B&B is a leading patents practice and is involved in a huge number of new proceedings spanning a range of sectors, incl. a rising number of pharmaceuticals proceedings, e.g. for Nektar and Heumann. On top of this, the firm brought its strong position in mobile communications disputes into play for Nokia. By moving young partner Wolters-Höhne from Düsseldorf to Hamburg, the patents team bolstered its weakest office. This was a promising strategic move, to establish a hard-hitting patents team at one of the German UPC local divisions. The successful integration of a patent attorney team from Uexküll last year laid the groundwork. Long before this, B&B had integrated patent attorneys consistently and early on in Munich, thus making itself independent from referrals from external patent attorney firms. B&B is a pioneer with its patent attorneys focusing on litigation, as other leading litigation practices (e.g. Hogan Lovells) are only taking this step on the eve of the UPC launch. B&B is even going one step further and actively offering prosecution work, as the Hamburg patent attorneys brought some major prosecution instructions with them, e.g. for an aircraft manufacturer. But the strong litigation work and approach of providing clients with an all-round service by in-house lawyers and patent attorneys are more strategically important. No other firm has pursued this path at such a high level.
There seems to be no stopping this leading German patent litigation practice. HL was involved in virtually all of the central proceedings of the year. For Merck, Gundt’s team won an extremely rare compulsory license for an HIV drug; another team is active for Eli Lilly in the dispute over Alimta. The firm is also extremely visible in mobile communications suits and appears to be the first choice for Apple now: it was an HL team around von Falck and not the other regular Apple advisors who defended against the major attack by Nokia. HL is conducting its first proceedings for another Silicon Valley giant too. The new work for Google is probably its biggest achievement this year. Through close cooperation between the teams in Amsterdam and Düsseldorf, HL demonstrated its European clout in major proceedings for Nikon regarding chip production machines. Thanks to the high utilization rate, the team was able to appoint a partner internally: Dr. Alexander Klicznik also boasts technical know-how. The practice is aggressively hiring young patent attorneys too, to use their technical expertise in litigation and to train them up into litigators. But HL is not planning to develop its own prosecution department.Further Analysis
This leading patent litigation practice was again extremely active in mobile communications suits, primarily on the industry side against NPEs. Kanz’s pharmaceuticals team is seen more and more often in the market. The firm has followed a strict policy since the 2015 international merger: to avoid conflicts of interest, it only works for originators now. The German practice implemented this consistently by ending its relationships with generics manufacturers. The team advised Gilead regarding an HIV drug and remains active for the original drugs division of former purely generics manufacturer Teva. Although the strategy appears a success, the market quite rightly does not view Hoyng as a fully integrated firm yet, as the partners reject financial integration. Cooperation between the German partners and other international offices is still in the early stages, but is starting to bear fruit, as shown by litigation for Carl Zeiss in an international dispute with Nikon over chip production machines.Further Analysis
In patents, this Düsseldorf IP firm is among the leading litigation outfits, as it has one of the market’s best-known litigators in its ranks in the shape of Verhauwen and advises on an extremely high number of cases. This means the firm has an exceptional influence on Germany’s most important patent court at present and what is likely to be a central UPC local division in the future. Litigation work often stems from the German Mittelstand directly or via patent attorneys. Thanks to class actions for the two industry-oriented NPEs France Brevets and MPEG-Pool on the plaintiff side, the firm has a significant influence on German legal practice involving mobile communications, esp. related to FRAND issues. The firm is not active in mobile communications battles for manufacturers. Direct competitors Rospatt and Wildanger see more litigation regarding drugs and medical products as well.Further Analysis
