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A Dame, a Knight, and a new arena in which to joust

24 March 2011

The case of Dame Vivienne Westwood v Anthony Knight [2011] EWPCC 008 witnessed the first trial heard by HHJ Birss QC under the new Patents County Court (PCC) procedural rules.

Issues of trade mark infringement, copyright infringement, and passing off aside, the judgment has attracted interest because of Judge Birss’ flexible and streamlined approach to trial management.

In particular, the solicitors for the claimant complimented the new regime stating that it provided a “faster, cheaper way of getting expert justice in IP cases”. As an example, the Court ordered a telephone hearing a few days before trial in order to address issues which would have otherwise taken up valuable time at trial.

The case highlights Judge Birss’ hands-on approach to case management and makes the PCC look very attractive as a faster and cheaper alternative to the High Court, particularly for claimants who feel confident that they can fund their case within the £50,000 costs cap.

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