A strong and growing part of an integrated European practice, the London office of the international full-service firm has struggled to shake off the reputational damage resulting from the loss of a group of London partners two or three years ago. In addition, the team has had to deal with the retirement of its most visible client partner, Rowan Freeland. UPC guru Kevin Mooney remains for the most part dedicated to the development of the nascent court. But the reaction to all of these events has led to a reshaping of the practice, a renewed focus on the firm’s core strengths and the expansion in some European offices such that the visibility of the London practice is now far higher than before. In addition, with the arrival of Kevin Cordina in 2018 from Olswang, Simmons & Simmons has a well-integrated patent attorney team (still an anomaly in London at international firms) as well as a strong transactional practice. The result is that Simmons & Simmons is probably one of the most underrated firms in the London market, and while there is still a considerable way to go before it can be said to be challenging other broader international practices such as Hogan Lovells and Bird & Bird, its focus on future growth areas in the patent field (most unusally financial services) makes it an intriguing firm to watch over the coming years. The experience in life sciences led to a string of high-profile work for Eli Lilly and the track record in pharma reflects the strategy of the firm as a whole: providing full-service advice including regulatory and transactional work across Europe for a relatively limited number of industries. The same approach has reaped benefits in the firm’s work for banks and financial services. Of strong patent practices in London only Allen & Overy can be said to have the same banking regulatory expertise, and Simmons & Simmons’ particularly strong client base among asset-managers has allowed it to steal a march on A&O in the fintech field. The work for clients such as Mitsubishi Bank and Blackrock is a good example in this regard. Although the patent attorneys do some standard prosecution work, the most significant part of the practice is its role in the advisory and litigation practices as a whole. The fact that it can point to major clients such as Apple is a pointer toward the potential in Simmons & Simmons’ strategic approach. Unlike pharmaceuticals and medical devices, Simmons & Simmons is much weaker than its competitors in disputes over telecommunication patents. The patent attorneys’ work and client base could help to change that.
Life sciences litigation, especially pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Integrated into a wider full-service practice for clients from the same industry. One of the leading UPC practices in the UK.
After headline departures in London, as well as some reshaping of the European practice, Simmons & Simmons now has a focused continent-wide growth strategy with a focus on life sciences, electronics and financial services. Even now the firm is already prepared for cross-border disputes all over Europe, especially when it comes to pharma patents. The London-Amsterdam axis is particularly strong. It is well known for its work regarding mobile communications. Simmons & Simmons has also strengthened its position in Paris in recent years and the boosting of the Milan office, in particular with the arrival of a team from a local boutique, was another positive development. But there are some gaps in the continental practice. The loss of a partner in Munich in 2018 does mean that this important office is currently the Achilles’ heel of the European practice. On the other hand, its Düsseldorf team is seeing stable development and has a good reputation in the pharma sector.
Michael Burdon (“very experienced and level-headed litigator”, competitor), Andrew Hutchinson, Scott Parker, Kevin Cordina
8 partners, 13 associates, including 3 patent attorneys
Long history of litigation in life sciences, making up two thirds of litigation. The remaining third is mostly electronics. Exceptionally strong relationships to financial institutions, which has allowed a headstart on patent issues surrounding fintech products including artificial intelligence and blockchain applications. Accordingly, a broad transactional practice. One of few large London-based international firms with a patent attorney practice.
Litigation: Boston Scientific (claimant) on multi-jurisdictional dispute against Edwards Lifesciences on transcatheter aortic replacement technology; Eli Lilly (claimant) against Merck Sharp & Dohme on UK revocation actions as part of FTO strategy for its biologic drug pipeline; Samsung Bioepis (defendant) against AbbVie on biosimilar version of Humira; Gilead (defendant) against four genetics companies on revocation of SPC for Truvuda; ViiV (claimant) against Sandoz and other generic drugs companies over infringement and revocation of patent and SPC on anti-HIV drug Kivexa; Balanced Body on patent enforcement strategy in Europe regarding Pilates reformer machines; Bose against Freebit on declaration of non-infringement and revocation of a patent relating to in-ear headphones. Patent prosecution: for Acelity, Apple, Crawford Healthcare, TCL, Natura Cosmeticos, Tactual Labs, Cathay Pacific, Gilo Industries, Michel Forko, Serenity Pharmaceuticals; EPO opposition work for Acelity, KCI Licensing, Systagenix. Transactions: Mitsubishi Bank on SLA with Aberdeen Asset Management (artificial intelligence); BlackRock on patent aspects of acquisition of eFront; also Genmab, GlaxoSmithKline and Institute of Cancer Research.