In patents, this is a leading litigation firm, which is successfully continuing its consolidation process. The firm added semiconductor manufacturer Tessera, Daimler and electronics company Everlight to its client list. But the team’s greatest achievements were the suits for Qualcomm against Apple. QEUS had advised the chip manufacturer for some time, but had not litigated for it before now. This added further sectors and technical fields to QEUS’ traditionally strong presence in mobile communications suits, where it is frequently active for Motorola and Google. The next logical step is to branch into litigation related to pharmaceuticals patents – a field where many suits are currently underway and QEUS is not esp. visible. Diversification would also give QEUS the chance to establish other lawyers from the team around Grosch, an exceptionally strong and well-known partner. However, the team suffered a slight setback in late 2017 when the youngest of the three partners Dr. Jan Ebersohl moved to Allen & Overy. QEUS will now have to bolster the Munich office with additional expertise in mobile communications, but can still compensate rather well for the departure thanks to Grosch's clout.Further Analysis
Sustained by a young partnership, this Düsseldorf IP firm is among the leading German patent litigation practices. Unlike competitor Krieger Mes, ROP conducts proceedings within a very wide technical spectrum, though even ROP cannot compete with the high number of cases seen by Krieger Mes. But it does boast a pronounced pharmaceuticals specialty; Musmann was involved in high-profile proceedings such as those for Mundipharma regarding Targin and Biogen involving Tecfidera. ROP is one of few patents teams still active exclusively on the side of originators. In the electronics and mobile communications sector, the firm is always active on the side of manufacturers against NPEs, for example for Samsung and LG. In the major patent battles, it is notable how strong the teamwork among the ROP partners is compared to other boutiques. This will ensure a good starting position when the UPC commences its work.Further Analysis
This firm is among the leading litigation outfits in patents and is visible in a host of major proceedings with its many renowned partners. This year saw a rise in activity in pharmaceuticals proceedings, like Geschke’s work for Mylan. At the same time, more and more NPEs are hiring Wildanger for mobile communications proceedings, as it carved out a very good reputation when it litigated for SLC. But the team does not only work for NPEs: it litigates for industrial companies like Actega, BSH, Henkel and LG in a multitude of proceedings involving a wide technical spectrum.Further Analysis
This leading firm in patents is a real heavyweight for litigation, both by patent attorneys and lawyers. No other German firm has so consistently embodied the mixed litigation approach over many years. The major proceedings conducted for the NPE Intellectual Ventures were among the highest-profile proceedings before the German courts. Beyond such NPE suits, Bardehle primarily litigates for industrial clients from a wide range of sectors, among them Amazon and Adidas. Visibility in pharmaceuticals suits, however, is low and will only improve with first-rate laterals. Overall the question arises as to whether the team of patent litigation lawyers urgently needs more partners (currently two equity partners), given the volume of work.
In patents, this leading litigation practice continues to enjoy strong visibility in telecoms cases. FBD defended regular client Apple against the now-settled class action by Nokia, in cooperation with Hogan Lovells – now a well-rehearsed partnership. Both firms were also hired in a suit regarding machinery for manufacturing storage chips for Nikon. In pharmaceuticals proceedings, the team remains active at a high level for Novartis and is landing major new clients too. The trio of partners showed a united front; a series of associate departures in Düsseldorf were thus absorbed by close cooperation with Munich. FBD showed how it is a genuine powerhouse when it comes to recruiting young talent by filling the staffing gaps immediately – incl. with experienced associates from competitors like Hogan Lovells.Further Analysis
This leading patents team has diversified into a variety of sectors, starting from a strong position in pharmaceuticals proceedings. The practice gained ground in mobile communications proceedings and won Asus and Samsung as new clients. TW enjoyed success in litigation for ZTE against Sisvel involving FRAND licensing. The firm is also very visible in auto sector proceedings, e.g. conducting litigation for Metatron. In fall 2017, a Düsseldorf local partner moved to EIP but, thanks to TW’s strong team, this should not be too heavy a blow.Further Analysis
This litigation firm highly recommended in patents was very visible in the central proceedings before the German courts. While Arnold was involved in the disputes over razor blades for Wilkinson and coffee capsules for ECC, Schumacher litigated in high-profile pharmaceuticals proceedings for Hexal and Forward Pharma. Both are also present in the central mobile communications battles, e.g. for Sisvel in the proceedings against Haier involving the interpretation of the ECJ’s FRAND ruling before the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht) and the Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof). Overall, the team is slowly but surely catching up to the market-leading Düsseldorf boutiques thanks to its visibility and the quality of work, but esp. as it is growing at a faster pace than the competition: AR hired two associates and appointed a third partner in January 2017.Further Analysis
