Obituary: Sir Hugh Laddie

The IPKat is deeply saddened to record the death of his friend Sir Hugh Laddie, who was laid to rest at mid-day today in Cheshunt Cemetery, to the north of London. Hugh had been ill for some time, though he continued to participate in IP affairs the month of his death, chairing the stellar Patent Enforcement Seminar that owed so much to his inspiration and efforts.

Born in April 1946, Hugh studied at Aldenham School and St Catharine's College, Cambridge, following which he read for the Bar. After a highly successful quarter of a century at the Intellectual Property bar, Hugh was appointed as a Patents Court judge in April 1995, a position he held for ten years before surprising his friends and admirers by resigning in order to become a consultant to leading IP practice Willoughby & Partners (now Rouse) and to plunge himself into a new career just over two years ago as Professor of Intellectual Property Law at University College London. There he founded the Institute of Brand and Innovation Law (IBIL).

Hugh's contributions to the intellectual property community, both in the UK and beyond, were immeasurable. As a co-author (with Peter Prescott and Mary Vitoria) of the much-loved, indeed much-cited, Modern Law of Copyright and Designs, he raised the bar for subsequent IP practitioners' texts with his perceptive and often pungent comments and his preparedness to come off the fence and give a gloriously honest opinion. His references of preliminary questions to the European Court of Justice demonstrated, among other things, how effectively he could construct a set of questions in order to sharpen the minds of jurists in Luxembourg (as in Zino Davidoff v A&G) and how boldly (in Arsenal v Reed) he could resist their responses when it seemed to them that the senior European court had usurped his own judicial functions as a trial judge. His contributions to patent law jurisprudence would fill a book by themselves.

Beyond the bench, Hugh was a warm and sharing individual. He enjoyed the hurly-burly of the Fordham IP Conferences in New York, where he could exchange arguments, ancedotes and wisdom with fellow-judges, practitioners and students on level terms. A keen supporter of the Intellectual Property Institute, his infectious enthusiasm and joy in participation provided a role model for many others. It was no accident that, in September last year, he was inducted to the Intellectual Property Hall of Fame, an honour which he did not seek but which, by common consent, he thoroughly deserved.

The IPKat is sure that those many readers of this weblog who knew Hugh, whether through crossing swords with him, being judged by him, working with him or merely enjoying his company over a pleasant meal, will join him in expressing his sincerest condolences to Hugh's family and in praying that they will be spared all further sorrow. We shall all miss him very much.
Obituary: Sir Hugh Laddie Obituary: Sir Hugh Laddie Reviewed by Jeremy on Sunday, November 30, 2008 Rating: 5


  1. We have lost a great European patent judge, an audacious man who always challenged the conventional wisdom and a dear friend. My thoughts are with his family.

  2. What struck me about Hugh from the first time I met him was the way in which he reached out to and included everybody in his warmth, friend or stranger, great or unknown. And he was always open to argument, as both the great copyright book and his numerous leading judgments very well show. What a tragedy to lose him when he should have had so many more years to continue that contribution. And how much worse for his family.

  3. Sir Hugh was the sole reason I attended UCL to study a LLM in Intellectual Property. He was a challenging, supportive and a warm advisor who impassioned me, and all of the students who were lucky enough to be in his classes, with a love for IP law and practice. He inspired me to pursue a career in IP law and guided and supported my research into new untouched topics in IP law. I, along with all the other students at UCL, will miss his presence very much.

  4. Although it was evident at the IBIL Seminar only a few weeks ago that Sir Hugh was not a well man, his characteristic good humour and wit led me to hope that matters were better than they seemed. It's thus an awful shock, although not a surprise, to hear that he has passed away.

    First Sir Nicholas Pumfrey, now Sir Hugh; the IP world has lost two of its brightest and most well-regarded stars over the last twelve months.

  5. In the world of intellectual property law, he was a prodigious, fearless, and unique hero. He was also a kind, witty, eclectic and cultured gentleman in the best sense of the word who loved fly fishing, grand opera, and above all, his family.

  6. That was a very nice obituary for a very deserving man. Just today, I came across his name several times while editing a Nigerian Copyright text book. My supervisor was very shocked to hear that this fixture in IP had passed away. His influence surely reached far beyond Europe.

  7. I am proud to have been one of his students. He impassioned all of us with a love for IP law, thanks to his enthusiasm and sense of humor. He will be hugely missed.

  8. Thanks for this remembrance. He was one of a kind, and his presence at conferences in the US (especially the Fordham International Intellectual Law and Policy Conference) gave us a wonderful opportunity to witness his keen intelligence and wit. I grieve his passing and extend symphathy to his family but will continue to celebrate his life.


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