The patent litigation team at this large international firm is a challenger to the market leaders and excellently positioned for pharma and mobile communications cases. The practice holds its outstanding position in the latter thanks to extensive litigation for regular client Continental as intervener for Daimler in the connected cars dispute with Nokia. The team of renowned senior partner Hufnagel and the young and established Prinz zu Waldeck und Pyrmont defended Facebook against an attack by Blackberry. They were also active for Lenovo in a wide-ranging mobile communications battle. In pharma proceedings, the firm frequently litigate for Bayer and Novartis, and was visible for Ajinomoto in a technically complex case involving the production organisms for amino acids and for BMS in a high-profile dispute involving cancer immunotherapy. With a very high leverage for the market, the team is laying the foundation for building up a third partner in the long term. Some of the up-and-coming associates already enjoy strong market profiles. But when compared to the market leaders, personnel developments have tended to be gradual and are in any case more limited within a deal-focussed full-service firm like Freshfields.
Pharmaceuticals and telecoms litigation, advice on the interface with antitrust.
The patent practice of the full-service firm is particularly strong on the European continent. The Dutch office is a mainstay of this well-integrated European team, with a further strong offering in Düsseldorf and Munich. The London team has undergone a recent reshuffle due to a partner departure and arrival. Although the London office looks small in terms of litigator numbers compared to competitors such as Allen & Overy and Hogan Lovells, in Amsterdam the well-staffed office stands tall alongside such rivals – for both size and visibility. In Germany, Freshfields is in close sight of the market leaders because of its high-profile clients in the pharma and mobile communications field. The firm’s well-regarded cross-border links are worth noting; Freshfields provides a masterclass on how to ensure all European offices remain part of a well-organised machine. In particular the Amsterdam-Düsseldorf axis is strong. On the other hand, Freshfields foregoes patent experts in Paris, preferring to cooperate with the general dispute resolution team instead. This strategy may be in line with the firm’s litigation focus as a whole, but it limits the patent practice as regards cross-border disputes and the UPC – should it ever emerge.
Frank-Erich Hufnagel (“excellent litigator”, competitor), Wolrad Prinz zu Waldeck und Pyrmont (“first-class team-leader”, competitor)
2 partners, 11 associates
Patent litigation, licences, transactions. Close cooperation with trademarks and unfair competition, antitrust, commercial litigation and liability.
Litigation: Ajinomoto (claimant) against CJ Cheil over method for production of amino acids; BMS/Ono Pharmaceuticals/Prof. Honjo (defendant) against Dana Farber over cancer immunotherapy; Broadcom (claimant) against Nintendo over games console; Continental (co-defendant of Daimler) against Nokia, Sharp and Conversant over connected cars patents; Ericsson (co-defendant of Huawei) against Unwired Planet over SEPs; Facebook (defendant) against Blackberry over software patents; Lenovo (defendant) against Nokia over video signal coding; regularly for Apple, Bayer and Novartis (all public knowledge).