This highly recommended patent litigation practice around Sonntag boasts broad technical expertise. The team is esp. active in pharmaceuticals patents as well as the telecoms and consumer goods sectors, litigating for regular client Procter & Gamble (Gillette) in a major dispute over razors. GL also cemented its client connections in the mobile communications sector. But as of counsel Bopp only works in selected cases now and is less and less visible in the market, the team is very thin at partner level and would certainly offer room for another partner.Further Analysis
This mixed firm is among the leading names for patents and enjoys an exceptionally strong international position compared to other teams. In Germany, HE boasts one of the strongest prosecution teams there is as well as established litigation teams at the future UPC divisions Düsseldorf, Hamburg and Munich. The firm’s network of Japanese companies is almost legendary, and it has long operated a London office because of its strong pharma focus. HE bolstered its Milan and Madrid offices with foreign lawyers. But to fully bring this strength into play against the large law firms in the UPC system, HE will need to strengthen its litigation teams in Düsseldorf and London massively, as well as stepping up activity by lawyers in mobile communications suits: the lawyers are predominantly seen in pharmaceuticals proceedings; HE is only represented by its patent attorneys in mobile communications suits. But these proceedings are very high profile, e.g. work for Apple. As these companies only work with certain law firms, the strategy will only succeed if the firm brings in experienced laterals.
This highly recommended IP boutique is an established player among the Düsseldorf patent litigation specialists two years after launching. KA is often hired for mobile communications proceedings, e.g. by Ericsson and now HTC again. The spinoff brought the advantage of fewer internal conflicts, for instance in the healthcare sector, where it is now working for a growing number of pharmaceuticals companies alongside the medical product manufacturers among regular clients, like Boston Scientific. The boutique also provides much litigation and strategic advice to international industrial clients and German Mittelstand companies from a range of sectors.Further Analysis
This traditional boutique is small yet highly recommended for patent litigation and enjoys a strong market presence in a sizeable number of proceedings. Klaka covers a wide technical spectrum, although it saw a drop in pharmaceuticals proceedings. But instead the firm was involved in more mobile communications cases: in addition to regular client ZTE, the firm defended Wiko against various NPE suits. Two other regular clients kept the firm increasingly busy: Sram regarding bicycle components and 3M concerning various technologies. In terms of personnel, the year marked the end of an era as long-time senior partner Dr. Michael Nieder moved to of counsel status. The practice took this in its stride thanks to Giebes’ outstanding reputation.Further Analysis
A leading firm in patents which is strategically gearing itself up for more high-volume European litigation work. Vossius deepened its mixed approach by adding one experienced associate from Olswang and one from Simmons & Simmons to its team of lawyer litigators. The firm is also integrating its Düsseldorf lawyers more consistently. This is the right strategy to raise the young team’s visibility for the long term alongside the city’s many established practices. Vossius’ activity in various series of proceedings in the life sciences sector, e.g. for medical products manufacturers Resmed and Smith & Nephew, may also help. Next to this, extensive work for pharmaceuticals and biotech companies is a familiar picture, as Vossius is considered extremely strong in this sector, in both litigation and prosecution. The firm is gaining a footing in proceedings related to electronics and mobile communications patents, where it brings its good connections in Asia into play: it litigated for ZTE and a Chinese manufacturer of Wi-Fi routers. Numerous prosecution instructions are from first-rate clients like Korean electronics corporate LG, which is filing a growing number of suits in Europe.
B&B is among the leading firms for patents. The already very active filing practice got a boost in engineering with a patent attorney who brought connections to medical products company Lohmann & Rauscher and dairy company Müller. This new hire also widens the litigation practice, as he conducts infringement proceedings for regular clients. This is in line with firm strategy: B&B provides litigation with its mixed teams, often for German or internationally operating Mittelstand companies. Examples include an intensive dispute in the currently litigious packaging industry for Sprick and litigation coordination in the US for 3S Smart Software Solutions regarding control software.
