Traditionally, male barristers have carried out patents work, which explains the predominance of male silks in this area

The massive increase in the use of computers and information technology in all areas of work (and even in chambers) has meant that barristers have to ensure that they are up-to-date with all the latest developments in intellectual property law, both technical and legal.

Intellectual property practice arose from the need to protect patents in mechanical engineering and the sciences, and has tended be carried out exclusively by male barristers who are seen as having the technical know-how. This now contrasts with a growing number of women solicitors who have studied and now practise in these more technical areas. But, unsurprisingly, the silks who stand out in this area are predominantly male.

The list of recommended barristers is not exhaustive, but is based on the subjective recommendations of leading intellectual property practitioners.

At Three New Square, headed by David Young QC, the current chair of the Intellectual Property Bar Association Simon Thorley QC is the "doyen of the patent Bar, and is "very very highly-rated. He is very urbane, quick and self-assured and has bags of experience all-round for a wide range of matters including biotechnology and mechanical patents, as well as computers."

Antony Watson QC at the same set is " one of the most senior at the IP Bar – very authoritative, very sensible, especially on patent work."

The set head David Young QC is also noted in this area. As a general comment it was noted that, as a chambers, Three New Square has the advantage of being cheaper than its rivals.

8 New Square, which some consider may have suffered a little from the loss of Hugh Laddie and Robin Jacob to the bench, is still seen by others as a set that has got everything for IP practitioners, and is more than holding its own, with set head Michael Fysh QC being well-regarded. John Baldwin QC is also recommended, and Peter Prescott QC is "almost certainly the cleverest IP barrister at the Bar and, in the right case, very effective".

Another favourite at this set, rating numerous recommendations, is David Kitchin QC, who is "undoubtedly one of the best. He is terrier-like – he will fight tooth and nail; he takes on no-hoper cases, and is hungry to win. He is definitely up-and-coming for the premier league of the IP Bar, but does not yet have the authority as he only took silk in 1994."

Mark Platts-Mills QC from the same set is also highly recommended.

Christopher Floyd QC at 11 South Square is also rated highly. He is "quick-thinking on his feet, very diligent, and hard-working. He wins by dint of hard work, but he does win, and that is exactly what you are after."

At the same set, Nicholas Pumfrey QC also rates a number of mentions, and new silk Michael Silverleaf QC is also rated.

As for Martin Howe QC, one practitioner commented that he was "absolutely delighted he is still at the Bar, and did not become an MP. He is very diligent in his preparation, and is very good on computer work."

Geoffrey Hobbs at 1 Essex Court headed by Anthony Grabiner QC is "excellent, absolutely first-rate. He does things his way, but that is usually the right way. He is very good on trade marks and passing off, has good presence and is quite adaptable and is a delight to work with."

At 19 Old Buildings, set head Alastair Wilson QC is "very effective".

At One Raymond Buildings, Christopher Morcom QC and one of this year's batch of silks Roger Wyand QC stand out.

Of the more recent silks, Richard Miller QC, also at Three New Square, is "very diligent, hard-working and meticulous", while new silk Mary Vitoria QC is good for data protection and patents.

At 5 New Square, Kevin Garnett QC is also singled out for mention.

Outside of what is seen formally as the IP Bar, John Slater QC at 1 Paper Buildings has done well in the IP cases in which he has been instructed, as has Peter Goldsmith QC at Fountain Court.