Thanks to a strong presence in high-stakes cases and a successful staffing policy, the litigation team at this international full-service firm has caught up with the market leaders. It frequently litigates for international corporations including Apple, Bayer, Novartis, Facebook and Broadcom in economically important patent cases. Freshfields does not represent all of these top-level regular clients exclusively. Nevertheless, the practice around the experienced Hufnagel and well-established Prinz zu Waldeck und Pyrmont is equally strongly positioned for pharma and biotech proceedings, as well as telecommunications. The firm also litigates for regular client Continental in the connected cars dispute. The auto supplier was one of Daimler’s most active co-litigants. Even after Daimler reached an agreement with Nokia, Continental is pressing ahead with clearing up the fundamental licensing issues for SEPs, for example as far as the EU Commission. The firm brings the cooperation between its patent team and antitrust lawyers into play here.
In high-profile litigation in such major proceedings and the work in defence groups for international disputes, experienced associates such as Nina Bayerl are increasingly receiving attention behind the two partners. Building up a third partner would indeed be vital to secure Freshfields’ new position as a market leader. After all, in terms of team size, Hogan Lovells, Bird & Bird and Hoyng ROKH Monegier are still significantly stronger. With far more visible partners they handle even more top-level cases than 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. In Amsterdam the well-staffed office stands tall alongside rivals like Hogan Lovells, Bird & Bird and Hoyng ROKH Monegier – for both size and visibility. In Germany, Freshfields this year closed the gap to the market leaders because of its renewed strong presence in high-profile cases in the pharma and mobile communications fields.
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. The Amsterdam-Düsseldorf axis in particular is strong. The London IP litigation offering was strengthened three years ago by the arrival of a team from Arnold & Porter. It continues to gain momentum as shown by work for clients such as Facebook and Continental. 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.
Nina Bayerl (“clever and strong communicator”, competitor), Frank-Erich Hufnagel (“brings surprising new ideas into defense teams”, “outstanding analyst”, competitors), Wolrad Prinz zu Waldeck und Pyrmont (“reliably gets to the nitty gritty of even complex technologies”, “strong team leader”, competitors)
2 partners, 12 associates
Patent litigation, licences, transactions. Close cooperation with teams in trademarks and unfair competition, antitrust, commercial litigation and liability.
Litigation: Novartis (claimant) against Zentiva Pharma and Aliud Pharma over breast cancer drug everolimus; Ajinomoto (claimant) against CJ Cheil over method for production of amino acids; Bayer in entitlement action for factor VIII pharmaceuticals for haemophilia; BMS/Ono Pharmaceuticals/Prof. Honjo (defendant) against Dana-Farber over cancer immunotherapy; Continental (co-defendant of Daimler) against Nokia, Sharp and Conversant over connected cars patents (settled in 2021); Lenovo (defendant) against Nokia over video signal coding (settled in 2021); Ericsson (co-defendant of Huawei) against Unwired Planet over SEPs (settled in 2020); Facebook (defendant) against Voxer on live broadcast feature; Facebook (defendant) against Blackberry over software patents (settled); Broadcom (claimant) against Nintendo over games console; regular litigation for Apple, Bayer, Novartis and Palantir (all public knowledge).