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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.

Media and Entertainment

John has a huge amount of experience working on high profile media and entertainment matters, Brian Belo v Lime Pictures and Madonna v Associated Newspapers being recent cases in point. The first was a copyright infringement and breach of confidence action relating to the popular TV show, TOWIE and the second concerned photographs published in The Mail on Sunday of Madonna’s wedding to Guy Ritchie. John also acted for Gary Brooker in Fisher v Brooker (a dispute over authorship of the iconic organ music in Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade of Pale) and Mark McClelland upon the dissolution of the band Snow Patrol. Other cases in which he played a lead role have related to celebrities including JK Rowling, Michael Jackson, George Michael, Simon Cowell, Sylvia Plath, Bjork, Blue, Celine Dion and Van Morrison.

Brian Belo v Lime Pictures

Big Brother winner, Brian Belo, claimed he devised the format for The Only Way is Essex (TOWIE), the hit dramality soap, now in its 10th successful series. Lime Pictures, who are also responsible for Hollyoaks, hotly disputed the claim, contending it was their own development of the reality genre; that it was "Big Brother without Walls".

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 over half of Jackson’s repertoire.

Allen v JK Rowling and Bloomsbury Publishing

Representatives of the author of a little known publication about a wizard claimed that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, as well as some of the earlier Potter novels, were an infringement of copyright. The court refused to dismiss the claim summarily but required the Claimant to put a large sum of money into court if he wished to proceed.

Madonna v Associated Newspaper

The Mail on Sunday published without permission photographs of Madonna’s wedding to Guy Ritchie thereby infringing both her rights of privacy and her rights in copyright as well as selling a lot of newspapers. The main issue was the amount of compensation the newspaper should pay.

Michael Jackson v Flying Music

Thriller Live is a spectacular West End concert show. The issue is whether various of Michael Jackson’s rights have been properly accounted for and licensed or whether the producers are just cashing in on Jackson’s popularity.

PRS For Music v Mean Fiddler and Festival Republic

This is an action for unpaid royalties in respect of the music performances at the popular Latitude Festivals in Suffolk. The issue is whether royalties should be paid as though Latitude were an ordinary music festival or whether account should be taken of its multidimensional nature.

CSC Media Group v Video Performance Ltd

A Copyright Tribunal determination of the fees payable by TV broadcasters of music videos to the rights owners. The key issue is the reasonable fee in all the circumstances, bearing in mind the benefit to the artists as well as the increasing volume of music online and the declining advertising revenue.

McClelland v Lightbody

Snow Patrol is a successful group but success often leads to litigation. In this case three band members fell out with the fourth and the original band partnership was dissolved. The action involved a determination of the band’s assets, including the goodwill in the name and its benefit to the band going forward.

Sienna Miller v Big Pictures and Darryn Lyons

Ms Miller claimed she was being harassed by the paparazzi and her rights of privacy infringed. She sought injunctive relief and damages. Big Pictures had sold some photographs to newspapers but contended that their actions were normal and reasonable in the context of celebrity news gathering.

Fisher v Brooker

A dispute about who wrote or 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. The Court of Appeal recognized Fisher’s authorship claim but declined to grant him any copyright interest because of his laches and delay. The House of Lords took a different view but left open the question of rights in the original smash hit recording which started it all.

Baigent and Leigh v Random House

An action alleging the best selling novel, The Da Vinci Code, infringed the copyright of two of the authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. The claim explored the boundaries between ideas and expression, copyright protecting the latter but not the former.

19 TV Ltd v Simon Cowell and others

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

Bloomsbury Publishing v Persons Unknown

An application for an injunction against any person who might disclose the contents of the latest Harry Potter novel before publication.

Re: Sylvia Plath

The issue which concerned  the financiers of the biopic “Sylvia” was whether  the use of extracts from Plath’s poetry in the film came within the scope of the fair dealing provisions in the Copyright Act.

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 was entitled to do.

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.


  • 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