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Adrian Speck QC


Year of call: 1993
Year of silk: 2012

Adrian Speck QC is a Scholar of King's College Cambridge where he took a first class degree in Physics and Theoretical Physics. He obtained a Distinction in the Common Professional Examination before being called to the Bar in 1993 with the Wilfred Parker Prize.

Adrian's practice covers all aspects of Intellectual Property, Media and Entertainment and Information Technology law. His clients vary from large biotechnology and pharmaceutical corporations, telecoms manufacturers, substantial brand owners, broadcasters, publishers, television production companies and record companies to small businesses and private authors inventors and composers. He is co-author of The Modern Law of Copyright and Designs.

Adrian has acted in several of the leading cases concerning liability relating to the Internet. Most recently, he represented Cartier and other luxury brand owners in their claim against the ISPs for an injunction to block websites engaged in counterfeiting. He also represented the Motion Picture Association in their claim against the Newzbin website and again in their application to secure an injunction under s. 97A against BT to block that website.

Adrian regularly advises and appears in pharmaceutical and medical cases. Recent cases include Warner Lambert v. Generics and Actavis (pregabalin; second medical use claims) and Actavis v. ICOS & Lilly (tadalafil). Clients have included Accord, Actavis, Actelion, Baxter, Carefusion, Hexel, Hospira, Intas, Mylan and Teva. Adrian also acted for Medeva in the first case concerning genetic engineering to reach the House of Lords, Biogen v. Medeva. He has also acted in judicial review proceedings in the field of regulation of medicines and genetically modified crops. He appeared in the leading judicial review case on GM crops (ex p. Watson) where an organic farmer unsuccessfully challenged the legality of permission granted by the Minister and sought an order that GM corn near his farm be destroyed prior to it pollinating.

In the field of media and entertainment, Adrian acted for JK Rowling and her publisher defending a claim that a Harry Potter book was an infringement of copyright. He also acted for the same author in obtaining a 'John Doe' injunction to restrain unknown persons from publication of the then unpublished Harry Potter book, a copy of which had been stolen from the printers. Adrian regularly acts in disputes relating to television formats. He acted both for Granada and ITV in the Survivor/I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here dispute and for Fremantle in the Pop Idol/X Factor litigation which settled at the door of the Court. He also represented Guinness in the leading modern case on copyright and dramatic works in a case concerning a television advert for Guinness. Other clients have included Disney, UEFA and FA Premier League.

A significant part of Adrian's practice is concerned with complex telecoms and IT disputes often including both technical and FRAND issues. He acted for Unwired Planet in both technical and FRAND trials in the recent litigation against Huawei and Samsung. Other telecoms clients have included HTC and Nokia. Other major IT disputes have concerned design and operation of chipsets, SDRAM devices and RAID technology. In the field of computer gaming clients have included Playtech, Nintendo and Sony, the latter in a variety of disputes concerning the PlayStation series of games consoles, including disputes relating to chipping consoles to circumvent copy protection measures.

Adrian has appeared in a number of other leading IP cases including Specsavers v. Asda, Aerotel v. Telco, Scandecor v. Scandecor and Lancashire Fires v. S.A. Lyons.

Adrian has also appeared in several cases concerned specifically with jurisdiction challenges over different IP disputes including Fort Dodge v. Akzo and Pearce v. Ove Arup, the latter being the first time an English court entertained an action for infringement of a foreign copyright.



Media and Entertainment


Estate of Adrian Jacobs v. Bloomsbury & JK Rowling

Allegation of copyright infringement by JK Rowling in writing fourth in the series of Harry Potter Books. Acting for JK Rowling.

Bloomsbury & JK Rowling v. News International & Others

Acted for the publisher and author of the Harry Potter books in claim relating to the theft of copies of a book. The case is notable for the successful application to obtain a ‘John Doe’ injunction (an injunction obtained against persons who were unidentified).

Associated Newspapers v. Express Newspapers

Acted for the publishers of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday in a passing off and trade mark action to prevent publication of newspaper called Evening Mail by Express Newspapers.

Guardian v. Associated Newspapers

Dispute between newspaper publishers over use of the mark METRO on free newspapers handed out to commuters in Manchester. Settled on the eve of the trial. Acted for Associated Newspapers.

Scandecor Development v. Scandecor Marketing

Dispute between 2 publishers of posters and calendars. Case concerning ownership of goodwill in the SCANDECOR mark used in relation to posters calendars and the like when a previously multi national group was divided. The dispute also concerns the validity of the registration of trademarks and the use of own name defence. Acted for Defendants. This was the first case under the 1994 Trade Marks Act to reach the House of Lords, the result of which was a reference to the ECJ.

Film & Broadcasting

Jake Mandeville-Anthony v. Walt Disney

Acted for Disney in defending claim brought in respect of its Cars movie

UEFA v. Euroview

Unauthorised use of satellite decoder cards obtained in other EC states by pubs and clubs in the UK. Copyright infringement alleged. Case referred to Court of Justice by the High Court.

UEFA & Sky v. Briscomb

Illegal dissemination of broadcasts of Champions League matches over the Internet. Acted for UEFA and Sky in obtaining summary judgment.

