Alex Borthwick – Interview


Alex Borthwick – Interview
Alex Borthwick – Interview
Of Counsel

What inspired you to study chemistry at university?

At school, I was fortunate to be taught by an excellent chemistry teacher who brought the subject to life.  We’d often have judges from national teaching competitions sitting in to watch him teach.

What then led you to pursue a career in IP litigation?

Obtaining derisory product yields in university lab practicals suggested that my future may lie outside hands-on scientific research.  Through some work experience placements at law firms and a product development company, I saw first-hand a number of IP disputes and realised I would enjoy a role protecting creativity and innovation. Specialising in IP litigation was a natural step to take.  

Tell us about your interest in music.

I spent a gap year at the Royal Northern College of Music studying the cello and was then a university instrumental scholar and a member of the European Union Youth Orchestra, so I have been lucky to have had plenty of opportunities to play.  Highlights that spring to mind include five BBC Proms concerts, playing Elgar on an open top bus with Nigel Kennedy to publicise his latest recording, and performing string quartets in a boxing ring before a match (we got out before the fighting started).  

How does your background in chemistry complement your work as an IP litigator?

It’s been invaluable, particularly for reading in at the start of chemical patent cases and in discussions with expert witnesses.  

Which IP rights do you advise on? Do you enjoy that breadth of practice?

My practice is split between patents and soft IP, which means there is a lot of law to keep on top of, but it gives my working day great variety.  

What is the most significant case you have been involved in during your career?

As a junior lawyer at Powell Gilbert, I was part of the team that asserted the patents to controlled release oxycodone against generic market entry throughout Europe.  I recall an afternoon sitting with our barrister, the late Henry Carr, at his computer keyboard working together on his cross-examination questions for part of the UK validity case.  It was a real privilege to work so closely with him before he became a High Court judge.   

Can you share a memorable experience that stands out from your time at Powell Gilbert?

I gave an after-dinner speech at the annual retreat to celebrate the firm’s 4th anniversary, which concluded with a rendition of ‘happy birthday’ arranged for the only instruments to hand – a pink-coloured plastic child’s violin and a tambourine.  

Which innovation do you think deserves particular recognition?

This patent for a toilet snorkel doesn’t get the appreciation it deserves:
Toilet Snorkel Patent

Tell us an intriguing fact about you.

I once demonstrated a card trick to Paul Daniels (he liked it, not a lot, but he liked it).


Jessica Rosethorn – Interview


Jessica Rosethorn – Interview
Jessica Rosethorn – Interview

What inspired you to study Civil Engineering at university?

I always loved being creative especially when it came to thinking about how buildings and infrastructure were designed. After a week’s work experience at an architecture firm, I knew I wanted to explore other paths which would bring in my strengths in physics and maths – civil engineering was the perfect fit.

What then led you to pursue a career in IP litigation?

Although I loved the academic challenge of my degree, I wanted a career which could combine my scientific and engineering interests with a more commercial focus. A friend of mine suggested I look at law. I jumped at the opportunity and got as much experience as possible, including a vacation scheme at a law firm in London.

This led me to a training contract during which I had a seat in the IP team. When I began that seat, we were two months away from a patent trial. I absolutely loved the energy of building up to trial, the teamwork required and getting to grips with the subject-matter of the dispute. After that experience, I was hooked.

How does your Civil Engineering degree complement your work as an IP litigator?

Being comfortable reviewing scientific papers and learning about new technologies is an obvious benefit of an engineering degree, but another benefit that I wasn’t anticipating comes from teamwork. Teamwork plays a critical role in an engineering degree, as it does in litigation. Being ready to jump into new teams at various stages of a project is a real skill that I developed during my degree and being able to transfer that to the litigation framework has been incredibly helpful.

How would you describe a typical day for an associate working at Powell Gilbert?

No two days are ever the same, which keeps the job interesting. I’m involved in several international coordination projects so often spend time liaising with local counsel across the world. My time is otherwise spent reading, drafting documents and correspondence, and attending meetings and calls with internal teams, local counsel, clients or experts. 

I split my time roughly equally between working at home and from the office. We have an enviable breakfast and snack selection in the office, so as well as the socialising perks, you never have a poorly fed office day.

What have you found to be the most challenging aspects of working as an IP lawyer?

Litigation can move fast so it can be hard to feel you are across all the arguments (both technical and legal) being run at a given time, particularly on a big case. However, the teams are always well resourced so it’s a case of keeping up team communication and trusting that, with experience, you will get there.

