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Martin Howe QC

 


Year of call: 1978
Year of silk: 1996

Martin Howe’s practice encompasses intellectual property and extends into wider fields of EU law and commercial and public law. He appeared in the UK Supreme Court in RFU v Viagogo, which concerned the balance between the protection of personal data under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the courts’ powers to order disclosure of the identities of individuals alleged to have used a website to advertise tickets in breach of the terms and conditions of the ticket issuer.

He has had a string of major recent cases in the European Court of Justice, including the first ever case about the so-called ‘Specific Mechanism’ on parallel imports of pharmaceuticals from the EU Accession States (Merck v Sigma), the industry-changing group of cases on trans-border satellite broadcasting (FAPL v QC Leisure/Karen Murphy), the leading case on whether copyright prevents replication of computer program functionality and computer languages (SAS v WPL), on internet streaming of TV broadcasts (ITV v TVCatchup), and the first ever case in the ECJ on circumvention of copy protection (Nintendo v PC Box). He conducts cases in the ECJ on references from the courts of other Member States (as in Nintendo v PC Box, from the Milan court) as well as from the UK.

He appeared for the government in R (BAT) v Secretary of State for Health at first instance (Admin Court) and in the Court of Appeal – resisting a challenge against the tobacco standardised packaging regulations which involved issues of fundamental rights, free movement of goods under EU law, and intellectual property. He appeared in the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal in Tsit Wing v TWG Tea, the first trade mark case to reach that court, and for the defendant in Glaxo Wellcome v Sandoz where the High Court granted summary judgment invalidating the claimant’s EU trade mark containing a representation of a purple coloured inhaler on the ground that it insufficiently defined the sign the subject of the representation.

In the Court of Appeal he successfully upheld the High Court judgment in Robyn Rihanna Fenty v Arcadia t/a Topshop that the sale of T-shirts bearing Rihanna's image by Topshop was actionable as passing off, and in SEP v Doncaster Pharmaceuticals secured reversal of the High Court and established that the parallel importer does have the right to rebrand its imported product with the trade mark used by the manufacturer in the UK market.

He is very strong on cases with heavy technical content, particularly in the IT, internet and telecommunications field. The Chambers & Partners 2016 Directory recognises him as a leading silk in both IP and IT, as well as in Media & Entertainment. Before starting at the Bar, Martin worked as a commercial and systems software programmer for IBM and for a software house. His technical grasp extends to other areas including biotechnology and genetic engineering: he was in Biogen v Medeva (House of Lords) and appeared in the EPO Technical Board of Appeal, Munich, both in that case and a string of other biotech cases.

His IP practice covers all areas of IP law, including patents, trade marks, copyright, conditional access (decryption) rights, designs, databases and confidential information. He is the lead author of Russell-Clarke and Howe on Industrial Designs (now in 9th Ed), and edited Halbury’s Laws Title on Trade Marks. He is an Appointed Person to hear designs appeals from the UK IPO under the new appeal system of the Intellectual Property Act 2014.

Beyond the traditional IP field, he has appeared in criminal cases involving EU law or IP law issues in the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) and in the lower criminal courts, and has appeared in the Administrative Court in both civil and criminal matters. He has specific expertise in data protection having acted in Johnson v MDU in the Court of Appeal, as well as in the RFU v Viagogo case. His interest in the law of fundamental rights extended to being a member of the Government’s Commission on a Bill of Rights for the United Kingdom which reported in favour of a UK Bill.
 

Recent Activity

» Glaxo Wellcome UK Ltd (t/a Allen and Hanburys) v Sandoz Ltd [2016] EWHC 2743 (Ch)
» Glaxo Wellcome Uk Ltd (t/a Allen & Hanburys) v Sandoz Ltd (High Court) [2016] EWHC 1537 (Ch)
» R (British American Tobacco UK Limited & Ors) v Secretary of State for Health
» Gama Healthcare Limited v Pal International Limited [2016] EWHC 75 (IPEC)
» Flynn Pharma Limited v DrugsRUs Limited and Tenolol Limited [2015] EWHC 2759 (Ch)
» ITV v TVCatchup [2015] EWCA Civ 204
» Merck Canada Inc v Sigma Pharmaceuticals PLC Case C-539/13
» Speciality European Pharma Ltd v (1) Doncaster Pharmaceuticals Group Ltd & (2) Madaus GmbH [2015] EWCA Civ 54
» Robyn Rihanna Fenty v Arcadia t/a Topshop
» Max Mara Fashion Group Srl v OHIM
» Nintendo Co Ltd v PC Box SRL Case C-355/12