In patents, CMS comes recommended for litigation and continued to make strides. The firm is increasingly litigating in proceedings with a cross-border dimension thanks to better integration with other patents teams from the CMS network, e.g. in a major dispute for Leifheit. The firm is thus taking the right path in terms of the UPC launch. The German practice continues to center on numerous proceedings for innovative German Mittelstand companies and companies from the pharmacy and medical products sector.Further Analysis
The major strength of this leading patents team is its exceptionally large prosecution practice with broad technical know-how. The practice filed an immense number of patents for its very international client base and can thus only continue to grow within existing client connections. Grünecker is therefore concentrating on developing litigation activity, and is making headway. Following litigation for Yahoo and Twitter, the patent attorneys positioned themselves on the side of Nokia in a high-profile mobile communications dispute. But the litigation team’s actual strength lies in classic electronics and mechanics patents. Grünecker has long operated with mixed teams, e.g. on the side of Beko regarding white goods. Work for Broadcom in a dispute with Sony over chips for games consoles highlights how well integrated the two groups are. Grünecker could tap further potential if it branches further into the pharmaceuticals sector, both in litigation and filing. This is a sector, however, where it faces tough competition in Hoffmann Eitle and Vossius. Experienced laterals are likely to be the only solution.
This recommended patent litigation team is very active in mobile communications proceedings for NPEs as Kellenter boasts strong connections to Munich lawyer Bernhard Frohwitter, the man behind the firm Frohwitter, but also behind IPCom and Fipa. The team has also worked for Sisvel for years. But HM can do more than NPE suits: with litigation for Saint-Gobain, General Electric and Piaggio it stepped up work for Hengeler-typical industrial clients within a broad technical spectrum. The firm has been accomplished in pharmaceuticals proceedings for years too, e.g. litigating for AstraZeneca. In terms of personnel development, the team still faces the old problem: when it comes to complex proceedings before the UPC it is far too small with just a single partner. But the current good development in work would allow the firm to develop a second patents partner.Further Analysis
Thanks to a very well-positioned team of patent attorneys, this US firm boasts one of Germany’s leading patents practices. Apart from Bird & Bird, JD is the only large law firm in Germany to file patents on a large scale. The technical spectrum is vast, but a specialty lies in biotech and pharmaceuticals. The small litigation team is thus also very active in pharmaceuticals proceedings. The consistent mixed approach and intensive cooperation with London and the US offices show the clout JD is able to deploy at the UPC. JD often litigates for clients like Akebia or Celgene in several countries at once or coordinates international litigation. The German team also has a busy litigation practice for mechanics and engineering patents, but is rarely seen in mobile communications suits. This is where the main difference to the market leaders lies.
MB is a leading name in patents and is making inroads into the group of firms with visible mixed litigation teams, like those seen for some time at Bardehle, Grünecker or Vossius. MB bolstered Wuttke’s team of lawyers with a Bird & Bird associate experienced in patents. Patent attorneys and lawyers are working increasingly closely in litigation, e.g. for Deutsche Telekom and Facebook. But the basis of litigation work is always the well-positioned prosecution practice with its multitude of German industrial clients as well as international contacts, esp. in Asia.
