JUVE Patent

Bristows – UK 2020

JUVE Comment

This market-leading London patent-litigation practice continues its impressive development by retaining a raft of big-name clients in both telecommunications and pharmaceuticals disputes – as well as adding more to its roster such as shipowning company Kristian Gerhard Jebsen Skipsrederi. Bristows is heavily involved in the main FRAND and SEP disputes before UK patent courts, this year representing defendant ZTE against Conversant in the Supreme Court, as well as running major disputes for SEP holders Philips and IPCom. Not many firms in London have a track record like this in the mobile communication fields and are simultaneously able to advise industry clients as well as NPEs. “Super competent at the interface between patent and antitrust law,” says one client. “Five out of five stars,” says another client. Partners like Myles Jelf have such an extraordinary reputation in the market that some industry clients ignore the fact that Bristows works for NPEs, while others express regret that they cannot use the firm. “I would love to work with the firm but unfortunately we are restricted by conflict,” says a head of litigation from a major mobile communication company. The firm’s presence in such SEP disputes is backed up by vast expertise regarding FRAND jurisdictional challenges and patent licensing programmes. But nowadays Bristows balances its work in telecommunications cases with a raft of instructions in life sciences, notably for biosimilars and supplementary protection certificates (SPCs). It has a range of originator manufacturers as clients, which have recently stepped up a gear in front of the UK courts. For example, long-standing client Teva is also increasingly active against competitor and fellow originator company Eli Lilly. Although it has not added any partners to its ranks, Bristows remains the biggest practice in the London market and has not slowed down its expansion. The retirement of Alan Johnson, well known Europewide, signals the end of an era for the firm. However, the large size of the Bristows practice naturally leads to a high amount of commodity work, which affects staff turnover. This means that, in the market, Bristows is perceived as having a higher staff turnover than other comparable firms. But with 12 partners and 30 associates, the practice has a well-staggered pyramid to deal with such events. Richard Pinckney and Liz Cohen are particularly visible and frequently recommended younger partners.


Litigation in mobile communications, SEP cases with FRAND issues including jurisdictional challenge. Pharma litigation, especially regarding antibodies and SPCs (including regulatory work)

European strategy

As a London based firm, Bristows might seem limited in its reach in Europe, but its UK team often coordinates parallel proceedings across the continent. This has proven to be so effective that it has allowed the firm to win instructions away from the London courts. In some cases, such as for Heineken, the firm is running proceedings in Germany and the Netherlands alongside other patent firms (Vossius and Brinkhof). Bristows is well known for having very strong relationships to both firms, which could lead to a closer cooperation in the event of a UPC. This becomes even more important for the firm if the UPC starts without the UK and Bristows lacks direct access to the new patent system. The evidence of UPC expertise could lead US and Asian clients in particular to transfer more coordination work from UK to German or Dutch firms.

Recommended individuals

Brian Cordery (“deep knowledge, goes right into the case matter”, competitor), Myles Jelf, (“highly experienced solicitor”, competitor), Liz Cohen, Edward Nodder, Sophie Lawrance (“superb for FRAND cases”, competitor), Richard Pinckney


12 partners, 1 of counsel, 2 counsel, 30 associates

Partner moves

Alan Johnson (retired)


Boutique firm with a focus on life sciences, technology and brands. The patent team focuses on telecommunications, including FRAND and SEP cases, and pharmaceutical work. SPCs, biosimilar litigation and second medical use patents. Active for producing companies as well as NPEs. Transactions and regulatory work.


Litigation: Heineken (defendant) against AB Inbev regarding beer keg technology; KGJS (claimant) against competitor concerning a patented cement system; Philips (defendant) against Vestel over SEP and FRAND issues; Philips (claimant) against Asus, HTC and TCL over mobile communications and FRAND; Philips (defendant) against Garmin relating to GPS-based performance monitors; IPCom (claimant) against Vodafone, Lenovo, Xiaomi and HTC over mobile communications including FRAND issues; ZTE (defendant) against Conversant over mobile communication including FRAND and jurisdictional issues before the UK Supreme Court; Jushi Group against OCV concerning fibre glass; Janssen Sciences and G D Searle (defendants) against Sandoz and Hexal concerning revocation of HIV patent; Vectura (defendant) against GSK in revocation case over asthma inhalers; Fresenius Kabi (defendant) against Samsung Bioepis and Biogen regarding revocation of UK patent for biosimilar of monoclonal antibody as well as coordination of European litigation; Chiesi (defendant) against Lupin Healthcare regarding revocation of second medical use patents; Teva (defendant) against Eli Lilly over fremanezumab.