Sir Douglas Falconer: Judge expert in patent law

Douglas Falconer was a patents judge in the Chancery Division of the High Court from 1981 to 1989. He was always courteous – every trial before him was conducted in an atmosphere of calm, every argument scrupulously noted, every fact mastered. At the end there was a meticulously reasoned judgment and a just result. His judgments were sometimes long delayed, but once they were delivered, it was clear that all the facts had been completely covered and carefully considered.

He was a very sound lawyer, but not an innovative one. In one trial, in which he had been urged to make some rather revolutionary new law, he is said to have observed, "I'm all for innovation, but it has never been done before". Innovation in the judiciary can sometimes be dangerous.

Douglas William Falconer was born in South Shields in 1914. He read Physics at Durham University, and on graduation became a schoolmaster, first in Newcastle and then at Bromsgrove School in Worcestershire, where he remained until the outbreak of the Second World War. He was commissioned in the East Yorkshire Regiment and fought in France, being one of the last off the beaches at Dunkirk, and succeeded in bringing back with him practically the whole of his platoon. He then became an instructor and played an important part in training and planning for D-Day, for which work he was appointed military MBE.

On demobilisation he returned to Bromsgrove but wanted a more challenging life. He decided to read for the Bar and joined the Middle Temple. He had no money of his own, but his wife was able to help and he was called to the Bar in 1950. His scientific background led him to the Patent Bar and he became a pupil of Guy Aldous in Kew Shelley's chambers, where he remained throughout his professional career.

He made his mark as a junior and is still remembered for the exceptional quality of his paperwork: his pleadings and the preparation of his cases were second to none. He laid the foundation for that attention to detail that was to become his forte. His pupils included Guy's son William, who was to become a Lord Justice of Appeal. He took silk in 1967 and became a bencher of his inn in 1973.

Falconer acted as an editor of Terrell on the Law of Patents, the leading publication in the field of UK patent law and litigation practice, and he was appointed to exercise the appellant jurisdiction of the Board of Trade under the Trade Marks Act, an office he held from 1970 to 1981. He served on the Senate of the Four Inns of Court and was Chairman of the Patent Bar Association (now the Intellectual Property Bar Association) from 1971 to 1980.

When Guy Aldous retired, Falconer became head of chambers, which were then at a rather low ebb with only four members, and built it up to be one of the most successful in its field. In 1981 he was invited to become a High Court judge in the Chancery Division and said he would give it five years. Fortunately he gave it longer and retired in 1989.

Unhappily his wife Joan died in the same year, but he was able to enjoy his deep interest in the theatre and music, combining the two with a love of opera. Almost to the end he was a regular visitor to Glyndebourne. In his youth he had played the organ and in his retirement he taught himself the piano, becoming very proficient. There was always a grand piano in his room. In 1997 he married Constance Drew, a distant relation by marriage, with whom he was very happy.

Julian Jeffs

Douglas William Falconer, judge: born South Shields, Co Durham 20 September 1914; MBE 1946; called to the Bar, Middle Temple 1950, Bencher 1973; QC 1967; Kt 1981; Judge of the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division 1981-89; Chairman, Patent Bar Association 1971-80; married 1941 Joan Argent (died 1989; one son, one daughter), 1997 Constance Drew; died Cirencester, Gloucestershire 18 December 2007.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
News
news
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tvChristmas special reviewed
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all