JUVE Patent

Gowling WLG – UK 2020

Rankings:

JUVE Comment

The rapidly expanding patent team of the full-service Anglo-Canadian firm Gowling WLG has been especially active in litigation concerning mobile technology and communication. The firm has successfully fought for TQ Delta in the latter’s ongoing dispute against Zyxel and is also working for research company Interdigital in its first UK litigation proceedings against Lenovo. With these two cases, the team has clearly positioned itself alongside SEP holders in FRAND disputes. It has also been active in patent licensing, focusing on portfolios in 5G and connectivity. Unusually for a firm that typically relies on internal promotions, Gowling made two lateral hires from Norton Rose this year, taking on the latter’s core patent team. While Huw Evans has a clear focus on pharmaceutical disputes (an area for which Gowling is less visible in the market), Jonathan Ball represents clients from a wide range of industries. This fits with the general aproach of the UK patent team, active in a wide range of technologies. The partner who has historically stood for a broad approach is Gordon Harris, although there is market speculation about the imminent retirement of the Gowling frontman. Regardless of how quickly this may happen, the patent team has established younger partners who have enough clout to inherit Harris’ legacy. The firm also suffered the tragic early death of highly-regarded partner David Barron. In contrast to most other international patent teams in London, the Gowling team has a strong presence in China, with 20 members of dedicated IP staff. Gowling recently hired a new partner to head the firm’s office in Guangzhou, which focuses mostly on IP enforcement. It also has patent filing and prosecution capacities.

Strengths

Disputes for SEP holders including FRAND issues. Dedicated AI practice. Strong focus on China.

European strategy

Its UK office remains its largest, but the firm seems to be keeping its options open about the UPC and the effects of Brexit. It plans on consolidating its European presence in the UK market in this eventuality. Europe-wide, Gowling is currently focusing on its offices in Paris and Munich, with an eye to increasing staff levels in the former should the UPC go ahead. However, the Munich patent team has had a turbulent past; the task is now to consolidate the small team. It is still a long way away from becoming a force in the German market. If Gowling really wants to join the group of top European patent teams, the firm will have to strengthen its German practice in particular. Further lateral hires seem to be the most effective, if challenging, path. Gowling currently has no presence in Eastern Europe or Scandinavia and instead relies on work referred from these areas through cooperation with other firms.

Recommended individuals

Gordon Harris (“excellent all-round”, competitor), Paul Inman (“a passionate and pragmatic approach to patent litigation”, competitor)

Team

8 partners, 13 associates, 1 of counsel

Partner moves

Jonathan Ball, Huw Evans (both from Norton Rose)

Specialties

Patent litigation in a wide range of technological fields. Current focus on SEP and FRAND disputes in the telecommunicaton sector. Portfolio work in 5G technologies and connectivity, including licensing work on values. Also transactional work.

Clients

Litigation: TQ Delta (claimant) against Zyxel concerning DSL technology including FRAND issues; Interdigital (claimant) against Lenovo over mobile communications including FRAND issues; Hexatronic (defendant) against Emtelle over fibre optic cables; GSK (claimant) against Vectura over inhalers (all public knowledge).

Location:

London