The strongly positioned patent litigation team of this international firm has pulled off a generational change just in time for the UPC launch. The German team, as part of a solidly placed global litigation practice, focuses on high-stakes proceedings for a chiefly international client base, in order to continue playing a central role when UPC suits are dealt out in the future.
With the arrival of the new patent court imminent, the departure of former figurehead for pharma litigation and senior partner Joachim Feldges seemed to be a setback. His retirement upon reaching the age limit had been on the cards for some time, at the very latest since last year’s arrival of Stephan Neuhaus, a successor from Hogan Lovells with experience in life sciences litigation. On this score, the team carried out the generational change consistently.
Neuhaus quickly brought contacts from his old firm, including Eli Lilly and Hoffmann-La Roche, into the German Allen & Overy practice. Now it is up to Jan Ebersohl and Neuhaus, to lead the German team into a future that includes the UPC. Raising the headcount further in Germany – both at partner and associate level – is a key part of this and would underscore the firm’s high aims in terms of top-level series of pan-European proceedings. The loss of a senior associate in Munich, however, proved a setback. In Düsseldorf, on the other hand, the firm brought three new associates on board. The fact that the German team is blessed with young talent is also evidenced by the increasingly visible role of senior associate Denise Benz in proceedings over mobile communications patents.
The Munich-based high-tech team led by Ebersohl is gaining momentum in litigation over mobile communications and electronics patents. It was successful in a first series of litigation for high profile client Meta/Facebook against an NPE. The team is also litigating more and more for Samsung over mobile communications and electronics patents.
Litigation related to biotech and pharmaceuticals patents, as well as mobile communications.
Allen & Overy has a fully integrated European patent litigation team. The lawyers in France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK have a strength in representing notable pharma originators and can point to numerous achievements in cross-border disputes. The recently settled litigation for Bayer/Elanco over a veterinary drug is a prime example of this, as is the work spanning several national groups for Pfizer and Eli Lily. However, preeminent clients – Bayer and Eli Lilly, for instance – also trust in other internationally positioned patent litigation teams, such as Simmons & Simmons (Bayer) and Hogan Lovells (Eli Lilly).
Allen & Overy’s patent litigation team is now taking its first steps in litigating for clients before the EPO. This could provide valuable experience with potential for growth regarding the UPC launch. But, compared to competitors like Bird & Bird and Hogan Lovells, Allen & Overy lacks the internal expertise of patent attorneys. The French and German teams, at least, have a few dual-qualified lawyers on board.
In electronics and mobile communications patents, the European team has some heavy hitters among clients in the shape of Nokia, Huawei and Samsung. But they do rely on Allen & Overy’s national IP teams in some countries, rather than entrusting the firm with more than one or two pan-European proceedings. Nokia (French team) and Huawei (UK team) could potentially create conflicts for the European practice, as both clients have tended to litigate against each other. Because Huawei is now enforcing its own patents more in the context of 5G, the framework for more Allen & Overy involvement is changing. The Samsung contacts offer an excellent foundation for more joint activity with the teams in Paris and London.
The firm’s huge investment in an eleven-partner litigation team on the US west and east coasts should pay dividends for the European practice, especially in the high-tech and life sciences sectors. Competitors Hogan Lovells and Bird & Bird cannot currently rely on such a US base.
Allen & Overy has made significant progress in coordinating and developing its European practice. With offices in most of the key European jurisdictions and excellent positions in the French and UK markets, as well as a growing team in Germany, Allen & Overy’s patent litigation team is ready to play an important role at the UPC.
Denise Benz (“coming on leaps and bounds and skilfully sets the tone in the courtroom”, client), Jan Ebersohl (“a master of his craft”, competitor; “our first impression is excellent”, client), Stephan Neuhaus (“young lawyer with a strong business mindset, confident advice and excellent technical understanding”, client),
Joachim Feldges (own firm)
2 partners, 2 counsel, 8 associates (including 2 patent attorneys)
In patents, exclusively litigation with a strong specialty in biotech and pharmaceuticals, often including regulatory issues. Increasingly mobile communications, including SEP and FRAND issues, and electronics. Also arbitration, transactions and licensing.
Litigation: frequent litigation for Bayer, Eli Lilly, Hoffmann-La Roche and Pfizer concerning pharmaceuticals (public knowledge); MSD (opponent) in EPO opposition against against Bristol-Myers Squibb’s cancer drug Keytruda; MGI (defendant) against Illumina over DNA sequencing (public knowledge); Bayer/Elanco (claimant) against Ceva over veterinary drug for farm animals Baycox Iron (settled 2021); Meta/Facebook (defendant) against NPE over communication technology for Instagram and Facebook; Samsung (defendant) against Varta over batteries for wireless headphones; Samsung (defendant) against Solas OLED over touchscreen technology; Synaptics (co-defendant of Google) against Philips concerning mobile communications; Volvo Cars concerning automotive engineering; coffee producer (claimant) against competitor over coffee capsules.