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Michael Burnside, Past President of LES B&I and Past Secretary of LESI

Michael Burnside, who was President of LES (Britain & Ireland) in 1980-81, has died just before his 91st birthday. Michael joined LES (B&I) in the late 60s as a founder member along with Basil Bard, Jim Cain, John Gay and others and remained a member, latterly in a retired capacity, until 2011. He had retired as a member of Council, after many very active years of service, in 1999.  During the 1990s he reported frequently on the developing policies of the European Commission and Court in respect of the Block Exemptions for certain aspects of licensing patents and know how and was involved in the UK’s representations to the Commission on this matter. Because of his experience the Commission appointed him to prepare a report during the review of the Block Exemption provisions.

Michael was very active in LES International being its Secretary for several years and a member of the Editorial Review Panel for les Nouvelles in which he wrote a regular column on European developments and, in particular, those of the European Commission regarding IPR. He frequently spoke at IPR conferences world-wide.

In addition to his work with LES he was very involved in the activities of the Institute of Chartered Patent Attorneys.

Michael gained a B.Sc in Chemistry at King’s College London at the age of 19 and worked in industry before joining Haseltine Lake as a trainee patent agent. After qualifying he worked with Mewburn Ellis and then Dunlop. To broaden his qualifications, in 1958 he moved to the United States and worked by day for Langner, Parry, Card & Langner whilst studying at night at New York University Law School to gain an LL.B. He then took US citizenship to enable him to practice as a US attorney and gain admittance to the New York Bar.

Michael returned to the UK in 1966 to set up his own firm Michael Burnside & Co, later Michael Burnside and Partners, which specialised in filing foreign patent applications for major American and Japanese companies such as Texaco, Toyota and Nippon Steel.

Michael was born on 1 July 1926 and died on 17 June 2017.  He is survived by his widow Estelle, three children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. His elder son is a member of LES (Benelux) and contributed to the European column of les Nouvelles for some years.

This obituary is compiled based on information provided by Estelle and Alec Burnside, together with Stephen Powell.

David Veasey, Membership Secretary, LES (Britain & Ireland)


Michael Connor, Past President of LES B&I

Michael Connor, one of the longest serving members of LES Britain & Ireland Council and a past president, died recently.  He retired from council in 2004.

His background as a patent attorney and founder of BT’s commercially motivated intellectual property department brought valued skills and professional influence to LES. Having previously worked at GEC, Phillips/Mullard, Sperry/Univac and Ultra Electronics, Michael began, in 1969, his 21 year career with the Post Office, and BT as it later became. In a presentation on “Running a Large Corporate Intellectual Property Department” in 1992, he recalled how an initially small IP department, in which he was the only qualified attorney, grew to more than seventy people with about half professionally qualified. He was closely involved with licensing discussions there, and early on recognised the importance of psychological analysis of the negotiators for the other party.

He advised the BBC on the content of a series on innovation and worked with the UK Patent Office on the licensing module of their innovative disk-based IP training course.  He organised LES licensing courses and was a regular lecturer on the IP courses for R&D Managers organised by Richard Reeves at Cranfield. He was a member of the UK Parliamentary and Scientific Committee and chaired the IPR Committee of the Confederation of British Industry.

He leaves a son and two daughters to whom we extend our condolences.