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11 South Square’s Michael Silverleaf QC has become one of the go-to IP silks of his generation, and 2013 will see him continue to work on industry-defining cases.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is set to be the next new legal battleground in trademark infringement. In April, Silverleaf will represent Interflora in its dispute with Marks & Spencer over whether the latter has the right to promote its services using a rival’s trademark keywords and phrases, bought from Google AdWords. The outcome of the seven-day trial will have ramifications for all retailers who want to use Google to promote their services as it is the first case of its type to come to trial.
“This case bristles with legal issues. It will be a very important ruling and whatever happens, it will set a legal precedent,” he says.
He says the law on internet trading is still developing and that brings up constant disputes.
Silverleaf has also been acting for Apple in its long-running IP row with Samsung over the design of the iPad. “This is one of the cycles in IP where one industry is suing each other,” he says. “For the last seven or eight years it has been mobile phones who are jockeying for position in the marketplace and standard-setting - this creates a boom for lawyers’ practices.”
“I’ve been doing the job for 33 years and I’m still enjoying it.”
Silverleaf has also been heavily involved in the phone hacking litigation. He was instructed by News International and acted for The Times in its damages payout to NightJack blogger Richard Horton, whose email was hacked by a reporter.