Head of chambers:
Mark Platts-Mills QC
Senior clerk: John Call
Total tenants (silks): 29 (6)
Total staff: Four clerks, three junior clerks and one office manager
Key clients: Allen & Overy, Bird & Bird, Bristows, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Taylor Wessing
Recent cases: Baigent and Leigh v Random House, Apple Corps v Apple Computers, Research In Motion v Inpro
New Square, just off Chancery Lane, is a good place to find an IP barrister if you ever need one. The picturesque quad is home to specialist sets 3 New Square, Hogarth Chambers and 8 New Square.
The latter has for years provided counsel on the most complex and high-profile patent cases and, according to head of chambers Mark Platts-Mills QC, it has had at least some involvement in 80 per cent of patent cases over the past year.
The work is keeping the barristers busy and the next step will be expansion. The set has taken four new rooms next door at 7 New Square. Although the chambers is subletting them at the moment, Platts-Mills expects to fill them – but not necessarily with patent barristers.
“We see our future as getting a bit bigger, but not much bigger,” says Platts-Mills. “I think media and entertainment is something we could do more of, including IT.”
With much of the patent market wrapped up by 8 New Square, 3 New Square, Hogarth and 7 South Square, the next battleground among the IP sets will be copyright, media and IT work.
Platts-Mills says word-of-mouth and a solid reputation are the keys to getting ahead in new areas. Keeping a dialogue with law firms is also essential.
“We talk to firms that do this sort of work and see what we could do for them that would make us more attractive,” he says.
Quality silks and an impressive case list has helped 8 New Square build up a position as a leading IP set, but those very attributes could have scuppered its chances of being the undisputed number one. 8 New Square has become a training ground for patent court judges.
Top silk David Kitchin left to become a patent court judge at the end of last year, following in the footsteps of former 8 New Square colleagues Lord Justice Jacob, Judge Michael Fysh QC and Sir Hugh Laddie.
The chambers has produced four of the last five patent judges, and they are inevitably the set’s high-earners. “It doesn’t change anything in chambers,” says Platts-Mills. “You take on good people, they do well, they go on the bench. We’ve dealt with it before.”
It must be something to do with the immaculate lawn in New Square. Jacob LJ became the first judge from 8 New Square in 1993, the same year that the chambers moved from the Francis Taylor Building.
At any rate, a familiar face in court is always welcome. Platts-Mills says: “Kitchin is a wonderful judge and very clever. I’ve had four things in front of him already and he’s only shouted at me once.”