GvW Graf von Westphalen – Germany 2022
Sebastian Heim’s summer 2021 arrival gave the well-positioned patent litigation practice of this German full-service firm a further huge boost and raised its visibility. Just a few months previously, an IP partner from Arnold Porter had bolstered the Frankfurt office. Where initially there were only IP partners in Düsseldorf and Hamburg, the patent practice now has a large team for the important Munich patent chambers as well.
The focus of the whole team’s activity lies on patent litigation for SMEs strong in the technological sectors. Clients such as Hilti, Hörmann, ZF Friedrichshafen, Ziehm Imaging and Taco are examples from the automotive, medical technology and traditional mechanical engineering sectors, which are strongly represented.
Fully harnessing the strength of the team, which has now reached an impressive size, will hinge on the firm integrating the individual offices into instructions and finding interfaces with other GvW practices, such as renewable energies, health and digitalisation. The telecoms and electronics sectors, for instance, play a much smaller role in the patent team than in the practices of similar competitors.
Patent litigation for midsized companies
Two partners advise numerous Italian companies on their patent disputes in Germany. Nevertheless, international series of proceedings are not part of the patent team’s standard repertoire: it predominantly advises German SME clients. These are not necessarily among the companies which will file actions with the UPC early on. Nevertheless, the team, like most of its competitors, is preparing for the new court and now has offices at two of the four German local divisions.
Heim is increasingly conducting nullity suits for companies like Ziehm Imaging without external patent attorneys and is active for Taco and Invacare in EPO oppositions. This is also a good basis for UPC proceedings, when the matters of infringement and validity are heard together.
But like Noerr or Heuking, Graf von Westphalen is a nationally independent firm, which makes it difficult for the patent team as part of a full-service firm to form its own strategic alliances with other European IP firms. The patent practice has some informal but non-exclusive networks with IP firms in Europe. Graf von Westphalen’s loose best-friend network is of little help in this regard.
Sebastian Heim (“calm and pragmatic litigator”, “innovative and uncompromising litigator”, clients)
3 partners, 2 counsel, 4 associates
Sebastian Heim (from Advant Beiten)
Broad IP practice with a growing patent team. Litigation with a focus on automotive, medical devices and green tech. Infringement as well as nullity suits and EPO oppositions. Advice regarding inventor’s rights, know-how protection, trade secrets, transactions and FTO analysis. Focus on Italian clients.
Litigation: Hörmann (claimant) against Assa Abloy, Alpha Deuren and Novoferm over industrial doors; Hörmann (defendant) against Krispol and others in EPO opposition over insulation in garage doors; ZF Friedrichshafen (claimant and defendant) against other suppliers over car technology; Ziehm Imaging (defendant) against Siemens Healthcare over X-ray technology; Eden Europe (defendant) against Tegometall over shelf parts; Invacare (claimant) against Sunrise medical over wheelchair technology, including connectivity; Taco Italia (claimant and defendant) against Grundvos over pump technology, frequent litigation for Allgeier IT Solutions, Alnatura, Cerafiltec, Hilti, Rembe, Sartorius Stedim, Schlenk Metallic Pigments, SCM Group, Umarex, Vertex, Völker, ZF Wind. Advice: Voestalpine on R&D projects and licences.
Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich