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James Abrahams QC


Year of call: 1997
Year of silk: 2016

James Abrahams read Law at St Anne's College, Oxford where he obtained a BA and BCL. He was also a scholar of St Anne's and twice winner of the Law Prize. He was called to the Bar in 1997 as a scholar of Gray's Inn. James became a member of Chambers in 1999.

James specialises in all aspects of IP, including patents, copyright, design rights, moral rights, database and related rights, registered designs, trade marks, passing off and breach of confidence. He is particularly well-known for his work in high-technology, complex patent cases, having appeared in the large majority of the major electronics, telecommunications and smartphone patent cases of the last few years.

Major patent cases include:

• Rovi v Virgin Media and TiVo (EPG and set top box functionality)
• Microsoft v Motorola (email protocols)
• Ericsson v ZTE (mobile telecommunications)
• Xena v Cantideck (damages inquiry in respect of rolling loading platforms)
• Liversidge v Owen Mumford and Abbott (medical auto-injector devices)
• HTC v Apple (smartphone interfaces)
• HTC v IPCom (mobile telecommunications)
• Nokia v IPCom (mobile telecommunications)
• LG v Sony (Blu-ray players)
• Apple v Nokia (mobile telecommunications)
• Motorola v RIM (mobile telecommunications)
• Wake Forest v Smith & Nephew and Mölnlycke v Wake Forest (wound dressings)
• Phillips v Harvard (video coders/decoders)
• Halliburton v Smith (oil well drill bits)
• Nokia v InterDigital (mobile telecommunications)
• Ferag v Muller Martini (print finishing machines)
• Glaxo’s Patent (Seretide® inhalers)
• Intel v VIA (microprocessors and chipsets)

Other major cases include:

• IPC Media v Media 10 (trade marks)
• Total v You View (trade marks)
• Coward v Phaestos (automated hedge fund software copyright)
• PRS v B4U (copyright in Bollywood musical songs)
• The Da Vinci code copyright case, Baigent v Random House
• 19TV v Freemantle (copyright in the format of ‘Pop Idol’)
• IPC Media v Highbury (copyright in magazine covers)
• Honda v Neesam and others (parallel imports of Honda motorbikes)
• British Horseracing Board v William Hill (the first case in which the UK and European courts had to deal with the database right created by EC Directive 96/9).


Media and Entertainment

James’ broad experience of media and entertainment cases ranges from IPC Media v Highbury (copyright case relating to Ideal Home magazine) to Carlton Film Distributors v VCI and VDC (application for Norwich Pharmacal disclosure against a duplicator of DVDs). In advertising matters he acted for Hutchison 3G in a comparative advertising case against O2 Holdings involving an application for a preliminary reference to the European Court of Justice. He also acted in Re: David Bedford and The Number, the first case heard by the Ofcom Content Board. It concerned former athlete David Bedford and the ‘118 118 runners’.


Associated Newspapers v Persons Unknown (2010)

An emergency application for an injunction against the publishers of a spoof of the ‘Metro’ newspaper.

Sienna Miller v Big Pictures (2008)

Claim for harassment and invasion of privacy by actress Sienna Miller.

Baigent v Random House (‘The Da Vinci Code’ case) [2006] FSR 719 (Peter Smith J); [2007] FSR 579 (Court of Appeal).

The authors of ‘The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail’ claimed that their copyright had been infringed by Dan Brown’s phenomenally successful thriller ‘The Da Vinci Code’. After a trial lasting in excess of 3 weeks, the case eventually turned on the extent to which copyright can protect ideas of a historical nature against use by others. The case was dismissed on the grounds that the
matters complained of were not protectable by copyright and the Court of Appeal upheld this decision. 

IPC Media v Highbury [2005] FSR 434

Alleged infringement of the copyright of Ideal Home magazine. The complaint related not to the words and pictures, but to the design and layout of the front cover of Ideal Home and some internal articles.


19TV v Fremantle and Simon Cowell (the ‘Pop Idol/X Factor’ case) (2005)

The claimant alleged that the television programme ‘The X Factor’ infringed its copyright in ‘Pop Idol’. The case settled at the door of the Court.


Carlton Film Distributors v VCI and VDC [2003] FSR 876

Application for Norwich Pharmacal disclosure against a duplicator of DVDs. Jacob J held that a Norwich Pharmacal order is also available where the intended claimant knows the identity of the alleged wrongdoer, but wants more information about the wrongdoing from a third party.

Cattleya v Capitol Films (2009)

Breach of film distribution agreement.


Young’s v Birds Eye (2010)

Representing Young’s in a complaint over an comparative advertising run by Birds Eye.

Google v Lavora and others (2010)

An action on behalf of Google against a large number of companies who were offering search engine optimisation (SEO) services in a misleading manner.

Science in Sport v Hi 5 (2009-2011)

An action for malicious falsehood and trade mark infringement arising out of comparative advertising.

Getty Images v JA Coles (2009)

Copyright action concerning use of library pictures on the Internet.

O2 Holdings v Hutchison 3G [2005] ETMR 62

An application for a preliminary reference to the European Court of Justice, in a case concerning comparative advertising.

Re: David Bedford and The Number (2003-2004)

Dispute between the former athlete David Bedford about The Number’s ‘118 118 runners’. It was the first case heard by the Ofcom Content Board. It accepted that there had been a breach of the
ITC Advertising Code but declined to prohibit further broadcasting of the advertisements, on the grounds that it would be disproportionate to do so. Mr Bedford did not institute legal proceedings.


PRS v B4U [2012] EWHC 3010 (Ch), [2013] Bus LR 664, [2013] FSR 19 (Vos J); [2013] EWCA Civ 1236, [2013] WLR(D) 385 (Court of Appeal)

Copyright action relating to songs written for Bollywood musicals. The case involved consideration of the operation of section 91 of the 1988 Act.

James has also appeared in numerous cases for Phonographic Performance Limited, the collecting body for copyright in sound recordings.

  • What the Directories Say
  • He is incredibly intelligent. He is a street fighter advocate who gets down to the nitty gritty and rolls his sleeves up. He always puts in the effort and is unafraid of the difficult cases- he gets the best out of them." "He is fantastic on paper and a very logical thinker. He is extremely hard working, has never let me down and makes it an easy working relationship"
    Chambers & Partners (Intellectual Property) 2017

    "A very clever barrister and a sharp opponent."
    Legal 500 (Intellectual Property) 2017

    "A tenancioius advocate and someone you want on your side"
    Legal 500 (Intellectual Property) 2016

    "A very astute and commercail senior junior, he's someone with excellent written and oral skills"
    Chambers & Partners (Intellectual Property) 2016

    "A very able and commercial barrister who produces quality pleadings"
    Legal 500 (Intellectual Property) 2015

    "He's astute and tactically excellent, and has great drafting skills" 
    Chambers & Partners (Intellectual Property) 2015

    "Confident, clear, tenacious and pragmatic, he has excellent written and oral skills."
    Chambers & Partners (Intellectual Property) 2014

    "Produces quality pleadings"
    Legal 500 (Intellectual Property) 2014