JUVE Patent

Allen & Overy – France 2023

JUVE Comment

The patent team of Allen & Overy’s French office continues to put pressure on the market leaders, both through its work for multiple high-profile pharmaceutical companies and via a growing client list in telecommunications. Its visibility on both ends of the patent litigation spectrum is undoubtedly helped by highly regarded partners Laëtitia Bénard and David Por, who steer the life sciences and telecommuncations teams respectively. Perhaps one of the most important cases for the firm has been the dispute over cancer drug fingolimod, where Bénard leads for Novartis against several generic drug manufacturers. With the firm’s new US team also involved for Novartis, ties between the European and US practices should also strengthen, especially with the upcoming UPC. The firm’s representation of innovator drug companies continues, for example in representing Bayer against Teva, and through its work for Merck Sharp & Dohme against generics companies over cholesterol drug Inegy. The latter case, which involves work on the SPC holder’s side and a referral to the French Supreme Court, highlights the firm’s talents in handling complex proceedings.

The global battle between Nokia and Oppo over SEPs, as well as non-essential patents is keeping the other side of the practice busy, with Allen & Overy representing Nokia in the French proceedings of the pan-European dispute. Such an instruction is undoubtedly helping bolster the firm’s visibility in mobile communication and licensing cases. Given that the firm is also representing Google in proceedings against Sonos, as well as other actions, Allen & Overy’s historic strength in life sciences is increasingly complemented by its growing aptitude for work over mobile communication patents. This strength is enhanced through the emergence of young counsel Charles Tuffreau, who is especially visible for Nokia, although his main instructions come via long-term clients on the pharma side. The firm also took on a patent attorney from Regimbeau to strengthen its offer of representing clients both in oppositions before the EPO, as well as in litigation before French civil courts, thereby following the example of Bird & Bird. For Tuffreau, being a dual-qualified lawyer allows him to represent clients before the EPO. But the above hires are helping cement the firm’s reputation while giving exposure to Allen & Overy’s younger generation of lawyers, who are set to carry on the partners’ legacy.


Representation of originator drug manufacturers in pharmaceutical cases. Work for high-profile mobile communication clients. Strong pan-European network.

European set-up

Allen & Overy has a fully integrated European patent litigation team. The lawyers in France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK have a strength in representing notable pharma originators and can point to numerous achievements in cross-border disputes, such as the work spanning several national groups for Pfizer and Eli Lilly. However, preeminent clients also trust in other internationally positioned patent litigation teams, such as Simmons & Simmons (Bayer) and Hogan Lovells (Eli Lilly) in Germany. On the other hand, in the global case for Nokia, the Finnish company has eschewed its usual firm Bird & Bird for Allen & Overy in Paris.

The firm’s patent litigation team is also taking its first steps in litigating for clients before the EPO. This could provide valuable experience with potential for growth regarding the UPC launch. But, compared to competitors like Bird & Bird and Hogan Lovells, Allen & Overy lacks the internal expertise of patent attorneys litigating before the EPO, although the French team has one dual-qualified lawyer and one patent attorney in the team.

In electronics and mobile communications patents, the European team has some heavy hitters among clients in the shape of Nokia, Huawei and Samsung. But they do rely on Allen & Overy’s national IP teams in some countries, rather than entrusting the firm with more than one or two pan-European proceedings. Nokia (French team) and Huawei (UK team) could potentially create conflicts for the European practice, as both clients have tended to litigate against each other. Because Huawei is now enforcing its own patents more in the context of 5G, the framework for more Allen & Overy involvement is changing. The Samsung contact offers an excellent foundation for more joint activity with the teams in Paris and London, especially given the French team’s recent work for the company against Ericsson.

The firm’s huge investment in an eleven-partner litigation team on the US west and east coasts should pay dividends for the European practice, especially in the high-tech and life sciences sectors. Competitors Simmons & Simmons and Bird & Bird cannot currently rely on such a US base.

Ultimately, Allen & Overy has made significant progress in coordinating and developing its European practice. With offices in most of the key European jurisdictions and excellent positions in the French and UK markets, as well as a growing team in Germany, Allen & Overy’s patent litigation team is ready to play an important role at the UPC.

Recommended individuals

Laëtitia Bénard, David Por, Charles Tuffreau


12 lawyers, 1 patent attorney, 1 dual qualified


Strong focus on litigation in patents, especially pharma, biotech and telecommunications. Arbitration, transactions and cross-border licensing agreements.


Litigation: MGI (defendant) against Illumina on DNA sequencing; Novartis (claimant) against several generics manufacturers over medicinal products for cancer; Bayer (claimant) against Teva over Nexavar; Merck Sharp & Dohme (claimant) against generics companies over cholesterol drug Inegy; Google (claimant) against Sonos over smart speakers; Google (co-defendant with Apple) against Ferid Allani over operating system Android; Nokia (claimant) against Oppo/OnePlus over SEPs for mobile communication and FRAND.