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 number of major recent cases in the European Court of Justice on trans-border satellite reception (FAPL v QC Leisure/Karen Murphy), on whether copyright prevents replication of computer program functionality (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). As in that case he conducts cases in the ECJ on references from other Member States as well as from the UK. He is currently conducting the first ever case about the so-called ‘Specific Mechanism’ on parallel imports of pharmaceuticals from the EU Accession States (Merck v Sigma), which was referred by the Court of Appeal in 2013.
He is very strong on cases with heavy technical content, particularly in the IT, internet and telecommunications field. The Chambers & Partners 2013 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 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 sole author of Russell-Clarke and Howe on Industrial Designs (now in 8th Ed), and edited Halbury’s Laws Title on Trade Marks.
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 December 2012 in favour of a UK Bill.
» Merck Canada Inc v Sigma Pharmaceuticals PLC Case C-539/13
» Nintendo Co Ltd v PC Box SRL Case C-355/12
» Speciality European Pharma Ltd v (1) Doncaster Pharmaceuticals Group Ltd & (2) Madaus GmbH  EWHC 3624
» SAS Institute Inc. v World Programming Ltd  EWCA Civ 1482
» Sudarshan Chemical Industries Ltd v Clariant Produkte (Deutschland) GmbH  EWCA Civ 919
» Sealed Air Limited v Sharp Interpack Limited, Sharpak Aylesham Limited  EWPCC 23
» ITV Broadcasting Ltd v TVCatchup Ltd, Case C-607/11
» Environmental Recycling Technology v Upcycle  EWPCC 4
» FAPL v QC Leisure  EWCA Civ 1708
» Rugby Football Union v CIS Ltd (formerly Viagogo Ltd)  UKSC 55,
» Alfa Laval v Separator Spares  EWCA Civ 1569,  1 WLR 1110
» R (Vuciterni and Alsat UK Ltd) v Brent Magistratesí Court and Brent and Harrow Trading Standards Service  EWCA 2140 (Admin)
» SAS Institute Inc v World Programming Ltd Case C-406/10
» MMI Research Ltd v Cellixon Ltd & 5 Ors  EWCA Civ 7
What the Directories Say
"Strong on written submissions but also good on his feet"
Legal 500 (Intellectual Property) 2014
"Strong on cases with a heavy technical content"
Legal 500 (IT and telecoms) 2014
"He has expertise in internet related matters"
Legal 500 (Media and entertainment) 2014
"Razor sharp and technically excellent, he never leaves a stone unturned."
Chambers & Partners (Information Technology) 2014
"He is technically brilliant," as well as "intellectually strong and persistent."
Chambers & Partners (Intellectual Property) 2014
"Has great commercial understanding of a client's objectives and provides clear strategic advice."
Chambers & Partners (Media and Entertainment) 2014
Martin Howe QC brings a "phenomenal intellect" to bear on cases. His practice is marked by high-stakes broadcasting work, and sources agree that his "knowledge of EU legislation is truly formidable." Following on from the aforementioned Murphy trial where he represented the pub landlady, he also advised TVCatchup in its dispute with ITV. He can be depended upon for "clear strategic advice," sources insist.
Chambers & Partners (Media and Entertainment) 2013
Martin Howe QC is known for his excellent knowledge of the IT commercial field and the forceful way in which he pursues cases. Sources say: "He's good in the courtroom and a go-to barrister for big software copyright cases."
Chambers & Partners (Information Technology) 2013
Martin Howe QC is an "understated and thoughtful advocate" possessed of an "excellent mind," according to sources. He has distinguished himself recently in a number of copyright actions, and is an expert on the confluence of EU and IP law.
Chambers & Partners (Intellectual Property) 2013
"very clever, knowledgeable and client-friendly" silk who is known for his expertise in EU law. He is the first choice of many solicitors for cross-border IP disputes.
Chambers & Partners (Intellectual Property) 2012
"knows his way around the Internet and gets more than satisfactory results in his cases."
Chambers & Partners (Information Technology) 2011
"brings incredible attention to detail and rigorous analysis to difficult problems – he doesn't miss a trick."
Chambers & Partners (Information Technology) 2011
"Extraordinarily considered in his approach." He puts this skill to good use in cross - examination, homing in on witnesses with "targeted cross examination that leaves the prevaricator with no where to go."
Chambers & Partners (Intellectual Property) 2010