Allen & Overy – UK 2023
A solid patent practice with expertise in mobile communication and life sciences litigation, market challenger Allen & Overy sets the standard in client quality among its peers. Its life sciences practice is headed up by the ever-impressive Marjan Noor, who continues to attract regular instruction for long-term client Eli Lilly. “She jumps out for pharmaceutical litigation,” says one competitor. However, recently appointed partner Rafi Allos leads for client Bayer in litigation against Sandoz and Accord over anticoagulant medication. This demonstrates that, while the firm had perhaps become reliant on its senior partners for major instructions, it is recognising the benefits of welcoming fresh talent – this should be especially useful in attracting clients like Bayer, which have a strong connection to the firm’s other European offices and partners. Furthermore, the life sciences team is attracting clients in the biologics sector. One example is the firm acting in upcoming proceedings for Regeneron against Amgen over a cancer treatment.
In FRAND and SEP cases, the firm’s ongoing work for Huawei, which the Supreme Court case against Unwired Planet in 2020 helped elevate, gave mobile tech-focused partners Neville Cordell and Mark Heaney a head-start in developing valuable experience in the area. This became evident over 2022 with an instruction against IP Bridge over standard essential and implementation patents, including FRAND aspects. This visibility is a boost for the firm’s tech practice, which can sometimes be overshadowed by the lengthy life sciences client list. The outcome of upcoming FRAND and SEP litigation in the UK courts might be the catalyst for the firm to secure future instruction from implementers – especially those wishing to litigate in parallel with the UPC. On cases concerning hardware, the firm litigates for Sterlite against Prysmian over fibre-optic cable technology. It has also acted in proceedings for Samsung in the field of smartphone displays, demonstrating the firm’s commitment to representing companies on the implementer side.
Elsewhere, new instructions and advisory work in AI, defence and biotechnology demonstrate that the firm’s partners are embracing diversity in their client lists. Mark Ridgway also retains client MGI Tech following last year’s litigation against Illumina over DNA sequencing patents, while ongoing EPO debates around CRISPR/Cas technology put Allen & Overy in a good position for future instructions in this area.
SEP and FRAND disputes for mobile communication companies. Representation of originator drug manufacturers in pharmaceutical cases. Strong pan-European network.
Allen & Overy has a fully integrated European patent litigation team. The lawyers in France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK have a strength in representing notable pharma originators and can point to numerous achievements in cross-border disputes. The recently settled litigation for Bayer/Elanco over a veterinary drug is a prime example of this, as is the work spanning several national groups for Pfizer and Eli Lily. However, preeminent clients – Bayer and Eli Lilly, for instance – also trust in other internationally positioned patent litigation teams, such as Simmons & Simmons (Bayer) and Hogan Lovells (Eli Lilly).
Allen & Overy’s patent litigation team is now taking its first steps in litigating for clients before the EPO. This could provide valuable experience with potential for growth regarding the UPC launch. But, compared to competitors like Bird & Bird and Hogan Lovells, Allen & Overy lacks the internal expertise of patent attorneys. The French and German teams, at least, have a few dual-qualified lawyers on board.
In electronics and mobile communications patents, the European team has some heavy hitters among clients in the shape of Nokia, Huawei and Samsung. But they do rely on Allen & Overy’s national IP teams in some countries, rather than entrusting the firm with more than one or two pan-European proceedings. Nokia (French team) and Huawei (UK team) could potentially create conflicts for the European practice, as both clients have tended to litigate against each other. Because Huawei is now enforcing its own patents more in the context of 5G, the framework for more Allen & Overy involvement is changing. The Samsung contacts offer an excellent foundation for more joint activity with the teams in Paris and London.
The firm’s huge investment in an eleven-partner litigation team on the US west and east coasts should pay dividends for the European practice, especially in the high-tech and life sciences sectors. Competitors Simmons & Simmons and Bird & Bird cannot currently rely on such a US base.
Allen & Overy has made significant progress in coordinating and developing its European practice. With offices in most of the key European jurisdictions and excellent positions in the French and UK markets, as well as a growing team in Germany, Allen & Overy’s patent litigation team is ready to play an important role at the UPC.
Rafi Allos (“one to watch in patent litigation”, competitor), Neville Cordell (“hardworking, responsive and client focused”, competitor), Mark Heaney, Marjan Noor (“strong litigation practice, particularly in life sciences”, “a genuinely good practitioner”, competitors), Mark Ridgway
Strong focus on patent litigation, especially pharma, biotech and telecommunications. Arbitration, transactions and cross-border licensing agreements.
Litigation: Airbus (defendant and claimant) against Kwikbolt over blind temporary fasteners (settled in 2021); Bayer (defendant) against Sandoz and Accord over anticoagulant medication; Huawei (defendant) against IP Bridge over SEPs and FRAND; Regeneron (claimant) against Amgen regarding binding molecules for BCMA and CD3 patents; Samsung (claimant) against Solas OLED over smartphone displays; Sterlite (defendant) against Prysmian over fibre-optic cable technology. Advice: Exscientia on collaboration with Sanofi and Bristol-Myers Squibb; strategic research and development collaboration agreements with GT Apeiron Therapeutics.