New Patents Court in Scotland

Recently there has emerged a problematic situation among the intellectual property area. Intellectual property lawyers in Scotland have been alarmed by the possibility of having to litigate through the courts that are based in England under the new Unitary Patent Court system.

Currently, there is an Intellectual Property Bill going through the UK Parliament and thus, it creates this system.

However, Scottish members of the Law Society are encouraging MPs in the UK Parliament to make sure that Scottish inventors and businesses would continue to enforce intellectual property rights in a Scottish court. The other option that is being proposed is this to happen in one of the four local divisions of the new court, all of them being away from the border.


Currently, the Court of Session is the place to go to if you are an inventor or a business who wants to litigate in Scotland. Therefore, a recommendation has been made for an amendment in legislation which will allow the three separate legal jurisdictions in the UK, respectively England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, to have a patent court under the new system.

One of the members of the intellectual property committee of the Law Society of Scotland has said that there might be devastating effects on Scottish businesses if the legislation fails to secure a local divisional patent court in Scotland. Scottish businesses need to have an efficient local alternative to which they can turn to and rely on to protect their patent rights. Otherwise, they will have to litigate or defend themselves and their stance somewhere else in the United Kingdom or Europe.

One MP has stated that Scotland will bear its consequences if it cannot manage to solve its own patent problems.

If Scottish businesses have to defend themselves and litigate outside of Scotland in different jurisdictions, this means that they will have to go through various additional costs and inconveniences. Furthermore, this will deprive Scotland from all its experience in applying Scottish law for the resolution of cases. A support for an European wide Unified patent Court should not be in an expense of Scotland itself. The Intellectual Property Bill is going to a committee in the House of Commons in January 2014.



Data Protection and Businesses

In the increasingly digitised and electronic 21st Century, information assurance and protection has become increasingly important.

As more and more information is uploaded, stored and accessed online, more and more sensitive information is in cyberspace. Exposure of such information can compromise a person’s personal details, financial details, medical records, or business records. Such information can be very sensitive. The risk of such information getting into the wrong hands can lead to identity theft, fraud, or industrial espionage. As more sophisticated criminals and gangs are now moving online and exploiting weaknesses in business networks, the risk of such information being found and exploited by criminals is very real indeed.

Measures have been implemented over the last decade to fight such online cyber-crime. Many nations have implemented legislation (for example, in the UK the Data Protection Act) to address this very matter, and have set out regulations to be followed by businesses to protect their information. At a government level, governmental groups and committees, and intelligence agencies such GCHQ seek, provide (and act on) information in this new arena.

For businesses, such regulations and legislations can be seen to be procedural, bureaucratic and administrative headache- but can potentially be vital to the safety of the business. Proper safeguards and above all employee awareness and training are essential in preventing online information from being accessed by an outside party, or leaving their particular network open to cyber criminals by carelessness or negligence. It is vital that employees receive adequate training in areas such as handling and storing digital information correctly, keeping sensitive records and databases secure, and processing online payments.

Another point here concerns customers and clients. Particularly of concern for direct customer facing businesses (such as in the service industries) is the need to keep customer information and financial details secure. Once again, staff awareness and training, and proper procedures and due diligence are needed in such industries to prevent the theft of customer data. Under legislation, it is actually a requirement of businesses to implement a secure system to store customer information.

For some businesses, the threat of cyber-attacks is very real indeed. For technology and pharmaceutical, industries, for example, industrial espionage is very much a concern, and one that can cost a company potentially millions in stolen intellectual property.

Although good digital working practices and procedures can be laborious and time consuming- such measures can be vital in protecting a company. Digital theft can result in sensitive information being out in the open, a great loss in revenue, and an even greater loss in revenue. Although laborious, a comprehensive and secure IT infrastructure and set of working practices can be invaluable for any business.