This well-positioned patent litigation practice of the international law firm is particularly active in life science disputes. It has, however had a turbulent last two years. The new team around Christopher Stothers did not join Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer until 2018, after one of the outstanding figures in the London patent market, Justin Watts, had joined WilmerHale. For the new team, the challenge after a year is still to rebuild the Freshfields practice from the ground up. But it has already made rapid progress on instructions from the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, as the work for MSD against Eli Lilly shows. Freshfields also advises the life sciences industry away from dispute work on classical pharma issues and biosimilar drugs, as well as on trade secrets. The new team has not yet retained the market position of the former strong Freshfields practice regarding disputes in mobile communications. Here the most important European client is Apple, which followed Justin Watts to WilmerHale. The latter is a regular advisor to the iPhone manufacturer in the USA. Freshfields in London is likely to find it difficult to break into this close relationship. However, the firm is closely associated with Apple in the Netherlands and Germany, where WilmerHale has no patent teams. In general, the firm’s excellent client base and the very close cooperation between the patent teams in Amsterdam, Düsseldorf and London are an excellent basis for a rapid reconstruction of the London team, which grew by two associates after a short time.
Disputes regarding life science patents.
The London practice is a central part of a well-integrated European team with further strong pillars in Amsterdam and Düsseldorf. But compared to competitors like Hogan Lovells or Bird & Bird, the manpower at the London office looks slim. Freshfields foregoes proven patent experts in Paris, for example, where it intends only to cooperate with the general dispute resolution team in UPC cases. This strategy may be in line with the firm’s litigation focus as a whole, but it limits the patent practice as regards the UPC.
1 partner, 1 counsel, 5 associates
Christopher Stothers (2018 from Arnold & Porter)
Full-service in IP with a strong focus on patent disputes. Also soft IP, trade secrets advice and transactions.
Litigation: Merck Sharp & Dohme (defendant) against Eli Lilly on UK revocation actions over biologic drug for inflammatory diseases (public knowledge).