History of the Chancery Division

The Court of Chancery heard what we would now call intellectual property cases from the 18th century onwards. The earliest cases were copyright and patent cases, followed by passing off cases. After the first Trade Marks Act in 1875, the Chancery Division started to hear trade mark cases. Since then, the jurisdiction of the Chancery Division has expanded to include all forms of intellectual property. Since 1980 patent cases have been reserved to the Patents Court, which is a sub-division of the Chancery Division. Since 2013 smaller, less complex claims whose value does not exceed £500,000 have been able to be heard in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, a specialist list of the Chancery Division.