claim ranges from £300 – £120 depending on the amount of damages claimed.

Unlike in the United States where successful parties usually shoulder their own legal fees, the United Kingdom usually awards legal expenses to the winner. Should a party to a case in the small claims track choose to retain legal representation, however, the fees payable by the losing party are capped at £260 plus £90/day for lost earnings of parties and witnesses attending the hearing.

For more information, read PCC’s guide on how to submit a small claims track case, or visit PCC’s website: