Linklaters – UK 2023
The well-positioned patent team of this international full-service firm is best known for litigation for high-profile pharmaceutical clients. Linklaters positions itself on the side of innovators like Sanofi, as well as GSK and its subsidiaries. For its regular clients, the team is involved in cross-border suits, such as for Sanofi against Amgen over important cholesterol drugs. Another significant battle for ViiV/GSK against Gilead over a HIV-inhibitor drug has recently been settled.
On the other hand, the small London practice lacks the manpower to expand the client base beyond the established pharma innovators into other technical fields, in particular the mobile communications sector. The team has decided not to spend capacities on this for the time being. As such, the firm has begun to make moves into the renewable energy sphere, where it mainly concentrates on advising manufacturers of wind turbines or batteries. Advisory work such as transactions, licences or FTOs are in line with the overall firm’s strong transactional focus. However, the test will only be passed when the patent team actually comes into play for innovative renewable energy companies in the courtroom.
Pharma litigation, transactional work in IP.
In the healthcare sector, the Linklaters teams in London, Frankfurt and Paris consistently work together in high-profile cases for originator companies like ViiV, Sanofi and GSK. Linklaters has solid teams in France, Germany and the UK. But the firm has higher ambitions for cross-border disputes. For this, it must develop a visible patent team in the Netherlands, which would also give it a more rounded offering for the UPC.
Even if the European practice is already in the top league with competitors such as Hogan Lovells or Allen & Overy in the pharma sector on the originator side, it is lagging well behind in other areas. This is mainly due to the lack of a consistent strategy for other technologies at European level.
While both the German and French teams are making huge strides when it comes to winning clients from the mobile communications or high-tech sectors, such as Seoul Semiconductors concerning LEDs, the London team trails behind. This is mainly because it has decided to focus the small team on life sciences and renewable energies. If the European team really wants to catch up to the market leaders such as Bird & Bird and Hogan Lovells, it must invest in its presence in the Netherlands, but also in a powerful high-tech team. Clifford Chance recently showed that the time is ripe for this with two lateral hires from Hoyng ROKH Monegier in Germany.
Soft IP, patents and transactions, historically with a strong focus on life sciences.
Litigation: ViiV/GSK (claimant) and Shionogi against Gilead over HIV-inhibitor drug (settled in 2022); Sanofi (defendant) and Regeneron against Amgen over cholesterol-lowering drug Praluent (ended in the UK); Sanofi (claimants) against Immunex/Amgen over eczema and asthma treatments; international drug manufacturer (claimant) against competitor in revocation case over patent for anti-cancer treatment. Advice: manufacturers of batteries and wind turbines regarding patent strategy, licences, FTO analysis and joint ventures as well as regarding pre-litigation.