United Kingdom: Scotland

Brexit remains the hot topic for trademark professionals across the United Kingdom, and Scotland is no exception. With all signs indicating that UK practitioners will no longer be permitted to act before the EUIPO, the future looks uncertain – especially for attorney firms without an established base in Europe. However, a July 2020 consultation suggesting that only UK attorneys will be able to practise before the UKIPO from 2021 could offer a silver lining – particularly for firms located in economic hubs such as Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. However the cards might fall, it seems that Scotland’s flourishing start-up scene and thriving traditional industries will continue to fuel demand for solid trademark counsel.

Firms: solicitors

Firms: trademark attorneys

  • Lawrie IP
  • Lincoln IP Limited
  • Marks & Clerk
  • Ancient Hume Ltd
  • Creation IP Ltd
  • HGF Ltd 
  • Murgitroyd

Ancient Hume Ltd

Based in Edinburgh, but with an international reach thanks to a reliable set of worldwide contacts, Ancient Hume is a preferred choice for brand owners seeking robust trademark, design and copyright protection. Familiar faces at the UK and EU IPOs, its practitioners pride themselves on their personal touch and attention to detail. Chartered trademark attorney Alasdair Hume attracts warm plaudits from peers: “He’s excellent and knows his stuff.” Having previously been a hearing officer at the trademarks registry, he has a unique take on all manner of contentious and commercial brand protection issues. Vital support is provided by seasoned paralegal Karen Pollock.

Brodies LLP

Despite some major recent personnel departures, full-service commercial outfit Brodies remains a potent presence on the Scottish trademarks landscape and has the clientele to show for it: its roster includes blockbuster clients such as the Scotch Whisky Association, the University of Edinburgh, PRS for Music and Tomatin Distillery Company. Although based in Scotland, it has a global remit, thanks to a carefully cultivated network of associates worldwide. On the contentious front, solicitor advocate Iain Rutherford has been knocking out the wins in trademark, domain name and patent disputes in the IT and telecommunications fields. Andrew McWhirter has a flair for resolving spats both in and out of court for players in the food and drink, technology, oil and gas and luxury industries – this year saw him involved in a major suit in the Sheriff Court. The man with all the transactional answers is Grant Campbell, who heads the IP, technology and outsourcing practice. Having spent 25 years guiding high-rolling contracts across the line, he delivers transparent, business-minded advice in sectors ranging from finance to aviation, and is accredited as an IP specialist by the Law Society of Scotland. Campbell also has deep knowledge of data protection, giving him a holistic view of clients’ concerns. Deserving special mention is the “personable and commercially savvy” Cara McGlynn, who has made appearances in the Court of Session and Sheriff Court, but primarily focuses on alternative dispute resolution.

Burness Paull LLP

“Across the IP spectrum, Burness Paull has the best contentious offering in Scotland. It unquestionably deserves its gold ranking.” With a whopping 16 fee-earners on deck – making it Scotland’s second-largest IP practice – it tackles countless high-profile disputes for myriad household names: over the last few years, it has been responsible for more than half of all registered IP actions in Scotland. Star billing goes to IP head and “Scottish legend” Colin Hulme: “He is one of the go-to practitioners for IP litigation, is well connected in the market and has built up a strong reputation.” He also passes on his wisdom through his role as a guest lecturer at Edinburgh University. The firm also comes armed with an impressive IP transactional practice, whose leading lights are David Goodbrand and Colin Miller. Goodbrand recently coordinated an international licensing deal on behalf of Innovo Engineering and Construction Limited; he has brokered a host of similar licensing and sponsorship briefs throughout his career and also leads the firm’s fintech practice. Heading up the non-contentious IP team, Miller earns rave reviews: “Colin’s main strength is his approachability – he is excellent at putting clients at ease. He has handled trademark work for years and is among the most experienced practitioners in Scotland.”

CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP 

With solicitors, trademark attorneys and trademark paralegals working hand in glove to tackle everything from registration to enforcement, CMS is a true one-stop shop for rights holders. Among other highlights during the research period, it provided strategic advice to Edinburgh St James in relation to a newly developed shopping centre; managed the trademark portfolio of golfing company HCEG; acted in an infringement case on behalf of StreetFit Scotland; and assisted LGBT charity Stonewall with a range of sponsorship agreements. Industry peers praise the work of litigator Neeraj Thomas, who recently joined the firm and has played a significant role in building up its IP contentious practice. Accredited as an IP specialist by the Law Society of Scotland, he regularly appears in the Court of Session. Taking care of the transactional side is Carina Healy, who has a flair for the fine print of licensing, development and commercialisation agreements.

