Taylor Wessing hits Harbottle & Lewis for IP head Mark Owen

Taylor Wessing will secure Lucasfilms as a client following the hire of Harbottle & Lewis IP heavyweight Mark Owen.

Owen, who led Harbottle’s IP, technology and regulatory practice, joins the firm just months after it secured the addition of Osborne Clarke digital business sector head Mike Turner (17 January 2013).

Mark Owen
Mark Owen

Taylor Wessing intellectual property and media and entertainment head Niri Shan said the strategic appointments would boost the firm’s standing in the US.

“Both Mark and Mike have strong inbound US practices,” he said. “To have that practice to build on would be advantageous. They’re both very well connected.”

Owen gained international prominence when he acted for Star Wars creator George Lucas in his IP battle with British engineer Andrew Ainsworth over stormtrooper helmets and armour (5 January 2011).

Stormtrooper
Stormtrooper

Such was the importance of that battle that it was heard by the Supreme Court, with movie moguls Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and Brian Henson, son of Jim Henson, all coming out in support of Lucas’s case.

The split ruling delivered by the Supreme Court sparked a costs battle over the outcome of the case, which was conducted on a conditional-fee arrangement for the claimant. Ainsworth’s lawyer, SC Andrew partner Seamus Andrew, is pursuing him for millions in legal fees because the court did not award costs against Lucasfilm. Owen will be left to sort out the costs dispute while at Taylor Wessing, a significant boost for the firm.

Owen has been a partner with Harbottle & Lewis since 1998, prior to which he was a Clifford Chance associate.