This leading litigation practice for patents was seen yet again in numerous proceedings with mixed teams of lawyers and patent attorneys, where it displays a vast technical breadth going beyond strong expertise in pharmaceuticals and mobile communications cases. Mobile communications litigation for Nokia, Microsoft and Huawei had long predominated, but now Jüngst and Wolters-Höhne were more visible in high-profile pharmaceuticals cases, e.g. for Actavis against Eli Lilly regarding Alimta in connection with the precedent issue of equivalent patent infringement. Unlike its main competitor Hogan Lovells, B&B positions itself less energetically on the industry/originator side, litigating for generics companies and industry-oriented NPEs. The fact that the team boasts a group of strong partners aged under 50 means it can watch the arrival of the UPC calmly – esp. as the delay in the launch caused by Brexit has put conflicts with the London team over who will play the lead role for central US clients on hold. The British practice, which is also strong, will first have to reorient itself.
Hogan Lovells underscored its position as one of Germany’s leading patent litigation practices with a strong presence in proceedings in a wide array of sectors. Von Falck’s team cemented its outstanding position in pharmaceuticals proceedings with cases like Eli Lilly regarding Alimta, where it won a precedent decision (together with König Szynka) involving equivalent patent infringement. On top of this, there were few high-profile mobile communications suits where Hogan Lovells was not involved. The team was active in central proceedings for regular clients HTC, ZTE, and now Apple. The firm worked for two defendants, ZTE and Vodafone, against NPE Intellectual Venture. From Munich, Steininger’s team is making visible inroads in the auto industry, with work for a consortium of Daimler, BMW and Audi concerning the acquisition of Nokia map service Here and a number of proceedings for suppliers. Because of this strength, the German team is holding its leading position within the European network. The European patents practice is in excellent shape with regard to the possible UPC launch, esp. as it stepped up cooperation with the small US patents practice in global proceedings.Further Analysis
This firm sets the benchmark in the German patents market and is among the leading patent litigation practices, not only because of the large number of partners visible in the market. Just how early on the German half of the firm (Reimann Osterrieth, ROKH) got set for the UPC system was seen in its merger with Hoyng Monegier to form one of Europe’s largest IP litigation outfits. This year, both parts pressed ahead with integration under the new umbrella brand, but are still avoiding full financial integration. By launching in Munich, the firm took the next logical step. Even before this, the lawyers were increasingly appearing before the Munich courts. With its European offices, the new firm is represented in the potentially important UPC cities like no other IP boutique. This is putting the pressure on German patent attorney firms – of which no small number work in cooperation with Hoyng ROKH Monegier. The German lawyers will be able to draw on the technical expertise of Hoyng Monegier in Amsterdam in the future, but in Germany they intend to continue partnering with selected patent attorneys with litigation experience. The basis for this forward-looking development is a vast presence in proceedings in various technical fields. Given this strong setup, the German team, which is dominated by visible litigators, took name partner Reimann’s move to of counsel status in its stride.Further Analysis
This leading German litigation firm is exceptionally influential in Düsseldorf, one of Europe’s main court venues, as it is among the firms conducting the most proceedings. This guarantees Krieger Mes a strong position across Europe. The firm conducted extensive litigation for regular clients like Classen, Benteler and the two industry-oriented NPEs France Brevets and MPEG-Pool. The firm is involved in extremely large mobile communications proceedings for these two clients, but rarely appears in the sector’s other battles for manufacturers. The firm could also raise its visibility in pharmaceuticals proceedings. It does, however, impress the market for its excellent ties among the German Mittelstand and patent attorneys. With this setup, Krieger Mes can view the UPC impasse relatively calmly. It could use this time to develop additional lawyers with outstanding reputations. After all, as a firm that rules out a European merger and maintains a partner-centric approach, it will only be able to compete for large, complex proceedings before the UPC with partners of Verhauwen’s and Bühling’s caliber as drawing cards.Further Analysis
