De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek – Netherlands 2022
The patent litigation team of the Dutch full-service firm continues to be an extremely visible presence in the Dutch patent market with an impressive client list, successfully capitalising on the expertise from across its various internal departments to strengthen its IP offering. For example, on the telecommunication side, lawyers from the firm’s M&A and transactional practices have been involved alongside the patent team in litigating for clients, including Sharp in a campaign against Oppo. With highly-visible and recommended partner Gertjan Kuipers leading here, as well as in the majority of the firm’s patent cases, the support from De Brauw’s internal talent pool remains vital in ensuring its patent practice continues to pursue the market leaders – some of which have a successful pan-European set-up. As a national firm, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroeklacks these inherent links.
However, this is not to say the firm is struggling for visibility among its competitors – indeed, it often leverages relationships with external firms to conduct cross-border litigation. This, as well as the firm’s telecommunication cases also often involving FRAND work, means the patent team is heavily involved for patent pool GEVC and Access Advance against Vestel regarding its FRAND defence. Using its connections to remain visible in the European market is especially crucial given rising numbers of licensing and SEP disputes, where the practice could also benefit from Gertjan Kuipers maintaining a level of experienced counsel and senior associates adept in running such cases. Because of a lack of other partners – since 2020 the partnership has seen no joiners – the firm’s senior associates must work hard to ensure their names are out in the market to guide potential clients towards De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek’s patent capabilities.
Although the firm is certainly more visible in telecommunications and electronics cases, the retention of some clients in the medical devices sector means the continuation of a major piece of litigation between Advanced Bionics against MED-EL. In the past, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek has acted for leading pharmaceutical companies such as Eli Lilly. Although currently not visible for this client, over 2022 the practice nevertheless continued to demonstrate its talent in litigating these blockbuster cases with a win for Amgen against Accord at the Dutch Supreme Court. However, the firm remains most visible for key client Ferring, for whom it obtained a favourable judgment against several competitors in a case highlighting the team’s knowledge of patent entitlement, alongside its litigation abilities. This mixture of expertise also extends to other cross-border cases involving, for example, a client from the mechanical sector.
Patent disputes in mobile communications, including arbitration. Technical and mechanical patent litigation.
Although De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek is a firmly Dutch offering, it maintains an international outlook both via its client approach and unique set-up. This means it continues to be visible in some cross-border cases such as for Sonos against Google. However, the firm’s national set-up means leading partner Gertjan Kuipers is its main name on the international stage and as such, expanding the team is especially imperative with the approaching UPC. This also means forming close ties with other litigation firms is key. Although it has already done this in some instances, for example working with Italian firm BonelliErede in its work for Bolton Adhesives, and with Düsseldorf-based boutique Wildanger for the Sharp proceedings in 2021. Maintaining such ties and cooperating with market-leading firms in Germany, such as Hoyng ROKH Monegier, and in the UK such as Powell Gilbert, will help the firm secure as good visibility in Europe as it enjoys in the Netherlands.
The fact remains, however, that the De Brauw team is in a potentially unfavourable position when it comes to attracting clients for cross-border work, especially in Europe. As a national full-service firm, it lacks both the stand-out speciality of being a boutique patent practice and the ability to transfer work between European offices, which is an advantage for its international counterparts. On the other hand, the firm is not shy about forging links with other market-leading outfits to deliver expertise across multiple jurisdictions and a large bench of associates provide support across a broad spectrum of sectors. Now the patent team itself must do its best to not get swallowed up among the firm’s competing internal departments.
Gertjan Kuipers (“very good trial lawyer with an eye and understanding for what is necessary”, “excellent litigator, always sails close to the wind but never crosses the red lines”, both competitors).
Patent disputes with a broad technical background, including arbitration and entitlement actions. Also trade secrets, strategic IP advice and transactions. Supreme Court litigation in pharmaceutical cases. Strong cooperation between the patent and M&A practices.
Litigation: Sonos (defendant) against Google in cross-border dispute over smart speaker systems; KPN (defendant) against High Point over UMTS patents; Sharp (defendant) against Oppo over standard essential telecommunication patents (settled in 2021); GEVC and Access Advance (defendant) against Vestel over FRAND; Ferring (claimant, co-counsel with Bird & Bird) against AbbVie, Fein and Serenity over desmopressin; Biogen (defendant) against Fresenius and Gedeon Richter over pharmaceutical patent infringement; Amgen (defendant) against Accord over cinacalcet; Bayer (defendant) against Leadd B.V. over oncology business contractual disputes; Jacobs Douwe Egberts (claimant) against Belmoca regarding aluminium coffee capsules. Advice: Jacob Douwe Egberts regarding aluminium coffee capsules; Ferring on key products; Ocean Cleanup (pro-bono) on IP rights protection; Koninklijke Philips on sale of domestic applicances business; Fugro on sale of business assets.