1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Monday, 5 December 2011

Music and IP conference report: 3

Lunch over, but plenty
 food for thought
Lunch over, participants returned to face an enthusiastic Nick Kounoupias (DMH Stallard), who had come to sing the praises of the Patents County Court as a forum for copyright litigation -- and if necessary to answer questions on the MediaCAT case. Till the new Patents County Court (PCC) rules kicked in, litigation for small and medium-sized copyright businesses and individuals was simply not financially feasible. While the PCC has existed for some years, litigation in it was often inefficient and could be more expensive than High Court litigation.

Now, in the music industry, most ordinary infringement cases are unlikely to exceed the £500,000 upper limit on the award of damages by the PCC. A small claims track is also being introduced within the PCC, with an upper limit of £5,000 damages -- which may not sound like much but is great for most copyright cases. Incidentally, the PCC is due for a name-change to the Intellectual Property County Court -- which will be much more descriptive and therefore less misleading.  The High Court route remains, of course, and will always be more attractive for those wishing to bring many witnesses or attract more publicity.

More work is done on
paper than orally
The PCC deals with the main registered and unregistered intellectual property rights, as well as with ancillary contractual issues such as who pays royalties, how much they pay, etc.  Nick felt sure that eventually all PRS and PPL infringement cases will be brought there.  More work is done on paper than orally, and the current judge, Judge Colin Birss QC, is happy to decide matters on paper where appropriate. The new rules mandate specific disclosure only and aim for a two-day limit on hearings. Cases started in the High Court will be kicked down to the PCC wherever appropriate. Cost-capping, said Nick, means that there is far less risk involved in litigation by having to pick up the entirety of the other side's costs. His conclusion on the PCC was that it would change the face of intellectual property litigation -- quite literally, since it is housed in the Rolls Building, a beautiful new edifice which houses all forums for intellectual property litigation.

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