John Coldham > Gowling WLG > London, England > Lawyer Profile

Gowling WLG
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John Coldham is an experienced litigator of all types of intellectual property (IP). His priority is to help clients to maximise the return on their investment in their IP, through strengthening their portfolio and strategically enforcing it against infringers.

IP arises through investment in business, whether it is in development of new products or services, new packaging or new marketing approaches and branding. As a result, IP is often what distinguishes one business from another and makes it a success. John advises clients on how this investment can be protected through registered and unregistered rights, and works with them to ensure that infringement of their IP is managed in the most commercially appropriate manner.

John works closely with clients to ensure that they are getting the most out of their investment in their business – be that in the brand, the R&D or the design elements. By taking time to ensure he really understands the commercial importance of different aspects of the business, he helps clients ensure that budgets are used in the most cost-effective way, with a constant eye on the commercial objectives.

Whether the budget is big or small, every client has the same wish – that it is spent effectively and responsibly while obtaining the best possible result. Our team has spent a lot of time considering costs of litigation and we pride ourselves on our accurate and competitive estimates.

John’s experience covers cases big and small, from running multi-jurisdiction patent litigation to design right cases in the Intellectual Property & Enterprise Court. Clients from around the world trust John’s sensible, considered advice, and praise his commercial nous.

John is also very involved with IP policy, particularly in the area of designs, where he has particular experience. He is a member of the Design and Copyright Committees of both the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) and the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (ITMA), and is a long-standing member of both organisations.


  • Advising Unilever in relation to its emergency injunction against the British National Party was a day that stands out. John obtained instructions at 11am that the British National Party had released a party political broadcast online that featured a picture of a jar of Marmite in the corner throughout (without permission), and the party was due to air its broadcast on national television the following day. Within a few hours John was in court, having tried to negotiate with the party but not obtaining the necessary assurances. After a detailed hearing involving analysis of a number of discrete issues, the High Court ordered the injunction, which was served shortly afterwards. Press analysis described the case as an example of “best practice”.
  • Advising Dyson in relation to dispute involving its registered design in its original cylinder vacuum cleaner at the High Court and Court of Appeal. The case is often cited as precedent in other design law cases.
  • Acting for Hasbro in a major brands dispute involving the Play-Doh trade mark. The case was particularly hard-fought, and this was a highlight not just because it was hugely successful for the client but also because it drew out the best in everyone in the team despite the sometimes extremely long hours!
  • Advising JTI on a major multi-jurisdictional patent dispute about electronic cigarette technology.


John works with clients across a number of sectors, from tech start-ups to global manufacturers of fast-moving consumer goods. John acts for cli…



Lawyer Rankings

London > TMT (technology, media and telecoms) > Intellectual property: trade marks, copyright and design

(Next Generation Partners)

John ColdhamGowling WLG

Gowling WLG‘s copyright, trade mark, and design practice focuses on brands and designs, with several practitioners in the team spanning both disciplines and working across litigation and transactional work. With the London and Birmingham offices working in tandem, brand strategy and enforcement expert Kate Swaine leads the soft IP practice, praised by clients as ‘one of the best trade mark and copyright lawyers in the UK’.  The team regularly advises on trade mark infringement and registered designs, also recently representing clients in a number of high-profile passing off cases. John Coldham is also highly praised for his excellent track record in design cases and is ‘well versed in balancing legal questions against business needs and PR aspects’.  Senior associates Khemi Salhan and Zoe Pearman are also of note.

London > Industry focus > Retail and consumer

The sizeable team at Gowling WLG advises retailers across all legal disciplines including handling competition, construction and IP matters. The team is co-led by John Coldham and Jocelyn Paulley, who moved into the role in March 2022; the pair took over from former head Chris Hunt, who focuses on real estate mandates. Coldham is well regarded for his expertise in both IP strategy and litigation, while Paulley acts for both established retail brands and start-ups, and leverages her data protection knowledge to oversee digital infrastructure mandates. Kate Swaine is also recommended for IP work and Sarah Riding handles commercial matters.