The gold-rush atmosphere in the comparatively young German patents team of this US firm has past, although it is still among the leading German litigation practices. Following impressive startup years, consolidation at a high level has now set in. Now that the patent battles between the major mobile communications manufacturers, in which QE caused a stir on the side of Google, have come to an end, the team is now active for Google and Motorola in frequent NPE suits against Android applications on the defendant side or as intervener. QE is using the consolidation in mobile communications suits to advance in other technical fields or sectors, e.g. auto, printing and laminate technology. A series of associate departures is further indication of this consolidation.Further Analysis
ROP is among the leading German patent litigation practices and continued along its path following successful rejuvenation in recent years. The firm was active in two major NPE suits for LG. Young partners like Hilge used this to gain market profile. Rospatt and Musmann’s pharmaceuticals team put in its usual strong performance in many proceedings, incl. for Bayer and Biogen. ROP also saw an improvement in teamwork between its partners, like Hoyng ROKH Monegier has long enjoyed. Since the Brexit referendum, ROP can relax again with regard to the UPC, as it has been coping without a London office despite its strong pharmaceuticals specialty. Solidifying its good ties to British firms Bristows and Powell Gilbert would be a good move nevertheless, as German firms are vying for the attention of both.Further Analysis
One of the leading Düsseldorf patent litigation firms. Wildanger was visible with its numerous renowned partners in some of the year’s highest profile series of proceedings for SLC, in addition to a large number of smaller cases. For the NPE, the firm won a much-observed ruling concerning licensing under FRAND conditions on the side of patent attorneys from Bosch Jehle. The team not only litigates for NPEs, but is active above all for industrial companies like Henkel, S3 Mariner and BSH, within a broad technical spectrum. Wildanger underlined its dynamic staffing development by appointing a partner, but will have to grow further if it hopes to tackle more suits on the scale of the SLC work, e.g. in the UPC system. As a small outfit, however, the firm can brace itself for the UPC launch flexibly and cost-efficiently, which means the Brexit vote hardly affects it at all. Nevertheless, it will need more solid partnerships for European litigation work, as other German law firms also have strong ties to the litigation firms Wildanger currently cooperates with informally.Further Analysis
This firm, best known in patents for its strong visibility in litigation, is among the leading practices and held its position at the top of the market. Like last year, BP was seen in a multitude of proceedings, esp. mobile communications battles. Bardehle now has a reputation as a firm for NPE litigation; it represented Intellectual Ventures in some of the year’s largest proceedings. But this only tells half the story, as the litigation for BMW against NPE Synchronicity shows. Though Bardehle is often active for industry clients, it does not shy away from conducting selected NPE suits. The firm’s visibility in pharmaceuticals suits remains low and most likely will only improve with preeminent laterals. In this regard, Bardehle can take a more relaxed view of the UPC following the Brexit vote. It will not need an office in London for the time being, esp. as it is unclear what will become of the UPC’s pharmaceuticals division, which was going to be in London. On balance, with its mixed litigation approach, the international focus of its lawyers and offices in Milan and Paris, Bardehle is well on its way to becoming a top European IP firm, esp. as competition from British firms for its strong US client base is likely to disappear due to Brexit.
