Pinsent Masons – France 2023
Over the past few years, European firm Pinsent Masons has increased its visibility in France. Like the London and Dutch offices, the well-established Paris practice is focused on expanding the patent client base in several sectors. The French patent team is demonstrating this via an increasing number of cross-border instructions, especially on the generic drug company and biosimilar side: for example, in the past year it has won new client Zentiva, for which it acted against Novartis in the pan-European battle over cancer drug fingolimod. The visibility of this dispute is a boon for the team under the leadership of legal director Jules Fabre, who is recognised in the market as an up-and-coming young lawyer. Several competitors say he is “very good; he is one to watch”. Alongside Zentiva, the firm has also won at least three new instructions for generic drug companies, which demonstrates how the European practice’s visibility is translating into new clients for the specific practices. Here, the firm’s work for Teva in Germany, the UK and the Netherlands could also translate into representation for the French team, which is also concentrating on securing new instructions from international clients, rather than domestic entities. With this strategy so far seeming to bear fruit, the French team is beginning to emerge as a choice for companies in many fields wishing to litigate before the upcoming UPC. However, the firm has – unlike other French firms in the market – decided against investing in a parallel patent prosecution practice. This might be to its detriment, if clients are keen to instruct firms which offer the whole package.
Unlike competitors such as Allen & Overy or Linklaters, the French office of Pinsent Masons is also yet to appear in high-profile mobile communication disputes in France, although it is more visible than its London office in work concerning automative clients – an example is the defence of Global Wheel against Hutchinson over improved inflation systems. Pinsent Masons seems poised to continue its growth trajectory – perhaps the French team might now consider a new lateral hire, which could strengthen the firm’s partnership and bolster its visibility in mobile communication cases.
Litigation in automotive, energy and technology.
The signs at Pinsent Masons are clearly pointing towards an expansion of the European practice. The UK team, which has recently raised its headcount significantly, is still the most visible of the firm’s European patent practices, although it is also focusing on expanding its Dutch team especially. However, the German practice has still not recovered from major partner losses over the past few years; further expansion here and in France, which are core locations of the UPC, would help truly strengthen and integrate Pinsent Masons’ European team.
The firm appears less frequently in large pan-European litigation for key clients with cross-border teams, compared to the market-leading teams like Hogan Lovells or Bird & Bird. A notable exception is the London team’s case for Teva against Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer over Eliquis, demonstrating the team is recognising the benefits of closer cooperation. However, the challenge remains to establish a quality of advice similar to London in the key jurisdictions. A step in the right direction was the entry into the Dutch patent market with partners András Kupecz and Judith Krens, both of whom are well-regarded lawyers with extensive experience in pharmaceutical disputes. Kupecz is also dual qualified as a patent attorney.
Emmanuel Gougé, Jules Fabre (“very visible in the market; one to watch”, competitor)
Focus on patent litigation concerning technology, especially in the automotive, energy and aerospace sectors. Licensing projects, FTO analysis and transactions.
Litigation: Accord (defendant) against Sanofi over second medical use patent for prostate cancer drug Jevtana; Zentiva (defendant) against Novartis over PI against MS treatment Gilenya (fingolimod); Global Wheel (defendant) against Hutchinson in infringement action including seizure (saisie-contrefaçon) over wheel with improved inflation system; automotive supplier (claimant) against competitor over catalytic depollution technologies; manufacturer of heavy-duty lifting technology (claimant) against competitor over wireless communication system; German aerospace supplier (defendant) against French competitor over structural parts of aeroplane wings; German manufacturer of optical sensors (claimant) against competitor over employee invention law and trade secrets. Advice: Teva and Accord on FTO analysis and market entry of generic drugs manufacturers, France Brevets.