The highly visible patent practice at Dutch full-service firm De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek continues to challenge its competitors with an unusual setup but well-regarded practice. Led by renowned senior partner Gertjan Kuipers, whose reputation is key to the firm’s solid reputation in the Dutch and European markets, De Brauw’s visibility in the myriad telecommunications cases currently present at the Dutch courts is causing competitors to sit up and take notice. For example, the firm is involved on the defendant side in litigation over standard essential patents for both Sharp, and HEVC Advance Access. For a firm regarded as highly visible in its expertise with technical and mechanical patent cases, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek’s involvement in SEP suits is cementing its reputation a a firm whose patent expertise more than stands out among its impressive full-service practice. But the team also uses its independence to its advantage, for example in involving patent litigators with its M&A team for transactional work.
The firm is also visible for its pharmaceutical clients, presiding over the Supreme Court leg of one of the world’s most expansive patent battles in the litigation surrounding pemetrexed. On the side of Eli Lilly, the De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek team successfully fended off Fresenius in the Netherlands, eventually navigating the client to a settlement. But, despite the high-profile instruction, the firm has room to develop its client list for life science cases before Supreme Court level. For example, Hogan Lovells – which coordinated much of the pemetrexed litigation for Eli Lilly – boasts a variety of life sciences and biotechnology cases. De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek is not yet sufficiently internationally positioned to attract a high case load in this area.
De Brauw’s ever-impressive client list was also somewhat marred by the loss of key client Sisvel, which instructed Bird & Bird. The move of impressive up-and-coming patent litigation counsel Oscar Lamme, widely considered as the natural choice for the firm’s third patent partner, to Simmons & Simmons also caused a stir among the market. After also losing another rising star in Tjibbe Douma in 2019, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek must turn its attention to how the firm can successfully retain its strong patent talent to establish a third partner in the partnership, rather than talent leaving upon reaching senior associate or counsel level. However, the patent team has also won Sonos as a client in the Netherlands this year. Such an impressive instruction is a step towards rectifying the slight downturn experienced by the practice over the past twelve months.
Patent disputes in the mobile communication field, including arbitration. Technical and mechanical patent litigation.
Although De Brauw is a firmly Dutch offering, it maintains an international outlook both via its client approach and unique setup. However, the independence for which De Brauw is known means leading partner Gertjan Kuipers is the firm’s main name on the international stage. As a result, and because of a lack of other partners, the firm’s senior associates must work hard to ensure their names are out in the market to guide potential clients towards De Brauw’s patent capabilities. This is especially imperative with the looming UPC and a potential central division being located in Amsterdam or The Hague.
With De Brauw having no patent offering in any other European countries, forming close ties with other litigation firms is key. It has already done this in some instances, for example working with Italian firm BonelliErede in its work for Bolton Adhesives, and with Düsseldorf-based boutique Wildanger for the Sharp proceedings. Maintaining such ties will help the firm secure as good visibility in Europe as it enjoys in the Netherlands.
Gertjan Kuipers (“excellent; very good at the business”, “heads a very capable patent litigation team; a pleasure to work with on multi-jurisdictional cases”, both competitors)
2 partners, 16 associates
Patent disputes with a broad technical background, including arbitration and entitlement actions. Also trade secrets, strategic IP advice and transactions. Supreme Court litigation in pharmaceutical cases. Strong cooperation between the patent and M&A practices.
Sonos (defendant) against Google in cross-border dispute over smart speaker systems; Sisvel (claimant, co-counsel with Bird & Bird) against Xiaomi, Oppo, Wiko and BKK over SEP enforcement (mostly settled in 2021); KPN (defendant) against High Point over UMTS patents; Sharp (defendant) against Orope over standard essential telecommunications patents; HEVC and Access Advance (defendant) against Vestel over FRAND; Ferring (claimant, co-counsel with Bird & Bird) against Serenity in patent and entitlement claims over desmopressin; Eli Lilly (claimant) against Fresenius Kabi over pemetrexed before the Dutch Supreme Court (settled in 2021); Biogen (defendant) against Fresenius and Gedeon Richter over pharmaceutical patent infringement; Sandoz (defendant) against AstraZeneca over oncology drug fulvestrant before the Dutch Supreme Court; Amgen (defendant) against Accord over blockbuster drug cinacalcet before the Dutch Supreme Court; Bayer (defendant) against Leadd B.V. over oncology business contractual disputes; Zimmer Biomet (defendant) against Heraeus over trade secrets; Bolton Adhesives against Henkel over moisture absorbers (settled); Jacobs Douwe Egberts (claimant) against Belmoca Bvba regarding aluminium coffee capsules. Advice: Ferring over inventors’ rights and regulatory claims.