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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acted for the same author in obtaining a 'John Doe' injunction to restrain unknown persons from publication of the then unpublished Harry Potter book, a copy of which had been stolen from the printers.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.



Trade Marks and Passing Off

Merck KGaA v. Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp

Case concerning contractual and trade mark position of two major pharmaceutical companies. A particular focus of the dispute was the activity of the Defendant on the Internet. Acted for Merck KGaA in the Court of Appeal.

Specsavers v. Asda

Trade Mark infringement and passing off case concerning advertising campaign adopted by Asda with slogans directed to Specsavers and with a new logo based upon the Specsavers logo. Acted for Specsavers.

Bouverie v. De Vere Hotels

Dispute between owner and operator of the hotel known as The Belfry. Contractual claim regarding an alleged change of name. Additional claims for trade mark infringement. Acted for Defendant (the operator).

London Rubber Co. v. Pasante

Acted for makers of Durex condoms in passing off action. Case concerned the palette of colours used for packaging. Case settled on first day of trial.

Excavation & Contracting v. Excavation & Contracting

Passing off claim concerning construction contractors.

Commissioners for Customs an Excise v. Top High

Dispute under EC Pirate and Counterfeit Goods Regulations concerning goods seized by customs on the strength of a trade mark application (i.e. not yet granted). Acted for the owner of the goods in successfully resisting forfeiture proceedings brought by the authorities in a Magistrates Court under the Customs and Excise Management Act. The Court refused to grant Customs a certificate that there were reasonable grounds for the seizure.

Trebor Bassett v. The Football Association

Case concerning the use of photographs of footballers in their England kit on cards given away with confectionery. Because the England 3 lions logo was visible on the players’ shirts this was alleged to be an infringement of the Football Association’s registration of the logo as a trademark for paper goods. Acted for Trebor Bassett in summarily obtaining declaratory relief that the trade mark was not infringed.

Wagamama v. City Centre Restaurants

Acted for the Claimant in its trade mark and passing off claim against a major operator of restaurants in respect of its RAJAMAMA restaurant. The case was the first under the 1994 Trade Marks Act to reach the Courts and has become a frequently cited judgment on the issue of confusion and association.

Modus Vivendi (formerly Ronson) v. Keen

Acted for the Claimant in this case, concerning the export of cans of lighter refill fuel to China. The cans had a get-up copied from Ronson cans but a wholly different trade mark. The case succeeded on the basis that the public in China relied upon the get-up and not the trade mark written in western script.



  • 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