Krieger Mes & Graf v. der Groeben – Germany 2021
At first glance, this leading IP firm for patent litigation has been developing in an entirely unspectacular manner for years but has nevertheless seen a sizeable transformation of its mobile communications work. Krieger Mes traditionally follows a very partner-focused approach. The partnership has grown extremely slowly, and its client relationships are very solid. The firm’s strong position in the key court location of Düsseldorf is based on the partners’ excellent contacts among the courts, Mittelstand clients and many German patent attorneys. The volume of litigation is correspondingly high and the partners’ technical expertise suitably broad. However, litigation in pharma and biosimilar disputes only plays a minor role compared with the internationally oriented patent teams of Hogan Lovells and Bird & Bird.
From the technical spectrum, the team’s experience with SEPs and FRAND issues stands out. This is embodied by Axel Verhauwen in his work in comprehensive campaigns for the patent pool MPEG LA and other NPEs. His expertise is now also drawn on by carmakers as users of connected cars patents. Krieger Mes is no longer active for auto companies in the courtrooms because two cases for VW have been settled. However, the firm continues to work for VW in the background of connected cars suits, for example on the matter of the FRAND licence in connected car supply chains. The carmaker was also very active in the discussion surrounding patent law reform up to mid-2021. Krieger Mes has thus already achieved what other firms like Noerr are still striving towards: using their mobile communications expertise from NPE suits and solid ties in the auto industry to step up advice on connectivity aspects.
On the flip side, the perception of the firm centres very heavily on Axel Verhauwen’s activities. A stronger team approach, as nurtured by Wildanger or Rospatt Osten Pross, could counteract this strong focus and increase the firm’s appeal for major new clients. At the same time, it could raise the visibility of younger partners.
Infringement proceedings, especially in Düsseldorf and related to telecoms and software. Litigation for NPEs. Employee invention law. Extremely well-connected at German courts.
For a long time, the boutique has taken a wait-and-see approach to the potential UPC launch. Now, with the future of the court still uncertain, Krieger Mes has ruled out a merger with European firms. Instead, it relies on non-exclusive cooperation. This may limit its opportunities in cross-border litigation. Instead, the firm relies entirely on the remarkable reputation of its lawyers. Although Krieger Mes is seen less in cross-border disputes compared to other German boutiques, it is often active in major series of proceedings before the Düsseldorf courts, many of which are of the same scale as large cross-border cases. Krieger Mes’ vast experience in SEP suits and strong visibility in cases for NPEs could also make it an important player at the UPC. The firm’s strong ties to the German automotive industry in connectivity issues also points to the future.
Michael Bergermann (“highly versed on the interface of antitrust and patent law”, client), Jochen Bühling (“it is a pleasure to work with him, he always knows every little detail of his cases”, competitor), Gereon Rother, Axel Verhauwen (“lone fighter, but for me the IP litigator par excellence”, competitor)
8 partners, 3 associates
All-round IP activity with a clear focus on patent litigation. Trademarks and unfair competition.
Litigation: Onebutton (claimant) against various manufacturers over mobile communications; Claassen (claimant) against Unilin and Välinge over laminate; MPEG LA (claimant) over SEPs concerning video coding; Brose (defendant) against Kickert over boot locks for cars; SMA Solar (claimant) against SolarEdge over inverter; Fresenius Kabi (defendant) against biosimilar manufacturer over Imraldi drug; Abiomed Europe (claimant) against Abbott over intracardiac catheters; Conrad Electronic (co-claimant) against Seoul Semiconductors in nullity suit over LEDs; SMS Group against competitors over plant construction; regular litigation for Benteler, Dornbracht, GEA, ITW, Melitta/Swirl, Saint-Gobain, Tesa. Advice: VW Group in connection with connected car licences.