JUVE Patent

Allen & Overy – Netherlands 2022

JUVE Comment

While remaining one of the Netherlands’ smaller patent litigation practices, with just one partner heading up the Allen & Overy offering, the firm nevertheless continues to be well-positioned in the Dutch market. It has a solid list of clients, especially in the life sciences sector, and over the past few years, Frits Gerritzen has appeared in some high-profile disputes. On the telecommunication side, this includes Dutch client KPN which, alongside Nokia, continues to field a FRAND defence against opponent Assia. However, it is mostly thanks to strong links with its UK and French colleagues that the Dutch practice continues to attract instructions in cross-border cases for other clients, mainly on the life sciences side. The connection between the offices ensures the Dutch practice continues to be integrated into the overall European strategy, although partner Frits Gerritzen’s speciality in working with innovator pharmaceutical clients also means potential for the Dutch practice.

But the firm remains somewhat hidden in a market where the most dominant international firms usually have several partners and a large bench of associate support. Another notable exception to this is Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which retains just two patent partners. However, Freshfields can more evenly divide and attract work for mobile technology and life sciences clients given its strong bench of associate support. Thus, while Freshfields has gained clients such as Moderna, Allen & Overy has only slightly expanded at the associate level in an effort to cover the local- or Netherlands-based cases. This leaves only partner Frits Gerritzen working to attract bigger-name clients. While this nonetheless offers an opportunity for the firm’s associates to significantly increase their visibility, a second partner might help alleviate the pressure and allow the Dutch presence to develop a role in coordinating the pan-European cases for which it is known. Presently, this lies mainly with the London or Munich office.


Patent disputes for innovator pharmaceutical clients.

European set-up

Allen & Overy has made significant progress in coordinating and developing its European practice over the past few years. With offices in many key European jurisdictions and excellent positions in the German, French and UK markets, the firm has become a serious rival to Hogan Lovells and Bird & Bird for the crown of European market leader. However, despite its well-integrated European network and European Patent Group, the Dutch practice still falls a little short of the mark in terms of reciprocating with the quantity of cases and work for the European network. Although some cooperation between the German team and Amsterdam has been successful, for example in the now-concluded case for Bayer against Ceva, the Dutch outfit has not yet been as visible for any other clients of this calibre. As such, it has a way to go before being regarded as a central European hub for patent litigation at Allen & Overy. On the other hand, it also retains strong links with the French practice, with partner Laëtitia Bénard working closely with Frits Gerritzen to transfer work between the offices. So, although it could be a lost opportunity for the practice that neither Amsterdam nor The Hague will host what was to be London’s pharmaceutical parts of the UPC Central Division, the Paris and Munich offices of Allen & Overy remain well positioned to attract new clients. This is especially important as it challenges the leading boutiques for European dominance in the central UPC jurisdictions; in the Netherlands, the practice may have to fight especially hard to retain visibility amid an increasingly competitive market.

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Frits Gerritzen


6 lawyers


Cross-border litigation in pharmaceutical disputes. Transactional and licensing work. Broader IP practice.


Litigation: KPN (defendant, with Nokia) against Assia over SEP infringement and FRAND licensing; pharmaceutical company (claimant) against generic drug manufacturer regarding patent revocation and infringement; pharma innovator against another pharma innovator.