JUVE Patent

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer – Netherlands 2021

JUVE Comment

With a strong presence in high-profile cases in the pharma and biotech field, Freshfields’ Dutch patent litigation team is only a little way behind the market leaders.

Rutger Kleemans put in a particularly strong performance, for instance on the side of Novartis. The pharma corporation is one of the European patent team’s most important regular clients. In such cross-border cases, the Dutch team often works closely with its German counterpart. The Dutch team also boasts good ties to Moderna, which the rest of the European patent practice could benefit from. Both clients underline the good connections to the pharmaceutical research industry that Freshfields is known for.

Like competitors Bird & Bird or Hogan Lovells, the Freshfields team was not quite as active in mobile communications cases as in previous years. Overall, only a few new cases landed at the Dutch courts, and the Freshfields team did not get a chance to shine. The firm also had to accept that Assia transferred litigation in a DSL case against KPN to Simmons & Simmons. But, unlike some other Dutch teams, Freshfields has benefited from its international connections. The Amsterdam lawyers had an advantage in the German team’s strong visibility in mobile communications and connected cars cases, and advised Lenovo and Continental on the Dutch aspects of SEP and FRAND issues. Should an NPE launch a new pan-European lawsuit against Apple, Freshfields’ presence in mobile communications cases could quickly recover. It is known in the market that the European team has very close connections to the iPhone manufacturer.

The Freshfields partnership is much smaller than those of the two market leaders Brinkhof and Hoyng ROKH Monégier. However, young partner Jelle Drok is gaining in visibility alongside Rutger Kleemans, although the young partner is primarily seen by the market as a general IP litigator. Raising his profile as a pure patent lawyer is perhaps the biggest challenge facing the Dutch team, if it wants to gain more freedom to move in complex cross-border disputes.


Innovator pharmaceutical work for legacy clients, including strategic and commercial advice. Cross-border litigation, including SEP and FRAND cases.

European strategy

The Dutch office continues to be an important mainstay of the firm’s well-integrated European patent team, as strong connections to Novartis and Apple show. Globally, Freshfields’ patent practice is particularly strong on the European continent, with a further strong offering in Düsseldorf and Munich. In Germany, the Freshfields team is getting closer to the market leaders because of its strong presence in high-profile cases in the pharma and mobile communications fields.

The firm’s well-regarded cross-border links are worth noting; Freshfields provides a masterclass on how to ensure all European offices remain part of a well-organised machine. In particular, the Amsterdam-Düsseldorf-Munich axis is strong. The London IP litigation offering was strengthened three years ago by the arrival of a team from Arnold & Porter. It continues to gain momentum, as shown by work for clients such as Facebook and Continental. But the London team still looks small in terms of litigator numbers compared to competitors such as Allen & Overy, Bird & Bird and Hogan Lovells. In contrast, Freshfields in Germany and the Netherlands operates on a par with these European heavyweights.

On the other hand, Freshfields foregoes patent experts in Paris, preferring to cooperate with the general dispute resolution team instead. This strategy may be in line with the firm’s litigation focus as a whole, but it limits the patent practice as regards cross-border disputes. It could also be a disadvantage if the UPC does indeed launch as a continental version soon.

Recommended individuals

Rutger Kleemans, Jelle Drok (“really good, I don’t like being opposite him”, competitor)


2 partners, 8 associates


Complex technology disputes, for example regarding pharmaceutical drugs on the innovator side and mobile communication litigation, including standard essential patents and FRAND issues. Transactions and licensing deals.


Litigation: Novartis (claimant) against Mylan regarding iron chelator Exjade; Novartis (claimant) against Teva regarding chemotherapy drug Affinitor; Bristol-Myers Squibb (defendant) against Pfizer regarding cancer drugs; Impro Technologies (appellant) regarding magnetic card readers; Hewlett Packard (claimant) against various imitations of printer cartridges; regularly for Apple, Hoffmann-La Roche, Lenovo and Continental (all public knowledge). Advice: Global counsel for Moderna on various patent issues outside the US; Talpa Network, PGGM regarding transactions, licences and portfolio management; Talpa Network regarding transactions and IP licences for online gaming; EQT Private Equity regarding sale of Desotec to Blackstone; Catalent regarding acquisition of Delphi Genetics.