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John Baldwin QC


Year of call: 1977
Year of silk: 1991

John Baldwin QC commands a towering reputation as a leading silk in intellectual property and media and entertainment. He specialises in every aspect of these areas, including patents, trade marks (including comparative advertising), copyrights, licensing, confidential information, passing off, design rights and malicious falsehood.

Industry-wide, John is considered “as good as it gets” where copyright cases are concerned. He has acted on high profile cases for Dan Brown, JK Rowling, Simon Cowell, Madonna, George Michael, Bjork, Michael Jackson and the Estate of James Joyce. Famed media and entertainment matters have been a permanent feature of John’s practice for the last decade or more, Brian Belo v Lime Pictures, a copyright infringement  and breach of confidence case concerning TOWIE (The only way is Essex) being a recent example, 19 TV v Simon Cowell, a dispute about the rights in  X Factor, being another.

John is extremely experienced in pharmaceutical sector patent disputes, supported by his doctorate in agricultural science. Further, he’s worked in a raft of other patent actions in areas ranging from construction and heavy machinery to bio-fuels and packaging. Recent high-value patent cases include Novozymes v Danisco, an action concerning enzyme stabilisers in animal feed, Ranbaxy v AstraZencea, an action concerning proton pump inhibitors, and Novartis v Johnson & Johnson, an action concerning extended wear contact lenses.

John also sits as a judge of the Chancery Division, the Patents Court, the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court and as an arbitrator. He also acts as a mediator.

Copyright, Database Rights and Design Rights

John acted for JK Rowling in Allen v Rowling and Bloomsbury (concerning the 4th Harry Potter book, Goblet of Fire), Lime Pictures and ITV in Belo v Lime Pictures (concerning the hit dramality TOWIE), Warner Chappell and the Michael Jackson Estate in Warner v GLE (a dispute concerning the exploitation of the Michael Forever tribute concert), Dan Brown in Baigent and Leigh v Random House (dispute with the authors of Holy Blood Holy Grail over the content of Da Vinci Code), Gary Brooker in Fisher v Brooker (dispute over the authorship of and entitlement to rights in the music to the iconic Procol Harum hit Whiter Shade of Pale) and the Estate of James Joyce in James Joyce v Macmillan Publishers (concerning a ‘reader’s’ edition of Ulysses). Further highlights include 19 TV Limited v Simon Cowell, the battle between Pop Idol and the X Factor.
John has appeared before the Copyright Tribunal on a number of occasions, most recently in the dispute involving the royalties payable for the TV broadcast of music videos, CSC Media v VPL.

Brian Belo v Lime Pictures and ITV

Big Brother winner, Brian Belo, claims he devised the format for The Only Way is Essex (TOWIE), the hit dramality soap, now in its 7th successful series. Lime Pictures, who were also responsible for Living on the Edge, hotly dispute the claim, contending it’s their own development of shows such as Laguna Bay, first broadcast on MTV several years ago.

Warner Chappell v Global Live Events

GLE organised a tribute concert to celebrate the life and work of Michael Jackson. The dispute concerned the film and broadcasting rights to about half of Jackson’s repertoire.

Allen v Rowling and Bloomsbury

The author of a book on wizards is arguing that JK Rowling infringed copyright when she created the Harry Potter series, especially the 4th book, Goblet of Fire.

Turner Access v Youngman

A case involved with the design rights in guard rails for scaffolding towers which reduce construction time several fold.

Fisher v Brooker

A dispute about who wrote and who was entitled to rights in the music of the iconic Procol Harum hit Whiter Shade of Pale. Hammond organist Mathew Fisher claimed credit for his composition after 38 years during which he had been content for Gary Brooker to be recognized as the author.

Baigent and Leigh v Random House

The Claimants alleged Dan Brown had copied a substantial part of Holy Blood Holy Grail in his creation of the best selling Da Vinci Code. The case was thrown out on the basis that if anything had been taken it was mere ideas.

CSC Media Group v Video Performance Ltd

A dispute in the Copyright Tribunal about the royalties payable for the broadcast of music videos on commercial television.

