Litigation leap! But why are more people suing?

The IPKat has just been reading some fascinating data which has been issued on behalf of London and Milton Keynes-based law firm EMW Picton Howell. According to this release, headed "Court disputes over Intellectual Property jump 33% in the last year", we learn the following:

"• Businesses fiercely defending IP rights to protect market share in recession;
• More cases against importers, wholesalers and retailers rather than overseas manufacturers

Intellectual Property disputes launched in the High Court have jumped 33% over the last year [the IPKat is pleased to see a real figure; anectodal estimates had placed the rise as high as 70%] as businesses fight harder to protect their market share in the recession, ...

.... Out of all the IP cases, claims relating to copyright and design right showed the highest jump of 66% from 172 in 2007 to 286 in 2008 [the fact that the Community and UK unregistered rights cost nothing to acquire and cover between them a vast range of design features has almost given us Brits a sort of unfair competition law via the back door].

... Mark Finn adds that IP cases involving telecoms is an area where he expects to see more growth in 2009:: “The number of IP disputes in mobile telephony has exploded since the introduction of 3G technology. As mobile phones become ‘smarter’, they will incorporate more IP rights. This is likely to support a continued trend in IP litigation. With the recent emergence of high profile cases such as Nokia v iPhone, this could see patent cases in the mobile phone industry for some time to come.” [the IPKat's not sure that many of these cases will see the light of day, especially once technical standards-setting bodies, the competition authorities and the ever-increasing speed of technological change all militate against good old patent litigation]

The IPKat says, since we've got the rights and we've got the infringers, can we now have more suitably qualified specialist judges to try these cases, please ...! Merpel adds, is this increase (i) a ringing endorsement of the local legal system, (ii) a reflection of the increased volume of infringement, (iii) a direct consequence of the Intellectual Property Office's campaigns to raise awareness of IP rights or (iv) an inevitable result of the fact that the number of IP rights of all varieties, and the number of means of infringing them, just keeps on rising?
Litigation leap! But why are more people suing? Litigation leap!  But why are more people suing? Reviewed by Jeremy on Tuesday, November 10, 2009 Rating: 5


  1. I think explanation (ii) is the answer: the increase in copyright and design right cases will be almost entirely due to an increase in claims brought by PRS/PPL as struggling businesses cut corners and fail to renew their licences. I would also suspect that the increase of 66% under this head is responsible for the bulk (if not all) of the 33% increase across all IP rights.

  2. I haven't actually read the EMW article to find out what period is coverend in the analysis but a significant reason why I have issued considerably more IP claims in the past few months is because, since 22 June 2009, HMRC has been complying more fully with Article 13 of Council Regulation 1383/2003. Up to that date HMRC had detained counterfeit goods at ports of entry into the United Kingdom on the basis of accepting witness statements from brand owners as confirmation that the goods were infringing and therefore liable to forfeiture. Under the new procedure the onus has been put on the brand owner who must issue proceedings if the importer does not consent to destruction of the goods.


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