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Michael Tappin QC


Year of call: 1991
Year of silk: 2009

Michael Tappin QC is probably best known for his work on many of the leading patent cases of the last decade. Chambers & Partners 2016 said that he is “Widely acclaimed as one of the leading silks for biotech and pharmaceuticals patent cases, although he is also a powerful performer in telecoms disputes. He is noted for his sparkling intelligence, capacity for hard work and the collegiate approach he takes to working with instructing solicitors.” However, he has experience across the range of IP and has been involved in a series of trade mark and SPC references to the Court of Justice of the European Union. He has also conducted two trials in the High Court of Ireland and was responsible for handling the clinical evidence at a major international arbitration in The Hague.

Chambers & Partners 2018 says that "He has a great command of the law, and his analysis is exceptional both technically and legally" and that "He is very bright, very creative, very thorough and doesn't miss a trick." In previous years, he has been described in Chambers & Partners as being “a highly effective and persuasive advocate with a no-nonsense but user-friendly attitude”, “a very clear and effective advocate, who is calm, thoughtful and confident”, as having “great intellect, exceptional advocacy skills and impressive paperwork” and as being “a thorough thinker, technically brilliant and a purveyor of sound advice”. It was also said that he “always does a first-class job: he runs cases in a calm, efficient manner and is fully engaged with the litigation process”, that he “offers a strong mix of technical brilliance and practical advice, and is equally outstanding on his feet and on paper” and that “his advocacy style is fantastic”.

Michael obtained a first class degree in chemistry and a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Oxford and was called to the Bar in 1991. Between 2003 and 2008 he was Standing Counsel to the Comptroller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks and in 2008 he was named Chambers & Partners’ Intellectual Property Junior of the Year. Michael took silk in 2009. He is a co-author of the 4th edition of Laddie, Prescott and Vitoria’s Modern Law of Copyright and Designs, published in 2011.

Copyright and Designs

Michael has considerable experience of copyright and design cases, often in the media sector. He has undertaken extensive advocacy and advisory work for PPL, including Virgin Retail v PPL, an appeal from the Copyright Tribunal concerning payments for in-store broadcasting of recordings broadcast. Michael also had the distinction of representing the Beatles in Harrison v Lingasong, which involved infringement of their copyright in early recordings made in Hamburg. He is a co-author of the 4th edition of Laddie, Prescott & Vitoria’s Modern Law of Copyright and Designs, published in 2011.

DKH v Republic [2012] EWHC 877 (HH Judge Birss QC).

Claim relating to unregistered design right in hooded shirt; guidance on ability of Masters to make orders for transfer to the Patents County Court.

Askeri v IASCF [2004] EWHC 2939 (HH Judge Weeks QC)

Claim for declaration as to construction of contract as to ownership of copyright in a translation.

Virgin Retail v PPL [2001] EMLR 139 (Jacob J)

Appeal from decision of Copyright Tribunal ([2000] EMLR 323) regarding terms of payment for broadcasting sound recordings to Virgin Retail stores; Tribunal decision set aside because of an error of law and application remitted to fresh Tribunal.

Microsoft v Backslash (1999)

Summary judgment application in relation to very substantial quantities of alleged counterfeit software and imported software which had been de-packaged and re-packaged. The defendants submitted to the orders sought on the second day of the hearing.

Harrison v Lingasong (1998)

Claim by the Beatles for infringement of their rights in performances given in Hamburg in 1962. The defendant, which had been dealing in copies of a recording of the performances, submitted to relief being granted during the trial.

Microsoft v Plato [1999] FSR 834

Appropriate scope of relief against trader who dealt innocently in small quantities of counterfeit software.

Microsoft v Computer Future [1998] ETMR 597

Summary judgment granted against trader dealing in imported software which had been de packaged, on the grounds of copyright and trade mark infringement.

Microsoft v Electro-wide [1997] FSR 580 (Laddie J)

Summary judgment granted against traders who had supplied computers bearing unlicensed copies of software. Observations on granting summary judgment in cases when defendants’ evidence, despite raising apparent issues of fact, was not credible in the light of the evidence as a whole.

Franco v Football League (1996)

Claim for infringement of copyright by person who devised method of compiling football fixture lists. Settled shortly before trial.


  • What the Directories Say
  • "He is the complete package. He gets all over the detail and is really accessible." "His advocacy style is fantastic. It strikes the balance between confident and friendly, and judges respond well to the delivery"
    Chambers & Partners (Intellectual Property) 2017

    "He is technically excellent and a fine advocate."
    Legal 500 (Intellectual Property) 2017

    "An excellent advocate with super-effective court skills"
    Legal 500 (Intellectual Property) 2016

    "A formidable life sciences expert whose scientific skills win cases"
    Chambers & Partners (Intellectual Property) 2016

    "Always prepared to roll his sleeves up and get stuck into a case"
    Legal 500 (Intellectual Property) 2015

    "He offers a strong mix of technical brilliance and practical advice, and is equally outstanding on his feet and on paper" " A very clear and effective advocate, who is calm and thoughtful"
    Chambers & Partners (Intellectual Property) 2015