This firm comes recommended in patents for its litigation work and is seen in a large number of proceedings covering a broad technical spectrum for Mittelstand clients. Proceedings in the auto industry and Donle’s extensive work for Huawei in various mobile communications battles stood out. But it was not litigation work, but staff turbulence that dominated the market’s perception of late: following the spinoff of the Düsseldorf patents team as Kather Augenstein in early 2016, the firm re-established a working office in the key patents city around Kau and Donle. But in summer 2017, PBP had to cope with the loss of its best-known patent litigator, Dr. Stephan Gruber, in Munich and the Hamburg team, which focused on soft IP (to CBH). The firm seamlessly revived the north German office with Hoppe, who is experienced in patents and came from Harte-Bavendamm. As a result, the firm lost a great deal of patent expertise, but is now much younger, and the partners are pushing a new level of interoffice cooperation. This was already evident in litigation for Mekra Lang. Major proceedings for Huawei are also forcing better teamwork. This change is necessary if the firm is to remain competitive in mobile communications suits and, in the long term, before the UPC.Further Analysis
This German patents group mainly comes recommended for its litigation work related to pharmaceuticals patents, and litigates for traditional drugs manufacturers like Bayer and Boehringer as well as Samsung Bioepis, which is entering the market with biosimilars. The integration of the German team with other European offices is impressive. Mobile communications suits, the equally strong pillar of the other European S&S practices, are traditionally underdeveloped in the German team. But with IP/IT lawyer Michael Knospe, who came from Norton Rose to strengthen the patents team on the interface with IT and antitrust, the team now has close ties to HTC, one of the Amsterdam team’s key clients. The German team is gaining a foothold among strong German Mittelstand companies in the technological sectors, e.g. work for Guenther Bionics involving prosthesis parts. This is the right strategy to ensure equal visibility before the national courts and the UPC.Further Analysis
Feldges’ respected German patents practice is still one of the authoritative German teams for pharmaceuticals originators. With litigation for Pfizer regarding Lyrica and Pregabalin, the team conducted two central battles against generics companies. But in personnel terms A&O made no headway – in contrast to the rising European practice. It lost well-regarded Düsseldorf counsel Dr. Philipp Cepl and an associate to DLA Piper and thus now has to rebuild its mobile communications expertise. A few months later, A&O welcomed Dr. Jan Ebersohl, an experienced partner from Quinn Emanuel in Munich. He will take the team’s expertise in mobile communications suits to a whole new level, although it is currently unclear whether Ebersohl will bring his own clients with him. His arrival adds considerable breadth to the German team and lends weight to the European practice.Further Analysis
This boutique is respected for patent litigation and found its niche as a small, flexible litigation outfit. The firm represents NPEs like Munitech and Unwired Planet as well as innovative Mittelstand companies such as Dutch medical product manufacturer VSY Biotechnology in judicial disputes. The firm landed a series of manufacturing companies from various sectors as new clients, incl. foreign companies, such as Keter Plastics, Wonderland Nurserygoods and IDnow. Lone fighter Haag is now going the next step and brought in an experienced associate for support. Growth at partner level could boost the firm’s market position.Further Analysis
This international firm’s respected patents team has made Munich its center for patents. Here, Herr is dual-qualified as a well-regarded litigation specialist and patent attorney. The team is thus very visible in opposition/nullity suits and infringement proceedings. Though it enjoys a loyal base of regular clients and is acquiring more and more clients from the international network, the firm is not growing, unlike many competitors. Another partner could improve Baker’s starting position at the UPC and help it to tap the potential lying dormant in the network.Further Analysis
Bartenbach and Kunzmann’s team is respected in patents and considered the number one for employee law matters. CBH had long been restricted to litigating in patent suits related to its core competence, partly because of its location in Cologne. By welcoming renowned Munich litigator Gruber and another partner from Preu Bohlig in July 2017, CBH entered a new dimension and positioned itself as an expert for patent infringement suits. The move is still very recent, but could make sense as the invention lawyers have worked with Gruber in the past for clients like VW and Siemens.Further Analysis
The respected patent litigation team around Milbradt in Düsseldorf provides advice and litigation with renowned sector expertise to numerous regular clients from the life sciences sector, among them Pfizer and B. Braun Medical, and in doing so brings its traditional links to the preeminent pharmaceuticals and healthcare practice into play. But the second pillar in technical patents, also supported by the overall firm’s client connections, has yet to fulfil its potential, possibly because an associate experienced in this field went to Mayer Brown. Stronger growth thus appears necessary. The practice saw much transactional work, e.g. for Schaeffler and Kingspan.Further Analysis
