Intellectual property (IP) disputes in the High Court jumped by a third last year, according to recently released judicial statistics.

At 562, the number of IP disputes in 2008 represents a significant increase over the 422 in 2007, and around two and a half times the 230 in 2006.

The number of copyright and design right cases increased by 66% from 172 in 2007 to 286 in 2008 – more than any other type of IP case.

Mark Finn, IP specialist at London firm EMW Picton Howell, said: ‘Intellectual property is an asset that is central to modern businesses. With the difficult economic conditions, businesses fight harder to enforce their IP rights to ensure that their profit margins and market share are well protected.

‘With manufacturing moving to overseas countries like China and India, where the enforcement of foreign companies’ IP is generally poor, companies are finding it more effective to bring their claims against UK businesses who subsequently handle those goods.

‘Companies have to take swift action to prevent copied products from being sold or proprietary information from being used unlawfully. That is why IP cases tend to feed through to the courts more quickly than other types of claims. This is still the case despite the credit crunch because companies often have no choice but to sue if they want to stop competitors encroaching on their territory.’