Biography

Michael is the Head of the Intellectual Property Group at Gilbert + Tobin.

He is widely regarded by clients and peers alike and amongst the best intellectual property litigators in Australia. He was recently awarded Intellectual Property Partner of the Year at the 2019 Lawyers Weekly POTY Awards. Leading legal directory Chambers and Partners says: “Michael Williams commands respect for his track record in copyright litigation and branding. His clients find he is a ‘keen advocate, an effective presenter in an adversarial meeting and highly knowledgeable in the applicable principles of law.’" Additionally: "Michael Williams leads the practice and is explicitly recognised by peers as one of the top-flight practitioners in the IP sphere, noted as a partner that is "formidable, extremely professional and incredibly bright."

Michael is known for his outstanding track record of success in litigation and in extracting clients from disputes on favourable terms.  He is the lawyer that leading local and international companies turn to when they need the best representation and advice on their most complex IP and technology issues. He specialises in designing the best strategies, giving clear guidance and providing robust representation.

Michael practices across the full spectrum of contentious intellectual property law: copyright and data protection; trade secrets, insider threat and cybersecurity advice and investigations; technology disputes and patent litigation; false advertising, brand disputes and anti-counterfeiting. Michael also advises on IP commercialisation and innovation strategy.

Michael has substantial trial experience in State Courts and in the Federal Court. He has also run numerous appeals in State and Federal appellate courts, including the High Court of Australia. 

Michael heads up one of Australia’s leading IP teams, which has received significant recognition under Michael’s leadership including (but not limited to) a Tier #1 ranking for Intellectual Property by Legal 500 2019, and winning the Lawyers Weekly Australian Law Awards IP Team of the Year in 2017 and 2015, having also been listed as a finalist in 2018.

Michael has written extensively on IP law. He is a regular commentator on developments in IP law and the future of legal practice in Australia.

He holds degrees in Economics and Law (First Class Honours) from the University of Sydney.  His professional memberships include INTA, the ABA, Copyright Society of Australia and IPSANZ.

Representative litigation experience includes:

