Failure to maintain local patent court could damage Scottish business
The Law Society of Scotland has warned that a failure to maintain a dedicated patent court in Scotland risks damaging Scottish business and could hit businesses which rely upon patents to protect valuable technologies and innovation.
The Law Society is now urging MPs to amend UK legislation to ensure Scottish inventors and businesses can continue to enforce or defend their intellectual property rights in a Scottish court.
The Intellectual Property Bill, once enacted, will pave the way for establishing a new patent court system in the UK. The Bill provides for (up to four) possible local divisions of the new Unitary Patent Court, but none are currently planned for Scotland.
At present, inventors and businesses in Scotland can litigate their patent rights in the Court of Session. The Law Society wants this right to remain. The Society has therefore recommended that the legislation is amended to ensure that the three separate legal jurisdictions in the UK - England & Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland - are each granted a patent court under the new system.
Gill Grassie, member of the Law Society of Scotland's Intellectual Property Committee, said:
"The Law Society is in my view rightly concerned that failure to secure a local divisional patent court in Scotland could damage Scottish businesses, which would no longer have an effective local option available to protect their patent rights. They would instead be forced to litigate or defend their position elsewhere in the UK or Europe.
"This would inevitably result in increased costs and inconvenience for inventors and businesses seeking to defend their patent rights. It is vitally important to our economy that a means to maintain and protect patent rights, as valuable intellectual property, is easily and locally accessible and affordable."
SNP MP Pete Wishart said:
"Crucial intellectual property rights are imperative in underpinning a successful economy and Scotland will undoubtedly suffer if we can't determine our own patent issues in Scotland. As well as depriving Scotland of centuries of experience in resolving these cases according to Scots law, Scottish-based businesses will have to defend themselves and litigate outside of Scotland in different jurisdictions creating all sorts of extra costs and inconvenience.
"I have supported and argued for a European-wide Unified Patent Court but this cannot come at Scotland's expense. It is almost beyond belief that the UK Government has once again overlooked Scotland when it comes to such critical issues for Scotland's inventors and creators and they must put this right as the Bill passes through parliament. The government must ensure that Scotland does not lose out."
ENDS 27 JANUARY 2014
Notes to editors
The House of Commons committee stage will take place on 28 January 2014.
The Intellectual Property Bill, once enacted, will pave the way for establishing a Unitary Patent Court system in the UK. The Bill can be viewed here.
The Intellectual Property Bill, as currently drafted, does not place any obligation on the Secretary of State to consider or confer divisional local jurisdiction on the High Court in England and Wales, the Court of Session Scotland or the High Court in Northern Ireland.
The Society has submitted an amendment to MPs, which would ensure that Scotland, England and Wales, and Northern Ireland are each granted local divisional court jurisdiction under the new Unitary Patent Court system.
The Law Society of Scotland's amendment can be viewed here.
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27 January 2014