020 7405 4321

James Whyte


Year of call: 2005

James Whyte read Natural Sciences at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he gained the highest first class degree in genetics. He then undertook research at the Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna, and returned to Cambridge for a PhD in molecular cell biology. He was awarded the Max Perutz prize for outstanding achievement in a PhD, and continued his research at postdoctoral level. Before university, he worked as a computer programmer.

He undertook a law conversion course at City University, which he completed with distinction, and was graded outstanding on the bar vocational course. James was awarded several scholarships by Lincoln’s Inn and was called to the Bar in 2005. James’ practice is focused on patents but he also practises in the fields of copyright, confidential information, database rights and registered and unregistered design rights.

It didn’t take long for the major legal directories to recognise James Whyte as an up and coming talent in intellectual property. An emphasis on complex patent cases is underpinned by his capacity to grasp highly technical content, following his broad scientific education and a PhD in molecular cell biology. Given his early experience of working as a computer programmer and longstanding interest in information technology, James is particularly well placed to engage in cases involving electronics, telecommunications and IT, and is involved in ongoing mobile phone patent litigation. James is an author of Laddie, Prescott & Vitoria’s Modern Law of Copyright (4th ed., 2011; 5th ed.expected 2018) and has been involved in significant copyright disputes involving broadcasting (both terrestrial and satellite). He also has expertise in passing off and confidential information actions, and is well equipped to undertake work in registered and unregistered designs.

James has experience of major biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector patent cases (Pacific Biosciences v Oxford Nanopore Technologies, Chugai v UCB, Illumina v Premaitha and others, Regeneron v Kymab (High Court and Court of Appeal), Medimmune v Novartis, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd v Eli Lilly (High Court and Court of Appeal), Ivax v Glaxo, Actavis v Janssen, Monsanto v Cargill), including SPC issues (Medimmune, Viiv v Teva, Teva v Gilead) and other patent litigation ranging from simple mechanical patents with interesting legal points (Folding Attic Stairs v The Loft Stairs Company) through medical devices (Abbott v Medinol, Ireland) to magnetoresistive sensor technology involving complex physics (Siemens v Seagate, Northern Ireland) wind turbine control (Wobben v Siemens), electromagnetic underwater oil exploration (Electromagnetic Geoservices v Petroleum Geo-Services) and MRI (Varian v Elekta). He has also worked on the technical aspects of a large commercial arbitration relating to drug development, and is involved in an ongoing commercial dispute concerning drug development (Astex v AstraZeneca).

Outside the area of patents, further highlights include high profile media and entertainment cases such as Football Association Premier League v QC Leisure (satellite broadcasting of live football matches) and JHP v BBC Worldwide (copyright in Dalek-related material). James has appeared for the claimants in the long-running Vestergaard Frandsen v Bestnet action (High Court; High Court; High CourtCourt of Appeal; High Court), a breach of confidence dispute relating to insecticidal mosquito nets. Meanwhile, significant trade mark and passing off matters range from esure v Direct Line (Direct Line’s application to register a mouse-on-wheels trade mark) to Knight v Beyond (passing off allegations concerning Beyond's 'Mythbusters' television programme).

Trade Marks and Passing Off

Further Court of Appeal action saw James appear in esure v Direct Line for esure in respect of Direct Line’s application to register a mouse-on-wheels trade mark. In addition, James defended Beyond against passing off allegations concerning its 'Mythbusters' television programme, during a nine-day trial in Knight v Beyond.

esure v Direct Line [2008] E.T.M.R. 77

Acted as junior counsel in the Court of Appeal for esure in respect of Direct Line’s application to register a mouse-on-wheels trade mark.

Knight v Beyond [2007] F.S.R. 34

Acted as junior counsel for Beyond in a 9-day passing off trial relating to Beyond’s ‘Mythbusters’ television programme, having assisted during pupillage in an application ([2007] F.S.R. 7) for a costs capping order against the claimant.

Leofelis v Lonsdale 2006

Assisted in preparation for and during trial of commercial trade mark licensing dispute.


  • What the Directories Say
  • "He has a wonderful understanding of the technical aspects of the case. Clients like his clear and concise advice, and his cool and calm manner." "He combines a rigorous and thorough command of technical detail with clear and patient advocacy- a highly recommended junior for both technology and life sciences work"
    Chambers and Partners (Intellectual Property) 2017

    "He is clever, hardworking and has great judgement."
    Legal 500 (Intellectual Property) 2017

    "He is utterly trustworthy, a good advocate and a pleasure to work with."
    Legal 500 (IT and Telecoms) 2017

    "A good advocate, who is utterly trustworthy and a pleasure to work with."
    Legal 500 (Media & Entertainment) 2017

    "His preparation and analysis is second to none and he presents cases beautifully"
    Legal 500 (Intellectual Property) 2016

    "He is careful, always well prepared and confident on his feet"
    Legal 500 (Media & Enterntainment) 2016

    "Clients like him for his clear, concise advice and his cool and calm manner"
    Chambers and Partners (Intellectual Property) 2016

    "His previous experience as a computer programmer is a plus"
    Legal 500 (IT and Telecoms) 2015

    "Technically and scientifically impressive, he is hard-working and bright" 
    Chambers and Partners (Intellectual Property) 2015

    "He provides insight and support which are beyond his years"
    Legal 500 (Media & Enterntainment) 2015

    "Highly regarded for patent disputes"
    Legal 500 (Intellectual Property) 2015