Spotlight on our solicitors – meet Ben Evans

Spotlight on our solicitors – meet Ben Evans

Our spotlight on our solicitors series allows us to shine a light on the talent of our legal professionals. With these interviews, we get to know more about the people behind the expertise. This time, we spoke with Partner and Head of Trade Marks Ben Evans. Ben joined the Harper James team in September 2023, after spending 12 years at top-50 law firm Blake Morgan.

‘I kind of fell into law, or more specifically intellectual property law rather than entering it by design.’ Ben says. ‘I had enjoyed law at college but hadn’t intended to pursue it any further, but a change in circumstance meant I ended up taking law at University with a view to potentially joining the police force.’

‘Upon graduating, I wasn’t sure about a career in the police and so I emailed a number of local law firms to ask about work experience. Only one came back to me and I agreed to go in the following week. I then realised they specialised in a thing called intellectual property. I bought a book about it and read it cover to cover before starting.’ explains Ben. ‘Safe to say: I was hooked on intellectual property from there and that one week of work experience turned into a paralegal job (whilst I studied for a Masters in the evenings), a training contract and then a post-qualification position.’

‘What really piqued my interest about working in intellectual property is the diverse and interesting people, and businesses, you meet and help out. I like to think I’m fairly creative and intellectual property brings you into contact with lots of like-minded creative people.’

What attracted you to Harper James?

‘Soon after qualifying as a solicitor, I took up a temporary position in-house at Microsoft which offered me a fascinating insight into big business and the workings of an in-house team.’ says Ben. ‘Ultimately, the role wasn’t for me. I thrive on the diverse nature of private practice work where no day is ever the same and I felt stifled just dealing with one area (anti-piracy) for one business. So, I moved to Blake Morgan (Blake Lapthorn as it was) where I stayed for nearly 12 years and cross-qualified as a Chartered Trade Mark Attorney during that time.’

‘What excited me about Harper James is the real strength in depth of the teams, a willingness to embrace technology and the benefits it can offer our clients, a diverse and rapidly growing client base and a flexible working model that means that our lawyers can prioritise client work over time-consuming administration whilst still being able to do the school run!’

What are your main areas of intellectual property expertise?

‘Over the years, I have dealt with all areas of intellectual property but my main expertise is within what’s known as soft IP. That means predominantly trade marks, copyright, and design rights. Increasing my work has focused on the former, trade marks and brands more widely.’

Can you recall any key moments from your career so far?

‘There have been so many interesting cases, clients and colleagues that it’s difficult to select particular key moments, but they would probably include: securing an extended civil restraining order against a serial litigant who repeatedly issued meritless copyright infringement claims against our large publisher client; as a newly qualified solicitor: representing a retailer in a substantial dispute with a major publisher, it was just me up against a large team from a Magic Circle firm and securing a very positive settlement for the client;

Any case where I’ve acted for David up against Goliath and (usually) come out on top, they’re the most satisfying cases;

My first advocacy (and win!) at the Intellectual Property Office UK and knowing the real identity of Banksy… but my lips are professionally sealed!’

What do you think your clients value most about the way you work with them?

‘I pride myself on being responsive, caring and giving genuine advice.’ says Ben. ‘While I will always set out the options available, I won’t sit on the fence and will give my opinion on which way to go. IP matters are often very nuanced, and a commercial resolution is the best way forward. If it is, then I tell clients that from the start, not 12 months down the line like some lawyers… plus, I like to have a laugh, life is too short not to have fun along the way.’

Do you have any practical advice for business owners?

‘It’s basic but still by far the biggest problem that I see, especially with small businesses, is that businesses often don’t run clearance searches before they start using a name and even if they do, they rarely secure an appropriate registered trade mark from the outset.’ explains Ben. ‘A couple of years down the line, they come to me with the issue that someone else has the registration and is trying to stop them using the mark.’

‘My advice is: save time, pain and money and get a clearance search run, and a trade mark application filed, before you start using a name. There’s nothing worse than investing and building a name and reputation only to have to change it just when you’re really starting to motor along.’

Future predictions for intellectual property law?

‘On the trade mark front, we await the Supreme Court’s decision in Sky v Skykick, which could fundamentally change the way trade marks are registered in the UK.’ Ben says. ‘If Skykick succeed, then we could see large swathes of the register being cancelled for bad faith and a renewed focus on clarity and specificality in lists of goods/services – much like the US trade mark system.’

‘The big thing that looms over us all is AI, and the way that affects intellectual property is very interesting. Who is the author of a copyright work (for example) that is created using AI? Is it the creator of the AI tech? Or the user that inputs their query to the AI? Or is it AI itself? Who knows but it will be very interesting to see anyway!’

About our expert

Ben Evans

Ben Evans

Head of Trade Marks
Ben is the Head of Trade Marks at Harper James. He qualified as a solicitor in a boutique IP practice in 2011 before joining top-50 firm Blake Morgan in 2012 where he stayed until joining Harper James in 2023.

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