Gampp’s respected patent litigation team is an established player in Munich, mainly for mobile communications litigation. This is one of the reasons why it is increasingly benefiting from the good client connections of the strong US practice, for instance in advice to a US software manufacturer and Japanese auto manufacturer on potential infringement suits. But by no means is the team dependent on the US practice: it nurtures its own respectable connections, e.g. Robert Bosch. The team made huge strides in terms of growth in summer 2017. Renowned A&O counsel Cepl and an associate boosted the Cologne team, so it can also serve the Düsseldorf market now. Like Gampp, he boasts experience in mobile communications suits, but could also lend DLA more visibility in pharmaceuticals, a field that has not been very pronounced before now.Further Analysis
The respected patents team of this IP firm has an established place in north Germany and Düsseldorf’s patent courts for patent litigation. Activities are based on long-standing connections to clients from the healthcare and food sectors. But HU is hired ever more often by companies from other sectors, like the booming packaging industry. One example is the work for Panther Packaging. The lawyers are also called on by external patent attorneys for litigation. HU operates a small filing practice for regular clients.Further Analysis
The respected Düsseldorf litigation team of this full-service firm is visible in a series of proceedings involving highly specialized technologies for its Mittelstand clients – e.g. regarding biomass drying technology for EnerDry or modern surfaces for sporting facilities for Sisgrass. Major pharmaceuticals or mobile communications proceedings, on the other hand, are not a specialty of Horn’s small, yet hard-hitting team. To make itself more attractive for such proceedings, the team will need to grow significantly, which would raise its market visibility markedly.Further Analysis
This chiefly transaction-focused firm pressed ahead with growing its respected patent litigation practice, as it is looking to conduct more high-end proceedings across Europe with an eye on the UPC. Efforts in Germany are making headway. In its third year at Linklaters, Schönbohm’s team is gaining a foothold in pharmaceuticals proceedings, partly because it is working for regular clients from London and Germany on a more regular basis, among them a British pharmaceuticals manufacturer. Pharmaceuticals proceedings are the German practice’s strength, but it also widened activity in electronics patents, e.g. for a Korean LED manufacturer. The small team is not visible, however, in mobile communications suits, although manufacturers and network operators are among Linklaters’ typical clientele.Further Analysis
For many years, this Munich IP boutique and leading name in patents has followed a successful mixed approach. The patent attorneys operate a small but strong prosecution practice, which files many patents at the German Patent and Trademark Office, incl. a large number of priority patents for its primarily German clients. Because regular clients are securing more and more international markets, the proportion of patents filed at the EPO is also on the rise. Besides activity for innovative Mittelstand companies, work for some international corporates is very visible, particularly the work of the very small, yet highly experienced litigation team. The lawyers frequently make an appearance in major proceedings, for instance when regular client Telefónica/E-Plus is taken to court in mobile communications suits.
This US firm respected in patents has long been active before the German courts from Munich. But the firm only managed to raise its visibility significantly by bringing on board Holzapfel as a partner from Loschelder. He was at Gleiss Lutz until 2014. Both clients and competitors lavish praise on his work. Holzapfel is mainly known for pharmaceuticals suits, but also litigates for auto suppliers at McDermott. A number of loyal clients already followed him from Gleiss to Loschelder, and now to McDermott – among them a German auto supplier and a chemicals manufacturer.Further Analysis
This Munich team is respected for its patent litigation and enjoying growing market visibility. This is largely thanks to its busy activity for traditional US NPEs as well as for industry-oriented NPEs like Thomson. The practice thus has a very clear focus on mobile communications suits, but Nack and team also litigate for the industrial clients typical of Noerr, esp. in the pharma and classic engineering sectors.Further Analysis
The respected patents team at this small IP and pharma boutique has a solid place before Hamburg’s courts, where it predominantly litigates for regular clients. Kröner uses his in-depth pharmaceuticals sector expertise to advise Beiersdorf on cosmetics patents as well. Spiegelhalder litigates in cases related to mechanics patents, often for baby/doll carriage manufacturer Hauck, and coordinates international proceedings.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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