HOW NOT TO ENFORCE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS - LESSONS FROM MEDIA CAT LIMITED V ADAMS & ORS
Following a series of increasingly bizarre events in this controversial illicit file-sharing litigation, apparently resulting in the closure of a law firm and the insolvency of the claimant, His Honour Judge Birss QC, the new Patents County Court judge, has delivered judgment on the claimant’s application to discontinue the proceedings. In his judgment, which severely criticised the claimant’s conduct leading up to the proceedings as well as the way the proceedings themselves had been conducted, HHJ Birss QC held that Media CAT’s service of notices of discontinuance on the 27 defendants involved was in breach of s 102 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act
1988 (“the 1988 Act”) as service had occurred without permission from the court to proceed with the case without joining the actual copyright owner to the proceedings. As a result, the notices were set aside as an abuse of process.
In those cases where a defence had been filed, the judge said that the notices were also abusive as they gave the actual copyright owner a collateral advantage in that they would then be free to pursue the actions without needing first to obtain permission from the court under CPR 38.7. Finally, the notices also had the effect of providing unwarranted collateral advantages to both Media CAT and the copyright owners, as they would have the effect of avoiding judicial scrutiny of the underlying claims.