With its first major patent proceedings for Bristol-Myers-Squibb, this leading litigation practice for patents showed that it can land attractive clients in the pharmaceuticals sector on top of extensive litigation for regular client Novartis. In the mobile communications sector, the team represented its three major clients in large series of proceedings again, with several for Ericsson. For Hewlett-Packard, the German team coordinated a European series of proceedings involving printers. With three visible partners now, FBD has stepped up the strong cooperation between the Munich and Düsseldorf offices. This interoffice activity could serve as a model for how FBD could build a hard-hitting team with the Amsterdam office – which is in a somewhat weaker position – before the UPC. If the court does open with British involvement, FBD would also have a team with a similar position to Amsterdam in London. In Paris – the potential location of the UPC Central Court – FBD appeared bold, opting not to build a patents team here. It instead chose to strengthen ties between the dispute resolution practice and patents.Further Analysis
This leading litigation team in patents has stood out in pharmaceuticals patents from day one. This year saw TW make the breakthrough in mobile communications suits, e.g. for two auto manufacturers in the dispute against Synchronicity. The team boasts a technical breadth otherwise seen at Hogan Lovells and Bird & Bird. However, compared to its main competitors, TW lacks a regular involvement on the plaintiff side of high-profile proceedings. The team does, however, boast a large number of young, well-positioned litigators. Throughout Europe, TW has long played in the same league as Hogan Lovells and Bird & Bird, as the patents practice has well-placed teams at all relevant UPC locations. There is a certain gap in Italy and Scandinavia, but the German group boasts a strong Asian practice.Further Analysis
The considerable growth in the headcount at this litigation firm highly recommended in patents reflects its great visibility in mobile communications and pharmaceuticals proceedings. In mobile communications, AR positioned itself on the side of NPEs, with clients Sisvel and Max Sound, but is also active on the industry side for Nokia and a Scandinavian network equipment provider. The firm is also present in the high-profile pharmaceuticals proceedings for Forward Pharma (Tecfidera) and Sandoz (Pregabalin). AR is reviving the coffee capsule dispute, in which it celebrated a major win for ECC in 2013. AR thus need not fear the upcoming UPC system, esp. as the arrival of a counsel from Krieger Mes and two associates means it now has the clout to handle more large-scale proceedings. Its independent position in Düsseldorf and the excellent international expertise of its partners should also make AR attractive to similar European or US litigation firms as a cooperation or merger partner.Further Analysis
This highly recommended litigation team once best known for its work in pharmaceuticals proceedings is branching out across sectors, incl. strong visibility in auto industry disputes. Litigation for a German auto manufacturer in some of the first proceedings by an NPE before the German courts stood out. At the same time, team management was transferred seamlessly from Bopp to Sonntag. The young partner is driving the diversification of sector expertise forward. GL achieved the associate level growth urgently needed to handle several major proceedings at once. The firm remains an established player in the Düsseldorf patents market.Further Analysis
The international setup of this leading IP firm for patents offers little room for criticism. With its strong pharmaceuticals specialty, HE has long been visible with its London office. The firm bolstered Milan and Madrid with international lawyers, though these offices have yet to reach the level of London. With offices in Munich, Hamburg and Düsseldorf, HE is now visible before the important courts across Germany, though Munich dominates its reputation by far. Hamburg and Düsseldorf are making slow progress – possibly an understandable strategy given the UPC delay. From these two offices, HE has other European markets in its sights: there are Dutch patent attorneys working at the Düsseldorf office and from Hamburg HE is homing in on Scandinavia. However, work continues to center on Asian companies, though intensified litigation work for Ericsson involving mobile communications shows that the firm is active beyond these.
After spinning off from Preu Bohlig at the beginning of the year, this Düsseldorf IP boutique, which is highly recommended for patent litigation, was exceptionally visible in two major proceedings involving SEPs for mobile communications companies Ericsson and Vodafone. KA parted ways with Preu Bohlig because of different ideas about the firm’s future strategic direction and immediately brought in a counsel experienced in mobile communications suits from Bird & Bird to cope with the extremely high utilization rate. The firm also litigated for a multitude of industrial clients from a range of sectors. In terms of the possible UPC launch, the team could make an interesting partner for other European boutiques. The firm nurtures close connections with some European litigation firms with similar setups, though its German competitors are vying for their attention. Cooperation partners are few and far between for German boutiques, and too much hesitation could quickly become a disadvantage.Further Analysis
This small, traditional boutique comes highly recommended in patent litigation and is not making a mark so much with high-end litigation work as with a large quantity of proceedings for a loyal client base. Klaka also boasts a sturdy partnership, encompassing an array of technical fields. Giebe’s activity in two proceedings for ZTE showcases Klaka’s prowess in mobile communications litigation, although it was not particularly visible in this sector of late. The Chinese company, however, also hires other firms in Germany, e.g. Hogan Lovells. The challenge still remains for Klaka to raise its headcount – esp. in view of the possible UPC launch and its goal of conducting a greater number of major mobile communications proceedings.Further Analysis
