JUVE Patent

McDermott Will & Emery – Germany 2020

JUVE Comment

The German patent practice of this US firm is well positioned in the German market thanks to strong connections to auto suppliers. Although it is not visible in the frontline of litigators for the high-profile connected cars suits, it is advising Harman International, one of the most important suppliers of connectivity components, extensively in the background. In the litigation for the Avanci pool, it was DLA which represented Harman as intervener for Daimler. The firm also acquired an Asian component supplier as client, who is preparing for NPE suits from connected cars patents. The litigation for Harman shows how effectively the ties between the preeminent US practice and the German patent team can work. However, the firm has not brought this strength into play often enough so far – partly because the European team is too small. It is not only connectivity aspects that play a role for the practice. Work for other auto suppliers like ZF Friedrichshafen centres on more traditional car components. Henrik Holzapfel enjoys a strong name for litigation involving chemicals and pharma patents. The lawyers also litigate in medical products proceedings.


Advice to the auto industry.

European strategy

The US firm has long been interested in the European (especially German) market. But the small German team is only the beginning if the firm wants to be at the forefront of European cross-border litigation. McDermott has a patent team in Paris as well but has failed to hire a starting team in London. However, it would be decisive to finally establish this, so that US partners follow the example of the Harman Becker case and refer clients to Europe on a more consistent basis.

Recommended individuals

Henrik Holzapfel (“has excellent knowledge of the mobile communications standardisation scene”, client)


3 partners, 5 associates


IP practice with equal specialties in soft IP and technical protection rights. Primarily nullity suits and infringement proceedings as well as strategic advice. Employee invention law.


Litigation: Regularly for Paul Hartmann Group (incl. Bode Chemie); Harman International on audio coding and connected cars (esp. licences and contract law); Kanzler Verfahrenstechnik (defendant) against Solvay over chemical production plants; ZF Friedrichshafen (defendant) against TMD Friction over brakes; Scolmore (claimant) against FS.com over electrical plug connections. Advice: Harman International on strategy, portfolio management and licences; Berylls and Vestel on patent licences; Asian component supplier on SEPs.


Düsseldorf, Munich