The Patents County Court: a court with clout

One of the most striking features of the intellectual property (IP) landscape over the last year or so has been the burgeoning reputation of the Patents County Court (the PCC) under the leadership of HH Judge Birss. We have commented elsewhere on the benefits the PCC can bring as a competent, progressive, accessible forum for the resolution of all manner of IP disputes, particularly for smaller businesses for which the PCC offers an opportunity for cost-effective litigation of IP rights.

One of the many impressive aspects of the PCC’s early track record has been its robust treatment of those who fail to comply with court orders or whose conduct is in some way culpable. In Westwood v Knight, for instance, the PCC was faced with a defendant who persistently failed to attend court, ostensibly for health reasons. An exasperated HH Judge Birss stated that if the defendant did not attend at the next hearing date, then he would issue a bench warrant to bring the defendant before the court ‘to decide on the proper punishment for his contempts of court’. This firm approach was very much in evidence in May this year in the unrelated case of Utopia Tableware Ltd v BPP Marketing Ltd & The British Bung Manufacturing Company Limited, where HH Judge Birss showed that he was prepared to be as good as his word.

The case concerned a claim for infringement of design rights relating to beer glasses. The claimant company was granted an interim injunction on the basis of witness statements (signed with statements of truth) provided by two of its directors, Messrs Dodd and Core. That interim injunction was continued at a later hearing. The defendants subsequently admitted that they had copied the claimant’s design and the claimant told the court that it no longer relied on the directors’ evidence…

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