What technical areas have been the primary focus of your work at Powell Gilbert so far?

Since joining PG in September 2020, I have primarily been working on the Ocado litigation that is currently ongoing all about automated storage and retrieval systems.

If you could choose your “dream technology” to litigate, what would it be?

As a civil engineering graduate, I do love a tunnel. Something to do with tunnel boring machines would be fun as that would also bring in my robotics experience.

Do you have any advice for individuals with an engineering background who are considering a career in IP litigation?

Enjoy the non-conventional route it may take you to get to a career in IP litigation. The “systems thinking” approach you learn as an engineer stands you in great stead. I won’t bang on about teamwork or scientific literacy anymore, but they are incredibly transferable skills.

Can you share a memorable experience that stands out from your time at Powell Gilbert?

The PG retreat in July 2022 – watching Pete frantically complete an age-5-jigsaw faster than his competitors whilst the rest of the firm shouted encouragement from the sidelines (all in the grounds of a stunning chateau) was pretty surreal.

Which innovation do you think deserves particular recognition?

I have to say the internet. I don’t know where I would be without Google.


Tell us an intriguing fact about you.

I was once on BBC Radio Bristol and, instead of publicizing a youth theatre production, I ended up chatting with the host about how you could zoom your pet whilst on holiday.

Rajvinder Jagdev – Interview


Rajvinder Jagdev – Interview
Rajvinder Jagdev – Interview

What inspired you to study Computer Science at university?

As long as I can remember, I’ve had an interest in computing and technology. Computer science seemed a natural fit for me.

What then led you to pursue a career in IP litigation?

I realised during my studies that my strength lay in words rather than numbers. I thought that IP law would be a great way to combine my legal reasoning skills with my background in computer science and technology.

How does your computer science degree complement your work as an IP litigator?

It has allowed me to understand technology at a fundamental level, which is crucial when formulating case strategy. It also enables me to communicate effectively with technical experts and develop the most effective way of educating the court on complex technical concepts.

What aspect of your work do you find most fulfilling?

Spending my workday grappling with cutting edge technologies is a dream! The breadth of technologies that I have the opportunity to work on is also fantastic.

What do you find the most challenging aspect of being a litigator?

Cases that end up in court tend to be very finely balanced. Developing the most effective case theory for a client is therefore a challenging part of the process particularly when there are several issues to balance. Whilst challenging, it’s also very rewarding.

What is the most significant case you have been involved in during your career?

HTC v Gemalto and Rovi v Virgin Media, which were precedent setting for the approach to patenting computer software inventions.

What is the most exciting technology you have worked on?

Combining an MRI machine and a linear accelerator to deliver targeted therapeutic radiation.

If you could choose your “dream technology” to litigate, what would it be?

Being a computer enthusiast, quantum computing would be a fascinating area to litigate.

What do you see as the biggest IP challenges for the tech sector going forward?

The rapid rate of technological innovation sometimes leaves IP law struggling to keep up. This can lead to gaps in protection, or policy struggles to ensure that rights can be secured and enforced. Emerging tech areas such as AI, blockchain, and quantum computing are pushing the boundaries of traditional IP concepts and may call for new legal paradigms.

Can you share a memorable experience that stands out from your time at Powell Gilbert?

I have worked at Powell Gilbert since 2011. I once held a series of expert meetings in a fantastically ostentatious suite in a Las Vegas hotel during the Consumer Electronics Show. Our expert was attending the show and it was the only time he was available before an evidence deadline, and CES participants had booked out virtually all of the meeting rooms. My overriding memory is lunch being served by our suite butler!

Do you have any advice for individuals with an interest in technology who are considering a career in IP litigation?

Securing a high-quality technical degree, such as in computer science, is the standard starting point for UK practitioners. Various options are then available for converting to law. Work experience or internships are helpful particularly in tech-oriented businesses or law firms with an IP capability. I would also recommend being proactive in networking within the tech and legal spheres.

Which innovation do you think deserves particular recognition?

The development of self-driving or autonomous vehicles is a really exciting area. This revolutionary technology combines various engineering disciplines such as robotics, computer vision, artificial intelligence, sensor systems and low latency wireless telecommunications.


Tell us an interesting fact about you.

In my spare time a I volunteer at my local Sikh temple where we make food packages for local food banks. We cook around 300 meals a day and have been doing so since April 2020 (the beginning of the Covid lockdown).