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England and Wales Patents County Court
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2006 2008 2010 2011 2012 2013
In 2013 the PCC was renamed to become the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court.
In the legal system of Courts of England and Wales, the Patents County Court (PCC) in London is an alternative venue to the Patents Court of the High Court for bringing legal cases involving certain matters concerning patents, registered and unregistered designs and, more recently, trade marks, including Community trade marks and designs where the courts of England and Wales are competent, as well as other intellectual property cases such as copyright matters.
Established in 1990 by an order made under Section 287 (1) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, the intention was that the PCC should be a forum where simpler cases could be dealt with under a cheaper and more streamlined procedure than the High Court. One difference is that cases at the PCC can be argued by solicitors or patent agents, rather than having to be presented by separate qualified barristers (though a patent agent also has right of audience in the Patents Court in appeals from the Patent Office; a patent agent holding a Litigator Certificate has right of audience in any case before the Patents Court and in the court of appeal in appeals from the Patents Court).
In 2010 the procedures of the PCC were reformed to improve access to justice for smaller and medium sized enterprises seeking to litigate their intellectual property rights and to clarify the distinction between the PCC and the High Court. Formally, the PCC has the status of a county court; however there is no restriction on the complexity of cases it can hear. The new procedural rules introduce a cap on recoverable costs of no more than ?50,000. The level of damages is capped at ?500,000 for the court's "special jurisdiction" of patents and designs. Cases can be transferred from the PCC list to be heard by the High Court at the discretion of the PCC; the High Court also routinely transfers cases from its list to the PCC. As with the High Court, appeals from PCC decisions (if leave to appeal is granted) are heard by the Court of Appeal.
Since Autumn 2001, the judge appointed to the PCC was His Honour Judge Michael Fysh QC. In 2001 Judge Fysh retired to be replaced by His Honour Judge Colin Birss QC. Cases are heard by the judge or an appointed deputy judge.