  • State Street Global Advisors Trust Company v Maurice Blackburn Pty Ltd [2019] FCA 1464 (ACL, TRADE MARKS, COPYRIGHT):  Successful application for release from the Harman undertaking to use a class of documents discovered in Australian proceedings in proceedings before the Southern District of New York involving similar claims.
  • Freelancer International Pty Ltd v Matthew O’Kane [2019] NSWSC 159 (NSWSC) (CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION): Successful application for plaintiff seeking orders dismissing preliminary discovery action after threat to destroy company information carried out by ex-employee. 
  • State Street Global Advisers v Maurice Blackburn & Ors (VID113/2019) (ACL, TRADE MARKS, COPYRIGHT):  Acting for State Street Global Advisers in its high-profile case over the promotion in Australia of a replica the Fearless Girl statue outside the New York Stock Exchange. This is an important test case for protection of global corporate brand assets in Australia.  The case is going to trial in late November 2019.
  • Qudos Mutual Limited v Infosys Limited [2019] FCA 702 (COPYRIGHT, CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION) (Trial): Acting for financial institution in successful application for discovery from an IT supplier contracted to deliver an integrated banking platform.
  • Encompass Corporation & Anor v InfoTrack (NSD734/2018) (PATENTS): Acting for the patentee and licensee of online search technology in patent infringement proceedings against a competitor. It is one of the most significant cases concerning software patents in decades with the Court considering when computer software can meet the threshold for "manner of manufacture".  The appeal attracted a rare 5 member judicial bench to determine the eligibility of software under Australian patent law. 
  • Boomerang Investments v John Paggett & Ors (NSD1738/2017) (ENTERTAINMENT, COPYRIGHT): Currently acting for the band “Glass Candy”, in defence of infringement claims relating to the song “Love is in the Air”.  The decision  will clarify the extent of copyright protection over a short lyrical phrase (“Love is in the Air”) and accompanying musical phrase.  A decision is anticipated in 2020.
  • Crescent Funds Management (Aust) Ltd v Crescent Capital Partners Management Pty Limited (TRADE MARKS) [2017] 123 IPR 412: Acting successfully in defence of an appeal in a case where there was a finding of misleading of deceptive conduct against a business in the financial service industry (under ss 12DA, 12DB and 12GF of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001).  
  • Australian Mud Company Pty Ltd v Coretell Pty Ltd [2017] 351 ALR 83 (PATENTS) (Full Court appeal): Acting for the successful appellant an award of damages for unjustified threats of patent infringement. The appeal decision delivered important guidance on the requirements to prove the necessary causation to recover damages for unjustified threats. The award was overturned, resulting in no damages being payable.
  • Coretell Pty Ltd v Australian Mud Company Pty Ltd [2017] FCAFC 54 (PATENTS) (Full Court appeal, trial): Acting for a patentee in successful patent infringement proceedings against a competitor in connection with the use of core sample orientation technology used in connection with geological surveying operations and other drilling operations. Challenges to validity of the patents were dismissed.
  • Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd v Global Gaming Supplies Pty Ltd [2016] FCAFC 22 (TRADE MARKS) (Full Court appeal, trial): Acting for a major gaming machine manufacturer in its trade mark infringement proceedings against the participants in a joint venture from 1 October 2004 supplying refurbished gaming machines with counterfeit parts to overseas markets including the South American market. 
  • Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd v Allam [2016] 327 ALR 595 (ENFORCEMENT): Successfully having writ issued in High Court set aside based on material non-disclosure in application.
  • Kafataris v Davis [2016] 120 IPR 206 (PATENTS) (Full Court appeal, trial): Acting in successful defence of an appeal in dispute over ownership of and entitlement to an innovation patent for betting options using a secondary or supplemental card game in a game of baccarat.
  • Energizer Australia Pty Ltd v Procter & Gamble Australia Pty Ltd [2016] FCA 347 (BRANDS) (Trial): Successfully obtaining a finding of contempt against a supplier of batteries following a successful claim for misleading or deceptive conduct over battery advertising.
  • Samsung Electronics Australia Pty Limited v LG Electronics Australia Pty Limited [2015] 113 IPR 11 (ADVERTISING) (Trial): Acting for a major electronic manufacturing in claims for misleading and deceptive advertising against a competitor concerning comparative advertising claims over 3D television screen technology. The decision also provided key guidance on the use of survey evidence.
  • Pavlovic v Universal Music Australia Pty Limited [2015] NSWCA 313 (ENTERTAINMENT) (NSW Court of Appeal, trial): Acting for a major recording company in connection with a dispute over a label joint venture. The decision provided guidance on the requirements for holding parties to a settlement negotiated between their legal practitioners.
  • Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd v Global Gaming Supplies Pty Ltd [2013] 297 ALR 406 (High Court appeal, Full Court appeal, trial): Acting in High Court appeal in case concerning alleged copyright infringement by participants in a joint venture from 1 October 2004 supplying refurbished gaming machines with counterfeit parts to overseas markets including the South American market. 
  • Roadshow Films Pty Ltd v iiNet Limited [2012] 248 CLR 42 (COPYRIGHT) (High Court appeal, Full Court appeal, trial):  Acting for the motion picture studios in their copyright infringement action against an Australian ISP. The case, one of the first in the world to consider the liabilities of ISPs, and determined key issues including the how infringements occur on file sharing systems, liability for authorisation and safe harbours under Australian law.  The case was the precursor to the enactment of the Australian site blocking regime.
  • Fernandez v Perez [2012] NSWSC 1242 (ENTERTAINMENT): Acting in the successful defence of a major international artist (PitBull) against a contract claim brought by a music promoter.
  • Procter & Gamble Australia Pty Limited v Energizer Pty Limited (No 2) [2011] FCA 1347 (ADVERTISING) (Trial): Acting for the successful defendant against claims of misleading of deceptive conduct relating to advertising and promotion of personal razors. 
  • IceTV Pty Limited v Nine Network Australia Pty Limited [2009] 239 CLR 458 (COPYRIGHT) (High Court appeal, Full Court appeal, trial): Acting for a major Australian television network in its claim for infringement in program schedules.  In its first judgment considering the scope of copyright protection in compilations since 1918, the High Court gave an authoritative ruling on copyright protection in Part III original works.
  • Venus Adult Shops Pty Ltd v Fraserside Holdings Ltd [2006] FCAFC 188 (COPYRIGHT) Full Court appeal, trial): Acting for successful copyright owner in claims of infringement in adult films. Defences based on claims of illegality in the films and their sale were dismissed in the appeal.
  • Spatialinfo Pty Ltd v Telstra Corporation Ltd [2006] FCA 950 (COPYRIGHT, CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION) Settled before trial): Acting for Autodesk in major copyright infringement and confidential information action against Autodesk and Telstra by the creator of several computer programs used in a cadastral network system.
  • Cooper v Universal Music Australia Pty Ltd [2006] FCAFC 187 (COPYRIGHT) Full Court appeal, trial): Acting for the Australian recording industry in its landmark case against an operator of a hyperlinking pirate music website for copyright infringement.  The case established the principles still in use today in copyright actions involving online file downloads from overseas websites. Special leave was refused.
  • Universal Music Australia Pty Ltd v Sharman License Holdings Ltd [2005] 222 FCR 465 (COPYRIGHT) (Full Court appeal, trial): ("the Kazaa case"): Acting for the Australian recording industry in its landmark win against the operators of the Kazaa file-sharing system. In conjunction with parallel legal action the United States, the case produced 16 judgments on the way to a historic multi-million dollar settlement.
  • Nine Films & Television Pty Ltd v Ninox Television Limited [2005] 67 IPR 46 (COPYRIGHT) (Trial): Acting for a major Australian television network in defence of claims of copyright infringement in a television format. This is one of the very few decisions on the scope of copyright in television formats and provides guidance on when such formats will be infringed.
  • Datadot Technology Ltd v Alpha Microtech Pty Ltd [2003] FCA 962 (PATENTS) (Trial): Acting for the patentee in the first successful infringement action brought in relation to an innovation patent certified in Australia.
  • CDPP v Ng, Tran and Le [2003] NSWLC 17 (COPYRIGHT, CRIMINAL LAW): Acting for the Australian recording industry in support of the first criminal prosecution of internet pirates in Australia, relating to the download service known as "mp3wmaland".  The two principals (Tran and Ng) were convicted and received prison sentences of 18 months, suspended for three years.

Winner: Intellectual Property Partner of the Year

Lawyers Weekly Partners of the Year Awards 2019

Michael is ranked as a leading individual in the Intellectual Property category.

Legal 500 2019

Michael is ranked in Band 1 for Intellectual Property: Trade Mark & Copyright.

Chambers Asia-Pacific 2019

Michael was named Best Lawyer in the Litigation category. 

Best Lawyers Australia 2020

Michael is ranked as a leading lawyer for Dispute Resolution & Litigation and Intellectual Property.

Asialaw 2018

Michael was recognised in the areas of Patent Strategy & Counseling, Trade Mark Strategy & Counseling, Patent Litigation, Trade Mark Litigation and Copyright.

IP Star

Intellectual Property Team of the Year

Lawyers Weekly Australian Law Awards 2017

Intellectual Property Team of the Year

Lawyers Weekly Australian Law Awards 2015