BUSINESSES in Scotland will face higher costs to protect their intellectual property (IP) if a dedicated patent court is lost, according to the Law Society of Scotland.

The Intellectual Property Bill, which goes before a committee in the House of Commons today, is intended to establish a new patent court system across the UK.

But none of the four possible local divisions of the new Unitary Patent Court is planned for Scotland.

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Gill Grassie, member of the Law Society of Scotland's intellectual property committee and a partner at Brodies, warned the cost of enforcing patents would rise if lawyers and firms had to travel to London or further afield to participate in court actions.

She said: "It means a lot of inconvenience and additional time, which could be a drain on the company's management resources.

"It pretty much automatically increases costs, even if you think about the basic things like travel and accommodation."

Ms Grassie highlighted Scotland's rich innovation history, from James Watt's steam engine improvements, to John Logie Baird's television, as well as in newer industries such as renewables and life sciences,

Ms Grassie voiced fears that losing out on the court could lead to intellectual property lawyers leaving Scotland to pursue their field elsewhere.

Patent rights can currently be litigated in the Court of Session.

The Law Society wants the three separate legal jurisdictions in the UK - England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland - to each have a patent court.