Bringing cases in IPEC - do you need to sue multiple defendants separately?

We commented last year on the re-launch of the Patents County Court as the the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, or IPEC. The restyled court for dealing with lower value IP disputes efficiently and cheaply has proved popular. But a recent decision shows that the limits on the compensation recoverable in IPEC may be tighter than some had thought.

The IP court rules (part of the Civil Procedure Rules) say that in IPEC proceedings claiming either damages or an account of profits, the amount or value of that claim cannot exceed £500,000 unless the parties agree to waive the cap.

In a recent IPEC decision (OOO Abbott v Design & Display Ltd), the judge ruled that where a claimant sues more than one defendant in single proceedings, a single cap of £500,000 will apply to all of the defendants cumulatively. 

This means that an aggrieved IP-owner who wants to claim against more than one defendant should think carefully about whether they might be entitled cumulatively to more than £500,000. If so, they can either bring an action in the general Chancery Division so there will be no costs cap at all, or bring separate proceedings in the IPEC against each defendant, claiming up to £500,000 against each of them.

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