19 TV v. Freemantle & Cowell

Case concerning the television formats Pop Idol and X Factor. Acted for Fremantle – the producer of both. The case settled at the court door.

Parsons v. Granada

Case concerning television formats (Survivor/I’m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here). Claim brought in copyright passing off and infringement of moral rights. Acted for Granada and ITV. The case settled before trial.

Miles v. ITV & Dream Street

Case concerning an alleged breach of confidence and infringement of copyright in making of the child’s television series called ‘Dream Street’. Acted for the production company.

Norowzian v. Arks

Acted for Guinness in the High Court and Court of Appeal in successfully defending a claim brought by a director of adverts alleging that a Guinness advert was an infringement of copyright in a short film he had made.

Football Association Premier League v. Vision On

Case concerning the sale of satellite TV decoder cards which allowed reception of Norwegian television which broadcast premiership matches live on Saturday afternoons. Acted for the Premier League in successful claim under s. 298 CDPA 1988 (unauthorised reception of transmissions).

Baywatch v. Home Video Channel

Dispute between the producer of the Baywatch TV series and the broadcaster of The Adult Channel, a late night satellite TV channel broadcasting adult material. The complaint concerned the broadcast of a series of films called Babewatch, which were inspired by Baywatch. Acted for the Adult Channel in successfully resisting an application for an interim injunction. The case then settled before trial.


Jonas Brothers v Polyglot Entertainment

Trade mark dispute concerning rights in the mark ‘Jonas Brothers’. Acted for the US band in resisting an interim injunction aimed at stopping their world tour.

BPI v. various Internet Service Providers

Acted for the BPI in several applications against ISPs for Norwich Pharmacal relief sought to combat online music sharing.

BPI (suing by Independiente & others) v Music Trading (trading as CD WOW)

Dispute between BPI and CD WOW over supply of non EC CDs to the public in the UK via the CD WOW website operated from the far east. The case settled just before trial. Acted for the BPI including in the various hearings after settlement relating to the representations made by the Defendant regarding the BPI and the settlement of the case.

Sutherland v. V2 Records

Passing off claim brought against pop music band called Liberty. Acted for the Defendants

Charly v. Immediate Records Inc. & Andrew Loog Oldham

Acted for Andrew Oldham for part of his dispute with Charly over the ownership of the rights in the catalogue of the Immediate record label.

Coulthard v. DMC

Dispute between a barrister who used to earn a living and a record producer/re-mixer and individuals he used to work with and their company. The case concerned claims in partnership, contract, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of constructive trust, knowing receipt of trust property, breach of confidence, infringement of copyright and infringement of performers’ rights. Acted for the Defendants in striking out the majority of the claim. The case settled before the trial of the remainder.

Buckler v. Weller

Action for an account between the former members of the pop group ‘The Jam’ which settled during trial.

Fiction Records v. Gumbis

Acted for three record companies (representing the BPI as a whole) in the High Court and Court of Appeal in a claim against a trader in bootleg recordings. The trader failed to deliver up all his bootleg CD and claimed that his displaying of empty boxes in his shop did not mean he had the CD corresponding to the boxes. He was found guilty of contempt of court.



  • What the Directories Say
  • "He is terribly clever, works incredibly hard, is really good at taking responsibility for the case and spots weaknesses really quickly. A real talent." "An extremely approachable QC who is very bright and quickly grasps complex matters"
    Chambers & Partners (Intellectual Property) 2017

    "A fantastic advocate." "A bright man who will always try to find a clever point"
    Chambers and Partners (Information Technology) 2017

    "He's the real deal and punches above his weight"
    Chambers & Partners (Media & Entertainment) 2017

    "He picks cases up at lighning speed and has the ability to cut to the heart of the matter"
    Legal 500 (Intellectual Property) 2017

    "He excels at strategy and maximises the outcome for his clients."
     Legal 500 (IT & telecoms) 2017

    "He is a master strategist, who works incredibly hard"
    Legal 500 (Intellectual Property) 2016

    "He has an unerring ability to identify the key issues in a case at an astonishing speed"
    Legal 500 (IT & telecoms) 2016

    "He has a remarkable track record of spotting the points that are going to win."
    Chambers & Partners (Media & Entertainment) 2016

    "He probes and asks question all the time, which means you see the weaknesses in your case very quickly" "He has a real ability to get on top of the technical detail and to balance it with the appropriate legal framework"
    Chambers and Partners (Information Technology) 2016

    "You think you've thought of all the arguments and then he comes up with something much more clever" "He's an excellent advocate who is very responsive and highly intelligent"
    Chambers & Partners (Intellectual Property) 2016

    "Recommended for IP-related disputes"Legal 500 (IT and Telecoms) 2015

    "He benefits from associated strengths in media and IT law."
    Legal 500 (Intellectual Property) 2015

    "A go-to barrister for heavyweight and deeply complex IP matters concerning patents, trade marks, copyright and designs. He is commended for his intellectual rigour, commercial sense and being easy to work with"
    Chambers & Partners (Intellectual Property) 2015

    "An excellent advocate, who is very responsive and highly intelligent"
    Chambers & Partners (Intellectual Property) 2015

    "He has a particular experience with regard to television format disputes"
    Chambers & Partners (Media & Entertainment) 2015