Blackstone Chambers, home to barristers which predominantly appear in commercial disputes, also has an array of silks and juniors who are becoming more specialised in patents. As a result, over the past few years, the set has become more visible across myriad cases involving different types of technology and especially in FRAND: according to one competitor, they are “doing a great job on a new area of law.”
A springboard in visibility came with James Segan appearing for Huawei in the Supreme Court-level dispute with Unwired Planet. Although now complete, the globally significant SEP case lent a good level of visibility to the barristers as they worked alongside their counterparts at sets such as 8 New Square. This relationship has continued; in July, the KC appeared for Huawei in its now-settled dispute with IP Bridge.
More recently on the telecommunication side, Alan Maclean acted for Koninklijke Philips in its dispute with Oppo and OnePlus, although the client has also instructed other barristers from the set for previous disputes. Michael Bloch once again appeared for Apple against Optis in one of the many FRAND trials which has characterised the parties’ fight, where his expertise in antitrust law as it relates to patents once again came to the fore.
However, this does not mean the set is becoming complacent – over the past 18 months, Blackstone Chambers has also had a foothold in more cases involving life sciences and mechanical patents. James Segan demonstrated his flexibility and knowledge in appearing for Otsuka against GW Pharmaceuticals, alongside junior barrister Ravi Mehta. The case also reached the Court of Appeal, with the instructing counsel for Otsuka once again relying on the Blackstone Chambers duo.
In terms of clout, the set’s IP team remains small. It still retains just two patent-specialist KCs and two junior barristers. However, this is not to say its barristers are not making their mark amid competition from other commercial sets, such as Hogarth Chambers, which is increasingly present in patent cases. As instructing counsel continue to require a greater variety of knowledge from their barristers, which often means crossing over into the competition and antitrust expertise afforded by more commercial sets, the market can expect to see more of Blackstone as the months and years go on.
Michael Bloch, James Segan, Andrew Scott (“great for FRAND and on jurisdiction”, competitor), Ravi Mehta
3 KCs, 1 junior
High Court: Lenovo (defendant, James Segan, Ravi Mehta) against InterDigital over mobile communications and FRAND; Apple (defendant, Michael Bloch) against Optis over mobile communications and FRAND; Cook (claimant, Andrew Scott) against Boston Scientific over endoscopic clips; Ostuka (claimant, James Segan, Ravi Mehta) against GW Pharmaceuticals over cannabinoid treatments; Philips (claimant, Andrew Scott, Alan Maclean) against Oppo and OnePlus over anti-suit injunctions; Huawei (defendant, James Segan) against IP Bridge.