A highly recommended firm which conducts patent litigation within a broad technical palette. The firm had an eventful year: following the spinoff of its Düsseldorf patents team in early 2016 as Kather Augenstein, the firm is now rebuilding its office in the location of Germany’s most important patent court. A lawyer from DLA Piper brought GE subsidiary PII Pipetronix as a new client. Berlin partner Donle is now more visible in Düsseldorf thanks to his litigation for Huawei. These steps are just the beginning of efforts in Düsseldorf, if PBP hopes to return to its former strength. This new start in the Rheinland also offers an opportunity for the firm to tackle the issue of cooperation between the individual offices, where there is room for improvement. This will be necessary for the firm to compete with large teams in mobile communications suits and, in the long-term, before the UPC. The firm had been banking on the new patent system. To conduct isolated nullity suits at the UPC Central Court in Paris, PBP got in position early on by placing a lawyer locally – this may have been a premature move, given the Brexit vote.Further Analysis
This leading firm in patents is a European heavyweight when it comes to pharmaceuticals and biotech patents. This applies to prosecution and litigation to an equal degree. This highly visible specialty overshadows the fact that Vossius’ technical expertise is broad on the whole. The firm now tackled its international setup, which is still weak compared to Hoffmann Eitle or Grünecker, but concrete plans to cooperate with other European firms have been thwarted by the Brexit referendum. Vossius had set its sights on one of the main potential UPC locations, Düsseldorf. The launch here, with a litigation team of its own patent attorneys and lawyers, as well as an experienced lateral, shows that Vossius is striving towards a consistent mixed approach in the European market, also to offer its strong US client base a full service. The firm is also tackling the Asian market, where other Munich firms have the edge.
This leading firm in patents has a strong filing practice and is also very active in litigation with its mixed teams, e.g. extensive proceedings for a software company concerning industrial control. Growth in Düsseldorf, esp. with litigators, could further improve the firm’s position in national litigation work. From this office, B&B targets Mittelstand companies in the Rhein-Ruhr region. Strategic expansion of the Berlin office also offers potential, given the relatively low amount of regional competition. Overall, the firm is well set for the UPC launch with its mixed teams in Munich and Paris.
This firm recommended for litigation in patents switched up a gear. CMS’ continuous development is rooted in frequent litigation for innovative German Mittelstand companies, like Leifheit or Erbe. The German practice generated higher end work by stepping up interoffice cooperation and coordination with the other CMS network firms in preparation for the upcoming UPC. One example is the global advice to Cooper Standard on patent issues. CMS also litigates for Acon Laboratories and Elmos Semiconductors on a cross-border basis. The auto sector is developing strongly, alongside a traditional life sciences specialty. However, compared to those at the top of the market, the German team lacks constant visibility in the major series of proceedings.Further Analysis
This leading patents team’s starting position for the new European patent system is good. Grünecker has a large prosecution practice with exceptionally broad technical know-how, established offices in Munich and Paris as well as a working mixed approach. Even if the UPC launch is delayed, this setup is the basis for a strong position at the top of the European market, esp. as the small litigation team is gaining momentum, as demonstrated by litigation for Yahoo and Twitter in the NPE dispute against TLI. The litigation team’s actual strength lies in traditional electronics and mechanics patents; it was esp. active in proceedings involving household appliances for Samsung, Grundig and Whirlpool. There is still room for the firm to raise its visibility in pharmaceuticals proceedings, as its pharmaceuticals prosecution practice is still too small compared to others in the market.
The recommended patent litigation team around the only partner Kellenter is active in mobile communications and pharmaceuticals proceedings and positioned on the side of NPEs with its two main clients IPCom and Sisvel. Otherwise, the team works for the industrial clients typical for Hengeler, incl. AstraZeneca in the pharmaceuticals sector. The team was also in action for Piaggio in a dispute over traditional engine technology, but compared to competitors in Düsseldorf, the expansion of activity stagnated. One reason for this was the lack of growth in the headcount, which limits opportunities in major proceedings. While it is still unclear whether and when the UPC will commence activity, this is only a minor disadvantage. But HM will have to keep the development of another partner in mind, esp. for international proceedings.Further Analysis
For pan-European patents matters, the leading patents practice of this US firm is appearing ever more frequently, with a well-positioned team of patent attorneys and a firmly established litigation team. JD plays a central role in pharmaceuticals disputes – opposition suits and infringement proceedings – involving new active agents. A prime example is work for Akebia involving erythropoietin and Celgene concerning a cancer drug. For Akebia, JD actively brought its US law expertise into play by pushing through a US inspection procedure. JD now defines its German patents team as the central anchor for technical protection rights in Europe. The firm is visible in numerous UPC markets, but only in London is it similarly positioned to Germany. The other European teams also draw on the broad technical expertise of the well-established German patent attorney practice. With regard to JD’s ambitions of closing the gap on the market-leading European practices of Bird & Bird or Hogan Lovells, the litigation team lacks visibility on the frontline in mobile communications suits, where it is only occasionally active. There is also room for development in terms of the litigators’ visibility in Düsseldorf.
