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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

That IPEC book: a review

This review of Intellectual Property Enterprise Court: Practice and Procedure is brought to you by Katfriend, fellow blogger and IP enthusiast Kingsley Egbuonu, who tweets at @KingsleyEgbuonu.

Kngsley first became fascinated by this court's predecessor, the Patents County Court (PCC), in 2011 when he assisted a private individual facing a copyright claim (the book reviewed here would have been useful to him back then: you can read his cry for help here).  Then, in 2013, he spent half a year researching into the effects of the Jackson Review of Civil Litigation Costs on litigation on the PCC, seeking to ascertain whether the reforms achieved the key objectives. This research also included the gathering of empirical evidence (via a survey) from IP practitioners who had conducted litigation before the court. The survey (which gathered 30 responses) was supported by the IPKat here.

This is what Kingsley writes:
To know how to conduct effective litigation in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) for England and Wales, parties and/or their legal representatives need to consult a number of primary and secondary sources including various parts of the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) and case law, particularly that of IPEC's predecessor, the Patents County Court (PCC). For a busy IP practitioner, this arduous task has now been made more comfortable with the publication of Angela Fox's Intellectual Property Enterprise Court: Practice and Procedure.
First, the book’s delightful and luxurious colour would brighten up your bookshelf, and it has a somewhat feel-good vibe to it. A busy practitioner would be very pleased to see that the Table of Contents and Index are both functional. The book is divided into ten seamless chapters, each of which comes with headings, subheadings and numbered paragraphs for added ease of navigation and reference. The spacing between paragraphs makes the each page readable and the footnotes are concise. There are 14 appendices at the back of the book.


There is no better way to start a book on the IPEC than to feature forewords by Mr Justice Birss and Judge Hacon, both of whom were also present at the book launch.

Left to right (above): Judge Hacon and Mr Justice Birss;
(below): Angela Fox and Judge Fysh, both of whom are standing
Moving beyond the forewords, the main content of the book is packed in 392 pages, or less, if one wants to strictly focus on the practitioner. Each chapter, save for chapter 1 which deals with IPEC’s history, begins with a brief introduction of its subject matter before dealing with common issues addressed within it. Chapters 2 and 3 guide the reader on how to plan a case, leaving chapters 4 to 9 to focus on covering all the common procedures and issues in a multi-track case in the IPEC. Chapter 10 is dedicated to the special procedures of the small claims track (SCT).

Restricted costs recovery and tighter judicial case management are the two most important features of the IPEC which are of the greatest concern to parties and/or their legal representatives. This book deals generously with them, particularly in chapters 5 (case management); 7 (evidence, experiment and disclosure); and 9 (costs).

There are many things that I admire in this book, but I will just state two. The first is that it makes use of examples such as draft Orders and statements of case. It also tells the reader which forms to use for applications (chapter 6), how to assist the court in managing the case, and how to minimise the risks of costs consequences; it also notes in various places the similarities and differences between the IPEC and other units within the High Court: the Patents Court and, generally, the Chancery Division.

The second, and more important, is that it explains the court’s approach on all the issues covered. For example, under the chapters for case management and applications, the reader will understand the importance of the case management conference; under the costs chapter, the reader will learn that the court will closely scrutinise costs incurred in case under each stage at summary assessment. Generally, the book offers clear practical guidance and commentary rather than merely regurgitating case law and/or rules. Where there is little or no guidance, the book cautiously offers a practical solution to the problem or issue. In some ways, the book can be described as expanding on or filling the void left by the IPEC Guides. The section on Norwich Pharmacal orders (see paragraphs 3 – 051 to 3 - 052) reminded me of Wilko Retail Ltd v Buyology Ltd [2014] EWHC 2221 (IPEC), 7 July 2014 [noted by the IPKat here].
The book is up-to-date as there have not been any significant changes or developments in law or rules since 22 April 2014. 
 Perhaps, the only real criticism, if one is to be pedantic, is that there are a few overlaps in various parts of the book, though this could be due to the interlocking nature of the IPEC regime. 

The book is written in a clear, concise and functional style which gives it a wide appeal. Aside from the obvious readership of IP practitioners, litigants in person -- especially those in the SCT -- should find this book incredibly helpful in handling very low value matters themselves. Law schools and legal advice clinics should also get a copy. Finally, this book would also serve as a blueprint for foreign Ministry of Justice officials or policy makers interested in adopting the IPEC model.

The bottom line

Angela Fox’s main mission was to explain the practice and procedures of the IPEC; she accomplished this task brilliantly using, among others, her experience as a practitioner, case law authorities and relevant parts of the CPR. Reasonable care was taken to remain within scope and, where necessary, reference is made to other texts for guidance. As she rightly points out on the first page, the book is designed to be used in combination with the current version of other sources including the IPEC Guides.

For a busy IP practitioner conducting litigation before the IPEC or one intending to do so for the first time, this book is the ideal reference handbook. At the moment, ‘Fox on IPEC’ is undoubtedly the seminal work on how the IPEC works.

Warning for Amazon purchasers: the best piece of advice I took away from the book launch is to search for “intellectual property enterprise court” instead of “Angela Fox”. Fail to heed this warning and you will encounter some titles with a less rigorous legal content (e.g. here and here) ....
Publisher: Sweet & Maxwell, ISBN: 9780414028685, Hardcover, 545 pages, Price: £175). No serious rupture risk.  Web page here.


Michael Factor said...


One should never judge a book by it's cover. Nevertheless, from the front cover thereof, I reckon the bottom line of Angela Fox' A second life will be a much more enjoyable a read than her work on the IP court.

Anonymous said...

Is Judge Fysh still Judge Fysh? He may be standing, but will he succeed? Are Judge Hacon and Justice Birss sitting? What is the difference between a Judge and a Mr Justice? A joke or a serious question? Is it time for my medication yet?

Anonymous said...

Are there any plans to release this digitally, preferably as an epub?

Angela Fox said...

I understand that Sweet & Maxwell are indeed considering a digital release on the Westlaw platform. Personally I think a text-searchable digital version would be very useful.

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