What the Directories Say

"He always does a good job and is very effective in court. He is highly persuasive and always clear and rational" "he is really user-friendly and judges respect him. He is a bright, enthusiastic and committed barrister"
Chambers & Partners (Intellectual Property) 2017

"As well as being a leader in the field generally, he has a detailed technical grasp of computing and digital technology"
Chambers & Partners (Information Technology) 2017

"He has in-depth knowledge of copyright in broadcasts, EU copyright law and great commercial understanding of the client's objectives. He provides clear strategic advice"
Chambers & Partners (Media and Entertainment) 2017

"Recommended for IP work with EU elements"
Legal 500 (Intellectual Property) 2016

"Experienced in technical IT disputes"
Legal 500 (IT and Telecoms) 2016

"Highly regarded for media disputes with an EU element"
Legal 500 (Media and entertainment) 2016

"He has an excellent reputation as one of the senior silks in this area"
Chambers & Partners (Media and Entertainment) 2016

"He's a very safe pair of hands who's good on complex scientific cases"
Chambers & Partners (Information Technology) 2016

"Has market-leading knowledge on broadcast copyright and is a first port of call for this type of work" "He has great commercial understanding of the client's objectives and provides clear, strategic advice"
Chambers & Partners (Intellectual Property) 2016

"An experienced silk on big technical issues"
Legal 500 (IT and Telecoms) 2015

"He is very bright and industry-aware"
Legal 500 (Media and entertainment) 2015

"A team player who is thoughtful, cerebral and respected by the judiciary"
Legal 500 (Intellectual Property) 2015

"A precise, detail-oriented authority on EU law, with a software programming background he uses to outstanding effect in tech-based IP cases"
Chambers & Partners (Information Technology) 2015

" A cerebral lawyer, who is also accessible and a pleasant person to have on the team"
Chambers & Partners (Media & Entertainment) 2015

 

 

  • What the Directories Say
  • "He always does a good job and is very effective in court. He is highly persuasive and always clear and rational" "he is really user-friendly and judges respect him. He is a bright, enthusiastic and committed barrister"
    Chambers & Partners (Intellectual Property) 2017

    "As well as being a leader in the field generally, he has a detailed technical grasp of computing and digital technology"
    Chambers & Partners (Information Technology) 2017

    "He has in-depth knowledge of copyright in broadcasts, EU copyright law and great commercial understanding of the client's objectives. He provides clear strategic advice"
    Chambers & Partners (Media and Entertainment) 2017

    "Recommended for IP work with EU elements"
    Legal 500 (Intellectual Property) 2016

    "Experienced in technical IT disputes"
    Legal 500 (IT and Telecoms) 2016

    "Highly regarded for media disputes with an EU element"
    Legal 500 (Media and entertainment) 2016

    "He has an excellent reputation as one of the senior silks in this area"
    Chambers & Partners (Media and Entertainment) 2016

    "He's a very safe pair of hands who's good on complex scientific cases"
    Chambers & Partners (Information Technology) 2016

    "Has market-leading knowledge on broadcast copyright and is a first port of call for this type of work" "He has great commercial understanding of the client's objectives and provides clear, strategic advice"
    Chambers & Partners (Intellectual Property) 2016

    "An experienced silk on big technical issues"
    Legal 500 (IT and Telecoms) 2015

    "He is very bright and industry-aware"
    Legal 500 (Media and entertainment) 2015

    "A team player who is thoughtful, cerebral and respected by the judiciary"
    Legal 500 (Intellectual Property) 2015

    "A precise, detail-oriented authority on EU law, with a software programming background he uses to outstanding effect in tech-based IP cases"
    Chambers & Partners (Information Technology) 2015

    " A cerebral lawyer, who is also accessible and a pleasant person to have on the team"
    Chambers & Partners (Media & Entertainment) 2015