This German patents group comes recommended for its litigation work and is now a permanent fixture within the fully integrated litigation team, which is highly visible across Europe. The firm boasts a strong position in London, Amsterdam and Milan, and is energetically building on the German practice. Like the European practice overall, the German team has a clear specialty in pharmaceuticals proceedings, which now stretches far beyond the well-known advice to Bayer. The team was also visible in several disputes in the cigarette industry, as well as work regarding defense technology. The team, which is still very small compared to others in the market, boasts broad sector expertise overall, but visibility in mobile communications suits could be stronger. The fact that the UPC launch is delayed, possibly without the participation of the UK, will affect S&S as it had sounded the charge on the European market leaders Bird & Bird and Hogan Lovells. To compete with these, at least on a national level, S&S will need to raise its associate headcount.Further Analysis
Feldges’ tenacity in building up the small, yet respected patents practice of this international firm is paying off, as young litigator Cepl is increasingly visible from Düsseldorf. The key factor, however, was the team’s activity in a major pharmaceuticals battle for Pfizer regarding Lyrica, at the same time as work for a new mobile communications client in a series of proceedings. The hard-hitting German team is valuable for the European patents group, which strives to play a central role in the European patent system, incl. the UPC system, with its excellently placed patents teams in London and Paris.Further Analysis
In patents, lone fighter Haag is respected for his litigation work. He is currently visible in various ongoing series of proceedings, e.g. for Unwired Planet, thus focusing on litigation for NPEs. To score success in the long term, the partner-centric Munich boutique needs a suitable growth strategy. This would also make Ampersand an interesting partner for other European firms with Haag’s experience in major proceedings, for instance when the UPC system comes into effect.Further Analysis
The respected patents team of this international firm is developing steadily, despite the uncertainty surrounding the UPC. This was shown by the slight expansion at associate level, but moreover by the appointment of Herr, the firm’s most visible litigator, to equity partner. He is often praised for his technical/legal dual qualification. The team is highly visible in Munich because of the many proceedings conducted for the predominantly Mittelstand client base. B&M also advises a list of international corporates from the chemicals and pharmaceuticals sector, incl. Becton Dickinson.Further Analysis
The respected IP practice of Bartenbach in Cologne remains the authority for employee invention law, on which it advises many major international names. CBH is increasingly seen in proceedings (esp. rei vindicatio actions for auto manufacturers) before Düsseldorf Patent Court (Patentgericht) or called on for second opinions. Despite stepping up litigation work, CBH is not yet as visible as the strong Düsseldorf boutiques.Further Analysis
This respected Düsseldorf patent litigation team is connected to the firm’s healthcare practice and chiefly advises pharmaceuticals clients, among them Pfizer. Following staff losses in recent years, Milbradt’s practice is now looking to reel in more technology-related work. Before now it has conducted isolated proceedings for Strix and auto corporate Hyundai.Further Analysis
Despite some of its members, incl. partners, going to competitors in the past two years, the respected litigation team around Gampp managed to regain its strength and emerge from the shadows. This was thanks to its growing visibility on the side of defendants in mobile communications suits against NPEs, e.g. for Box and Versicherungskammer Bayern. The team advises on a broad technical palette and, if it grows further, is ready to play a central role within DLA’s well-positioned European patents group.Further Analysis
The presence of this patents team, which is respected for litigation, is unbroken in proceedings. The team is called on by external patent attorneys. In addition to its traditional client base in the healthcare and food sectors, HU increasingly works for other industries, e.g. consumer goods manufacturers, and often reviews the patent situation for clients before they enter a market. However, the lawyers deliberately do not use the interface with the filing work of their small prosecution practice as a basis for litigation. This practice focuses primarily on prosecution work for regular clients. The team was boosted by an associate with litigation experience from Quinn Emanuel.Further Analysis
