Another significant blow against speculative invoicing after serious judicial scrutiny
Another round of speculative invoicing taken against alleged illegal file sharers has failed to succeed after scrutiny in the High Court.
A company called Golden Eye International had sent letters to a number of people it said illegally downloaded a film called Fancy an Indian. After winning a default judgement made in the small claims court against one person, Mohamed Maricar, this order was overturned by Judge Birss in the Patents court in October.
This is because Golden Eye failed to comply with the provisions in the Copyright Designs and Patents Act (CDPA), Civil Procedure Rules (CPRs) and Patent County Court Rules.
Read more: Golden Eye and Ben Dover file sharing news
The company could not therefore proceed with the case against Mr Maricar, or drop it until it followed the Patents Court ruling to join with Ben Dover Productions; another rights holder.
It did this before a case management hearing on 9 December, and lodged a bid to have the case against Mr Maricar dropped; which was accepted by the court. Although the company could issue new proceedings against Mr Maricar, his legal advisor Kingsley Egbuonu told us he didn't think such action likely.
"We were very fortunate to have Mr Francis Davey on a pro bono basis for Mr Maricar. These companies will have to obtain the court's permission to bring the claim again," Mr Egbuonu said.
There is one significant difference between the claims bought by notorious law firm ACS Law and Golden Eye. While both firms had failed to join with the copyright holder, which is a breach of the CDPA, Golden Eye had broken another significant law.
Once it had sent letters to alleged illegal file sharers, if these were not answered or contested, it lodged a claim for money it said it was owed using money claim online.
This however is the procedure used to make a claim in the small claims court and can't be used for breach of intellectual property rights.
This failure was picked up by Mr Egbuonu when approached by Mr Maricar. The case was referred to the Patents Court in October and also commented on by Judge Birss.
It is not known how many claims against people Golden Eye may have lodged using money online but Mr Egbuonu said it knew of at least one other person.
Ralli Solicitors which was also at the October hearing representing another person Golden Eye accused of illegally downloading the same film was no able to comment at the time of going to press.
Mr Egbuonu said as far as Mr Maricar is concerned the case should now be over as they have failed to prove the claim against him.
"We are not pursuing the case any further for costs. The client is already exhausted with the whole process. Having a CCJ on your credit report as well as dealing with High Court Enforcement Officers is not a good experience especially when you are innocent. It is really important that one should never ignore these letters, rather seek immediate legal advice."
We have contacted Golden Eye and Ben Dover Production's solicitor for comment but at the time of going to press have not heard back.
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