Creation IP Ltd

Despite some recent personnel losses, Creation IP can still provide a reassuringly comprehensive cradle-to-grade trademark service. Whether crafting brand strategies or efficiently managing portfolios, the group takes an innovative, forward-thinking approach to all briefs. At the helm is European trademark attorney John Collins, whose thriving international practice sees him play a role in high-stakes contentious matters in both the United Kingdom and the United States. He matches a sophisticated understanding of both patent and trademark law with keen technical expertise in the world of electronics.

Dentons

Dentons’ nine-strong dedicated IP group is one of the largest in the country and wins warmest acclaim for its transactional nous, although it also brings the heat in litigation. Alison Bryce leads the line, having moved in the IP and IT world for the last two decades; recent achievements include advising Japanese bank MUFG on a major sponsorship deal with the V&A Museum. Standing shoulder to shoulder with her is fellow transactions ace Ross Nicol, “a safe pair of hands and a very effective sounding board”: “He combines excellent technical knowledge and diligence with a pragmatic, commercial, real-world view.”

HGF Ltd 

The Scottish trademark offering of European juggernaut HGF executes with finesse on all manner of prosecution briefs, attracting a steady stream of office actions and advisory work. The firm has three offices stationed across the region, and takes advantage of a squad of over 50 trademark attorneys across Europe and beyond. Captaining the team is Neil McKechnie, an esteemed strategist with three decades in the game who this year has been handling a portfolio of almost 150 matters for fashion giant M & Co, in relation to such marks as BALMORAL and KYLIE.

Lawrie IP

“Reputable and extremely competent” boutique Lawrie IP continues to go from strength to strength, thanks to its commitment to investing in client relationships and intuitive grasp of the dynamics of a diverse range of industries, from alcoholic drinks to finance. It received a boost in recent months through the arrival of “professional, prompt and helpful” Rachel Denholm, who “gives clear and sage advice with regard to portfolio management matters”. “Even in complicated cases, Rachel maps out a clear plan with milestones, options, budgets and risks to mitigate, to enable her clients to make informed decisions about their IP strategy.” She joins an all-star team led by client magnet Sharon Mackison, who plays a major role in the firm’s business development. She provides clear, actionable guidance to companies in sectors from pharmaceuticals to software, but has carved a special niche in the craft brewing field. At her side is Shirley Collins, who is likewise au fait with the vagaries of the food and drink industry, especially the spirits segment. She is a capable problem-solver and regularly collaborates with solicitors on litigation. Completing the line-up and making his debut in the WTR 1000 this year is Kirsten Coetzee, whose broad practice straddles the contentious/non-contentious divide, while also encompassing transactional and ownership issues and design rights matters.

Lincoln IP Limited

“Lincoln IP provides timely, commercial, accurate and constructive advice. The team is experienced yet also patient and supportive, as well as accommodating with regard to payment planning. It punches above its weight and is exceptionally placed to service clients across the United Kingdom and internationally.” With offices in Glasgow and Aberdeen, the boutique covers trademark filings, portfolio management, opposition proceedings and brand protection for a cosmopolitan client base, which includes major players from China, Hong Kong, the United States and Norway. Pulling the strings on the trademark front is European trademark and design attorney Karen Veitch, who has lately tackled oppositions on behalf of Google and Canongate Books; dispensed strategic advice to the Scottish Qualifications Authority; and filed a range of marks on behalf of gaming company Big Fish Games. “Karen offers pragmatic, client-based solutions, has a knack for simplifying complex concepts and is always responsive.” Working alongside her is founder and namesake Matthew Lincoln, who “deals with every issue with a high level of skill and ability”. The architect of many fruitful brand protection and trademark filing strategies, he also has an insider’s view of the registration process as a former examiner at the UKIPO. A trusted ally for the likes of toy and game developer Wow! Stuff, photonics company M Squared Lasers Ltd and lighting manufacturer Design LED Products Ltd, David Fulton “is excellent at his job and conveys his knowledge to clients in a user-friendly fashion. Work is turned around quickly and he delivers outstanding results”.

MacRoberts LLP

“MacRoberts has a growing presence in the trademark field and its reputation is strong.” The full-service firm boasts a comprehensive offering and puts in stellar performances on everything from IP commercialisation to trademark registration, infringement proceedings and licensing negotiations. Chairman Euan Duncan is an IP all-rounder with a percipient take on commercial contracts and complex licensing structures. At his side is brand protection and data security maven David Gourlay, who is accredited as an IP specialist by the Law Society of Scotland. Contentious firepower comes in the form of IP litigator and solicitor advocate Julie Hamilton, who began her career at MacRoberts more than 20 years ago. In addition to IP disputes, her varied caseload includes procurement issues, shareholder disputes and professional negligence matters.