19 TV Limited v Simon Cowell and others

The creators and makers of Pop Idol, a well known TV show, contended that making and broadcasting The X Factor was an infringement of copyright and breach of contract.

Ultraframe v Eurocell

An unregistered design right appeal in a case concerning the design and construction of UPVC conservatory roofs.

Wrigley Chewing Gum v Nestle/Colgate

A design right action concerning the displays used for presenting products in high street shops.

Re Sylvia Plath

Advised the financiers of the biopic “Sylvia” about the use of extracts from Plath’s poetry in the film. There was strong resistance to the making of the film from her Estate.

Association of British Concert Promoters v PRS

A dispute concerning the amount which concert promoters should pay composers for the performance of copyright classical music. The ABCP urged that they should pay no more than is paid to composers of pop and other music whereas the PRS were demanding a significantly greater sum since composers of classical music were generally under paid.

Van Morrison v Penguin Books

A copyright infringement action arising out of the publication of a biography of Van Morrison. Penguin had used numerous quotes from the artist’s work and claimed it had a defence under the fair dealing provisions of the legislation.

Telegraph Group Plc v News Group Ltd

An action to protect the exclusivity of an article first published in the Daily Telegraph and the reputation of the Telegraph as a newspaper able to protect its sources. The story had been picked up by the News of the World who copied some of the original quotes from the Telegraph, added some others and claimed a scoop. There was a tit for tat counterclaim complaining off ragging out.

Estate of James Joyce v Macmillan Publishers Limited

An action for infringement of copyright and passing off. Macmillan had published an edition of Ulysses prepared from Joyce’s working papers and manuscripts and which had been edited to reflect a late rather than early twentieth century style.

STAR TV and others v CASH

An application to the Copyright Tribunal in Hong Kong to determine the amount which should be paid by HK television broadcasters to authors and composers for the exploitation of their music.

MCA Corporation v Charly Records and others

A case concerning the exploitation by the Charly companies of the famous Chess recordings which had been bought by MCA in the mid 80s.

Paramount Pictures Corporation and 10 others v Bermuda Cablevision Ltd

An action in which the major US film companies sought to control the distribution of their films to television audiences in Bermuda. The films in question had been transmitted by satellite to viewers in the US and the signal had been captured and exploited in Bermuda by the Defendant.

Virgin Retail Ltd v Phonographic Performance Ltd

A dispute in the Copyright Tribunal about how much Virgin Retail should pay for the right to broadcast Virgin Megastore Radio to its various retail stores. The case went to appeal where the judge rejected the approach of the Tribunal.

Baby Dan AS v Brevi Srl

A design right dispute about child safety barriers, the functional interconnection of the various component parts and the extent to which various items were aspects of configuration.

  • What the Directories Say
  • "In court he is a very prepared, determined and persuasive advocate. It is lovely to hear him talk as he puts arguments together very well" "He is a senior operator who brings experience and intelligence to bear on cases"
    Chambers & Partners (Intellectual property) 2017

    "He is an excelent heavyweight QC"
    Chambers & Partners (Media & Entertainment) 2017

    "A very persuasive and tenacious advocate"
    Legal 500 (Intellectual property) 2017

    "A real fighter in court."
    Legal 500 (Media and entertainment) 2017

    "His passion and hard work always impresses"
    Legal 500 (Media and entertainment) 2016

    "A terrific fighter and persuasive advocate"
    Legal 500 (Intellectual property) 2016

    "He's terribly clever and sensible." "He is excellent technically and is a very robust advocate"
    Chambers & Partners (Media & Entertainment) 2016

    "A brilliant advocate" who is "Very strategic and commercial"
    Chambers & Partners (Intellectual property) 2016

    "Very hard working and commercially robust"
    Legal 500 (Intellectual property) 2015

    "An esteemed IP expert with a celebrated reputation for handling media cases with especially technical copyright components."
    Chambers & Partners (Media & Entertainment) 2015

    "A superb cross-examiner. He's a real bulldog in court when the fight is on" " He has an excellent nose for a case"
    Chambers & Partners (Intellectual Property) 2015