The Dutch patent team continues to challenge the market leaders with its patent litigation expertise and integrated cross-border teams. Earlier in the year, the practice poached young litigator Tjibbe Douma as new partner, as well as two patent associates, from Dentons. The move will consolidate the firm’s presence in the Dutch market, with further growth on the horizon as Bird & Bird prepares to open a real office in Amsterdam. Most recently, the focus of the practice was in The Hague, with the firm having only a small representative office in Amsterdam. Now, following Douma’s arrival, the firm is looking to significantly expand its office in the Dutch capital. This comes at a crucial time, as the firm adds more telecommunication clients, such as Sisvel and DTS International, to its patent portfolio. Unusually for Dutch patent teams, Bird & Bird has almost as many patent associates as it does partners. Thus, the move to Amsterdam will place the firm in the central market hub, providing a good base from which to recruit more associates in order to strengthen the support around the firm’s partners. As one client says, “Bird and Bird are our first choice now – they have great experience”.
However, the practice remains trailing slightly behind its other international law firm competitors such as Simmons & Simmons, which continues to increase its visibility in pharmaceutical disputes, as well as making a name for itself in numerous SEP cases at the Dutch patent courts.
In Europe, the Bird & Bird patent litigation team is widely regarded for its presence in high-profile pharmaceutical cases, especially those with a cross-border element, and the Dutch outfit is no exception. Currently, the team continues to work for Ablynx against multiple parties over camelid antibodies, with parallel proceedings in the UK and Belgium. New partner Tjibbe Douma is also working for Ferring, representing the pharmaceutical client alongside previous firm De Brauw in two multi-jurisdictional proceedings over drug desmopressin, including in the US and Japan. “Hiring him was a smart move,” says one competitor.
The firm is also strengthening its visibility in litigation for standard essential patents, albeit more slowly than firms such as Simmons & Simmons. Over the past year, the Dutch team has been especially visible for long-standing client Nokia against ASSIA regarding DSL technology. Furthermore, following a change of advisors, Bird & Bird also led the way for the highly-litigious Sisvel in the now-settled litigation against various Chinese implementers. This complements work for the NPE conducted by the firm’s teams in the UK and Germany.
Interoffice cooperation, particularly between the Dutch, UK and German offices. Pharmaceutical cases, telecommunications litigation.
The Bird & Bird team in The Hague is well-positioned in Europe to continue the close interoffice cooperation for which the firm is known. Now the promise of a new office in Amsterdam opens additional opportunities for the firm in continental Europe. Bolstered by its strong offices in Germany – Düsseldorf, Hamburg and Munich – and in London and Paris, the practice continues to engage its respected and recommended partners in cross-border litigation: especially for high-profile lifescience litigation, but increasingly for SEP and telecommunications disputes. The offices in the UK, the Netherlands and Germany have recently impressed with their joint appearances for Edwards Lifesciences for heart valves and Sisvel for SEPs.
The rounded nature of Bird & Bird’s European practice is further bolstered through the German offices’ inclusion of patent attorneys alongside its traditional litigation practice. This still-recent development gives the firm an edge over some of its competitors in the Netherlands, where mixed teams of patent litigators and patent attorneys are not necessarily the norm. For example, competitor Freshfields does not yet have this capability. The firm’s Dutch offices are also well positioned, especially in The Hague, should the Netherlands gain the pharmaceutical division of an upcoming UPC. However, the importance of Bird & Bird’s London office cannot be understated. Despite Brexit, and no UK presence in the UPC, it continues to be a central point through which the firm’s European partners derive a notable amount of high-stakes patent work.
Tjibbe Douma (“highly competent for telecoms and FRAND”, competitor), Armand Killan (“great lawyer with a great team”, competitor)
5 partners, 6 associates
Tjibbe Douma (from Dentons)
Strong focus on patent disputes. Pan-European pharmaceutical litigation specialising in generics and mobile communications, pan-European cooperation generally.
Nokia (co-defendant of KPN) against ASSIA regarding SEP and implementation patents for DSL technology; Sisvel (claimant, co-counsel with de Brauw) against Oppo, OnePlus and BBK over SEP portfolio and cellular technology (settled in 2021); Sisvel (claimant co-counseling with de Brauw) against Xiaomi over SEP portfolio and cellular technology (settled in 2021); Sisvel (claimant) against Wiko over SEP portfolio and cellular technology; DTS International (claimant) against Samsung over data transfer and pay systems; Neo Materials Group (defendant) against Rhodia IP owner rights; Neo Materials Group in multi-jurisdictional patent dispute; Bicycle Therapeutics (defendant) against Pepscan BV over bicyclic peptides (settled); Ablynx (claimant) against Unilever, VHsquared and QVQ over camelid antibodies; Edwards Lifesciences (claimant) against Angiocare/Meril over heart valve technology; Ferring Pharmaceuticals (claimant, co-counseling with De Brauw) against Fein, Reprise and Serenity over desmopressin drug; Ferring Pharmaceuticals (claimant, co-counseling with De Brauw) against Serenity over nasal spray products (both with De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek); the Broad Institute against multiple parties over CRISPR-Cas9; Scoutcam over endosurgical tools. Advice: Nokia; Qualcomm over portfolio assessments; Nestle for EU litigation coordination and portfolio assessment; Edwards Lifesciences over portfolio assessments; Keygene over US IP arbitration; Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) over patent assessment and licensing; Broadcom; Thermo Fisher; Canon over portfolio assessments.
The Hague, Amsterdam