For its small size, Blackstone’s IP and competition law barristers have appeared consistently during 2021 in multiple patent cases concerning telecommunications patents at the UK High Court. Although the set is predominantly commercial, the presence of its barristers in notable disputes such as on the side of Apple in the global battle against Optis over SEPs reflects a growing reputation in the patent field.
The set’s barristers worked alongside other talent from 8 New Square or Brick Court for Apple, but twice during the year has the set’s barristers also acted as lone counsel in disputes. The set was in familiar territory in the FRAND and jurisdiction case between Koninklijke Philips and Xiaomi, with QC Andrew Scott and junior Timothy Lau appearing for claimant and defendant respectively. Away from telecommunications, however, Blackstone also appeared on the side of Ocado in the technically complex dispute with AutoStore.
In terms of clout, the set’s IP team remains small, with just two patent-specialist QCs and two junior barristers. However, this is not to say its barristers are not making their mark. One firm described recently-appointed silk James Segan, who in 2020 acted for Huawei in the Supreme Court FRAND case against Unwired Planet, as “an absolute mega-brain – our go-to for SEP and FRAND”. Furthermore, senior QC Michael Bloch frequently appears on cases concerning FRAND and jurisdiction. He is also known for his ability to balance the fine line between patent and antitrust law.
If the set continues to increase its visibility in competition law and FRAND, as well as diversify its patent talents, it could soon be on the heels of the market leaders. It is certainly giving other sets, such as Brick Court, a run for their money.
Michael Bloch, James Segan (“an absolute mega-brain – our go-to for SEP and FRAND”, competitor), Andrew Scott (“just great on jurisdiction – the cleverest person I know”, competitor)
3 QCs, 1 junior
Court of Appeal: Ocado (appellant, Alan Maclean) against AutoStore over robotic warehouse systems; High Court: Philips (claimant, Andrew Scott) against Xiaomi (defendant, Timothy Lau) over jurisdiction application; Lacuna Space (defendant, Michael Bloch) against Semtech over jurisdiction; Huawei (defendant, Andrew Scott) against IPBridge over 4G technology; Ocado (defendant, Alan Maclean) against AutoStore over automated retail technology; Apple (defendant, Michael Bloch, Warren Fitt) against Optis over FRAND and licensing.