Scottish intellectual property lawyers have reacted with alarm to the prospect of having to litigate through courts based in England under the new Unitary Patent Court system.

The system is being created by the Intellectual Property Bill currently going through the UK parliament.

The Law Society of Scotland today urged MPs to amend the bill to ensure Scottish inventors and businesses can continue to enforce intellectual property rights in a Scottish court rather than in one of four local divisions of the new court, none of which is planned for north of the border.

At present, inventors and businesses in Scotland can litigate in the Court of Session. The Law Society of Scotland wants this right to remain. It 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: '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.'

SNP MP Pete Wishart said: '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.'

The Intellectual Property Bill goes in to committee state in the House of Commons tomorrow.