The government is introducing a new court service to help small and medium-sized businesses protect their patents, copyright, trademarks and designs, in response to the Hargreaves report.

High costs of enforcing intellectual property (IP) rights can be off-putting for small firms. The Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth recommended the establishment of a small claims service to remedy this.

With the Patents County Court’s (PCC’s) new small claims service, fixed costs will be limited, and damages of up to £5,000 per case will be allowed.

Under the current IP system, which was revised in June 2010, the limit on cost is £50,000, with damages at £500,000.

This means that firms with claims less than £5,000 could still be liable for costs of up to £50,000 in trying to assert their rights.

Baroness Wilcox, minister for intellectual property, said: “[The new system] will give them the confidence to stand up and protect their intellectual property rights.

“A small claims process means businesses will not have to fight through lengthy court battles instead of concentrating on growing their business.”

Around 150 businesses could benefit from the service each year, according to figures published yesterday by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

The Hargreaves Review found that one in six (17 percent) of SMEs gave up trying to enforce their rights due to high court costs.

The new system is expected to be in place by November 2012.