Krieger Mes & Graf v. der Groeben – Germany 2022
With a broad technical focus and some outstanding litigators such as Axel Verhauwen this Düsseldorf IP boutique has been at the top of the German market for patent litigation for years. Its experience with SEP and FRAND proceedings in the mobile communications sector stands out, as does intensive advice to Volkswagen on this key issue. In lawsuits over pharmaceuticals, on the other hand, Krieger Mes is rarely seen when original drug manufacturers defend themselves internationally against generics companies entering the market.
The firm was outstripped in this regard some years ago by Düsseldorf competitors, such as Hogan Lovells, Rospatt Osten Pross and Freshfields. It will only be possible for the firm to catch up if its notable partners make targeted investments. They, however, are busy with numerous technically broad series of proceedings, for example for Classen over laminates, Brose over boot locks for cars, SMA Solar Inverter over solar panels and Melitta/Swirl over household products.
Widening the partnership would not only make sense because the next generational change is looming but would also create more scope for strategic expansion into the still underdeveloped life sciences sector. Krieger Mes already has a foot in the door of the high-stakes medical technology sector, with Abiomed as a client.
Infringement proceedings, especially related to telecoms and software. Litigation for NPEs. Employee invention law. Extremely well connected at German courts.
At first glance, the Düsseldorf IP boutique, which has long banked on its national independence, would not appear predestined to play a key role before the UPC. The partners do not nurture a team approach, their payment model is not integrated, and the firm frequently appears for national tech giants before the German courts and less often than other German boutiques in the large cross-border cases.
But appearances are deceptive. The days of relying solely on its outstanding position at Europe’s most important patent court, Düsseldorf, and the wait-and-see approach to the UPC launch are numbered. The partners are keeping a watchful eye on the UPC’s development. Jochen Bühling and Verhauwen also enjoy an excellent reputation internationally. In addition, some of the partners have strong relationships in France, Belgium and Italy. Here the firm relies on non-exclusive cooperation with litigation firms, though these are being wooed by other German firms for the UPC.
Nevertheless, Krieger Mes is prepared to defend its leading national position internationally for the UPC. In fact, clients such as the patent pool MPEG LA or NPEs such as Onebutton make it likely that Krieger Mes will appear before the UPC very early on on the claimant side of SEP and FRAND suits. If Krieger Mes hopes to run several such suits at the new court, however, it will have to grow, and the partners will need to step up cooperation in cases. On the other hand, it will not give up its position as a pure law firm with good relationships to German patent attorney firms so quickly.
Michael Bergermann, Jochen Bühling (“knows all the tricks and yet is still pleasant, objective and solution-oriented”, “very impressive in court”, competitors), Gereon Rother, Axel Verhauwen (“we run all our SEP issues by him”, client; “the IP litigator par excellence”, competitor)
8 partners, 5 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; MPEG LA (claimant) against Samsung over digital video-coding standard; Classen (claimant) against Unilin and Välinge over laminate; 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; Julius Glatz (claimant) against Schweitzer-Mauduit International/SWM over cigarette papers including damages claim; Abiomed Europe (claimant) against Abbott over intracardiac catheters (settled 2022); Conrad Electronic (co-claimant) against Seoul Semiconductor in nullity suit over LEDs; SMS Group against competitors over plant construction; BOS (defendant) against Webasto over vehicle roofs; regular litigation for Benteler, Dornbracht, GEA, ITW, Melitta/Swirl, Saint-Gobain, Tesa. Advice: VW Group in connection with connected car licences.