Marks & Clerk

Patent and trademark attorney firm Marks & Clerk has impressive geographical reach, thanks to its 17 offices worldwide; as such, the practitioners based in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen can meet and exceed all trademark needs of a diverse clientele at a local, national and international level. Following the retirement of renowned attorney Campbell Newell, Jason Chester and Janice Morrison have picked up the mantle. “Attentive and easy to work with”, Chester is a particular favourite of Japanese clients and a key member of the firm’s Japanese territory group. He also has an affinity for the food and drinks sector, with several Scottish whisky and gin distillery clients on his books. Morrison is “extremely proactive”, with “an ability to break down problems into smaller pieces and offer multiple solutions”.

Murgitroyd

Murgitroyd is truly global, with 18 outposts strategically located around the world. The Scottish contingent, located in Aberdeen and Glasgow, draws judiciously on these abundant resources to provide wraparound branding solutions for trademark owners. Front and centre are trademark directors Jacqueline McKay and Christian Finn. Having built the trademark team from the ground up, McKay has won a loyal following in fields from medical devices to fashion and beauty for her astute trademark strategies and full-bodied support on licensing deals and in litigation. The internationally minded Finn started out his legal career in Zimbabwe; a diligent trademark portfolio manager, he also provides invaluable input on design and domain name disputes.

Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP

The “well-respected IP team” at full-service outfit Shepherd & Wedderburn stands out in particular for its non-contentious trademark offering, but can also carry the day in court when litigation looms. The group utilises cutting-edge portfolio management technology to secure 360-degree protection for clients of all stripes. Running the trademark show is Paul Carlyle, who spends time working both in Edinburgh and in London; he has a knack for finding straightforward answers to the complex trademark questions faced by his stack of technology and media clients. He also holds a position on the IP reform committee of the Law Society of Scotland. A crack commercial litigator with an IP focus, Scottish and English-qualified John Mackenzie is one of a small number of solicitor advocates to have appeared before the General Court of the CJEU. Finally, the set benefits immeasurably from the presence of Joanna Boag-Thomson, whose broad media and technology practice encompasses technology transfer, outsourcing transactions and brand exploitation. She is accredited as an IP specialist from the Law Society of Scotland and shares her knowledge by teaching at postgraduate level.

Other recommended experts

Based in Addleshaw Goddard’s Edinburgh office, IP and IT expert Helena Brown effortlessly handles everything from IP audits to collaboration and licensing deals, e-commerce issues, software development projects and data protection issues for prestigious clients such as Clydesdale Bank and several big-name football clubs. At Pinsent Masons, polished solicitor advocate Jim Cormack has made IP a central pillar of his broad commercial litigation practice. Philip Hannay, CEO of Cloch Solicitors, is an IP litigator and UK notary public whose renown in the trademark world earns him frequent speaking engagements at various international conferences and appearances on the BBC. Savvy commercial adviser Alistair Lang has an intuitive grasp of the needs of start-ups and an encyclopaedic knowledge of international licensing regimes; he works at Thorntons. Jude Tonner, the eponymous director of jtTM Consultancy Ltd, dispenses transparent, commercially attuned advice and crafts bespoke brand strategies for a glittering roster of clients. Heading up the IP and IT department at Harper Macleod, Jamie Watt “is highly skilled and experienced within the trademarks field, and has an impressively broad practice”.

Individuals: enforcement and litigation

  • James Cormack - Pinsent Masons
  • Colin Hulme - Burness Paull LLP
  • Julie Hamilton - MacRoberts LLP
  • Philip Hannay - Cloch Solicitors
  • John MacKenzie - Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP
  • Andrew McWhirter - Brodies LLP
  • Iain Rutherford - Brodies LLP
  • Neeraj Thomas - CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP

Individuals: prosecution and strategy

  • Alasdair Hume - Ancient Hume Ltd
  • Sharon Mackison - Lawrie IP
  • Neil McKechnie - HGF Ltd
  • Karen Veitch - Lincoln IP Limited
  • Jason Chester - Marks & Clerk
  • Kirsten Coetzee - Lawrie IP
  • John Collins - Creation IP Ltd
  • Shirley Collins - Lawrie IP
  • Rachel Denholm - Lawrie IP
  • Christian Finn - Murgitroyd
  • David Fulton - Lincoln IP Limited
  • Matthew Lincoln - Lincoln IP Limited
  • Jacqueline McKay - Murgitroyd
  • Janice Morrison - Marks & Clerk
  • Jude Tonner - jtTM Consultancy Limited
  • Jamie Watt - Harper Macleod LLP

Individuals: transactions

  • Joanna Boag-Thomson - Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP
  • Helena Brown - Addleshaw Goddard LLP
  • Alison Bryce - Dentons
  • Grant Campbell - Brodies LLP
  • Paul Carlyle - Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP
  • Euan Duncan - MacRoberts LLP
  • David Goodbrand - Burness Paull LLP
  • David Gourlay - MacRoberts LLP
  • Carina Healy - CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP
  • Alistair Lang - Thorntons Law
  • colin Miller - Burness Paull LLP
  • Ross Nicol - Dentons