How to take someone to the court over an issue around intellectual property, such as copyright or a patent.
What cases you can bring to the court
You can use the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court if you’re involved in a dispute about intellectual property, such as:
- registered designs
- registered trade marks
For example if someone:
- uses your copyrighted work without permission
- sells a product you’ve patented
- makes money from your design
- uses a trade mark similar to one you’ve registered
The court can order the other side to pay you compensation if you win your case. It can award up to £500,000 in damages or lost profits.
For cases involving more money, you should apply to the Patents Court.
Hearings normally take place in the Rolls Building in London but can be held in other courts around England and Wales.
Before you start
You could ask the other side to stop using your intellectual property or see if you could license use of your work.
You may want to get advice on your options.
Help and advice
You can represent yourself at the court and may not need a lawyer – especially if you have a ‘small claim’ worth up to £10,000.
If you do need legal help, you could speak to a:
You won’t normally be able to claim back legal costs for a small claim, but can ask for costs up to £50,000 for larger claims.
You can get free advice from:
Court staff can explain how the process works, but can’t give you legal advice.
How to start a case
To start court action, fill in a claim form.
Take or send the form to:
7 Rolls Building
You will need to include the fee for starting the court case.
Pay the claim fee
The fee is based how much you want to claim from the other side:
Fees for starting a case
|Claim amount up to…||Court fee|
|£200,000||5% of the amount|
You can pay with cash, a credit/debit card, or a postal order or cheque (paid to ‘HM Courts and Tribunals Service’).
You may have to pay another fee for a court hearing later on.
Serve the form
The court will stamp a copy of your claim form. Give or send this copy to the person or company who will be defending the claim (known as the defendant).
You must also give them:
You can send the particulars later, but must do this within 14 days of giving them the claim form.
Send the court a certificate of service to confirm you’ve sent the documents.
After you serve the form
The defendant usually has 14 days to reply after you give them the particulars of claim.
They can ask for an extra 5 to 8 weeks by returning their form with an ‘acknowledgment of service’.
If they don’t respond or defend the claim you can apply to the court to make a judgment in your favour.
If they respond and defend the claim there may be a hearing, but the court can sometimes use the paperwork to decide on the case.
Case management conference
You may have to attend a meeting called a case management conference with the judge and the other side.
The judge will give you instructions on what steps you need to take before the hearing, for instance:
- filing and sharing documents
- calling expert witnesses
The judge will also put together a timetable for preparing all the documents and evidence in the case.
You will have to pay a fee for the hearing, which will be:
- £25 to £335 for a small claims case (see table below)
- £1,090 for a larger claim
- £1,090 for a patent, registered design or plant variety case
Small claims hearing fees
|Small claim amount||Hearing fee|
|up to £300||£25|
|£300.01 to £500||£55|
|£500.01 to £1,000||£80|
|£1,000.01 to £1,500||£115|
|£1,500.01 to £3,000||£170|
|more than £3,000||£335|
Small claims mediation
You could get some of the fee back if you settle the dispute more than a week before the hearing.
If your case is a small claim you can use a free mediation service, to help you negotiate with the other side.
This takes about an hour over a conference call.
For more details, contact the mediation referrals team.
Telephone: 0300 123 4593
The court hearing will usually take place at:
Thomas More Building
Royal Courts of Justice
Your hearing will be attended by:
- a judge – who will decide your case
- the defendant and their lawyer, if they have one
- you and your lawyer, if you have one
- any witnesses and experts
The hearing usually lasts up to a day, or 2 days for more complex cases.
Small claims hearings will be less formal than normal trials. For example, you won’t normally have to swear an oath before you give evidence.
The judge may decide to question the witnesses if there are no lawyers, but can leave this up to you and the other side.
You can bring along a friend or relative, but you’ll need to ask the judge’s permission if you want them to speak on your behalf.
The hearing will be recorded and the courtroom will usually be open to the public.
The court’s decision
In most cases you won’t find out the judge’s decision until after the hearing.
The court will usually send you a copy of the draft judgment, to check for typos or other textual errors.
The judge will then formally issue the judgment.
If you disagree with the decision
If you don’t agree with the decision, you can ask the court for permission to appeal.
Include your reasons for appealing.
If you’re allowed to appeal, your case can be reviewed by:
- another judge from the same court (if it was a small claims case)
- the Court of Appeal
- the Chancery Division of the High Court
If you’re turned down you can still ask the higher court for permission to appeal.
Enforcing a decision
You may need to ask the court to use bailiffs or take other steps if you’re awarded money and the other side won’t pay.
Find out more about how to enforce a judgment.
You will have to read and follow the detailed legal rules for using the court:
Daily court list
You can find out details of the court’s daily hearings at the end of the cause list for judges in the Chancery Division (Business and Property Courts).
You can read the court’s decisions on previous cases on the BAILII website.