This small, yet hard-hitting team is a respected litigation practice in Düsseldorf. The firm typically litigates for a large number of Mittelstand companies as defendants. Horn is also active for regular clients and foreign companies actively asserting their protection rights, e.g. Becker Marine Systems or Echosens. The team often works for international clients in partnership with firms from the international WSL network. This offers a solid basis for when the UPC system launches.Further Analysis
Last year, this firm primarily driven by transactions welcomed a well-known litigator from DLA Piper in the shape of Schönbohm to expand the practice, which is respected for patent litigation. The firm has since added two more associates to the small team and is focusing on advice to pharmaceuticals companies in this startup phase. The partner already enjoyed a strong reputation in this sector before joining Linklaters. Other sectors, esp. mobile communications, currently only play a side role. The young German team thus reflects the strengths of the well-positioned patents teams in London and Paris, to a certain degree.Further Analysis
This Munich IP boutique is a leading name in patents and has enjoyed stability from day one, thanks to a base of very loyal clients, most of whom are advised on an all-round basis incl. patent filing and patent litigation. The practice is characterized by close cooperation between the patent attorneys and lawyers. This year saw a rise in the strong filing activity for regular clients like Fresenius and Faun. The team stepped up efforts to acquire Japanese and Chinese clients for the upcoming UPC. The main coup came from the very small litigation team with its work for regular client Telefónica/E-Plus as one of the main defendants against NPE Intellectual Ventures. This also highlighted, however, how the litigation team will only be able to manage another case of this magnitude and complexity with more lawyers.
This Munich team, respected for its patent litigation work, remains very visible in mobile communications suits, such as the class action for TLI against various mobile communications manufacturers, or for Synchronicity in one of the first NPE suits in Germany against various auto manufacturers. The action for MedTech involving medical technology showcases the team’s technical breadth. That said, Noerr is positioned as a firm for NPE suits more distinctively than competitors. This is not changed by the fact that the team also litigates for a Noerr-typical industrial client base. Though this setup is ideal for gaining a stronger profile in the market, it is also a high-risk dual strategy, but Noerr’s current success proves this is the right move, esp. as the cooperation with the patent attorneys at Bosch Jehle in NPE suits is unfolding its full economic scope. This puts Noerr in a strong position for the possible UPC launch: it is appealing to NPEs, and thus their law firms.Further Analysis
With great ambition, this British firm built a pan-European practice with the UPC launch in mind, incl. a German team respected for patents. The delay in the UPC caused by Brexit put a damper on this process. Nonetheless, the German patents practice is flourishing with its mixed approach. Olswang worked in NPE suits related to mobile communications patents for Facebook, ZTE and TCT among others. The firm thus emerged as an alternative to the practices established in NPE suits on the defendant side and as an intervener representative. The strong position enjoyed by the prosecution practice in IT and telecoms patents thanks to litigation for Microsoft and Qualcomm was already evident before this. When it comes to pharmaceuticals patents, the German team has yet to exhaust the potential offered by its preeminent London office.Further Analysis
Kröner’s respected patents team boasts in-depth expertise in the pharmaceuticals industry. It also defended many patents for regular clients like Beiersdorf (cosmetics) and Pure Fishing (fishing accessories). Spiegelhalder mainly conducts litigation related to mechanics patents; he coordinates international proceedings for regular Mittelstand client Hauck, currently in the US concerning child seats.Further Analysis
The selection of law firms in the above table reflects the research of the editorial staff at JUVE and is based on interviews with clients, lawyers and academics. It remains a subjective view and implies no disparagement of any firm not mentioned here but which is nevertheless active in this field. The firms are alphabetically listed within the groups.
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