The London litigation team at global firm Allen & Overy has once again to overcome the departure of a key partner, this time the early retirement of life sciences specialist Marc Döring, to remain a main challenger to the UK’s market-leading firms. But under the steer of recommended partners Marjan Noor and Neville Cordell, the London team has retained its reputation in the UK market as strong and capable in both life sciences and technology disputes. “They belong among the UK’s leading litigators”, says one competitor. “You don’t want them on the other side.”
In technology disputes, multiple cases for core client Huawei – including parallel cases at the Supreme Court against Unwired Planet and Conversant – indicates the team is on top of its game in FRAND and SEP litigation. The retaining of other important tech clients, and the addition of a major client win this year, means the firm is well-positioned to continue applying its expertise to increasing numbers of telecommunications cases. This is an important development, given the outcome of the Supreme Court decision.
In the life sciences area, the London patent team continues to demonstrate its strengths both in drug disputes, and on the regulatory side. Key client of the European practice, Eli Lilly, brings in much of the firm’s work around originator drugs in the UK. The company’s involvement in SPC litigation means the firm is primed for ongoing developments in the SPC case law field. The firm’s European offices, for example in Germany and the Netherlands, also litigated for Bayer in several proceedings, including a dispute against Ceva in 17 countries over a veterinary drug. Allen & Overy also enjoyed another stint at the UK Supreme Court on the pharmaceutical side for Regeneron in the high-profile litigation over transgenic mouse technology.
Its success here has secured an ongoing client relationship with the US biotechnology company. A continued presence in this field will be beneficial to Allen & Overy, as pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies look to increase their involvement in immunisation programmes.
However, the firm must be aware of not stretching itself too thin. The departure of two key partners in less than three years could signal the need for further internal partner promotions or a lateral hire – something which the firm has resisted for at least four years.
SEP and FRAND disputes for mobile communication companies. Representation of originator drugs manufacturers in pharmaceutical cases. Strong pan-European network.
Allen & Overy has made significant progress in coordinating and developing its European practice over the past few years. The firm also advises clients such as Bayer and Warner-Lambert in cross-border disputes. With offices in most of the key European jurisdictions and excellent positions in the French and UK markets, it has become a serious rival to Hogan Lovells and Bird & Bird as a European market leader. For example, over the past two years, the German team has had more success beyond its traditional focus on pharma cases and has developed a stronger presence in mobile communications. It also has well-positioned teams in the Dutch market.
In large pharmaceutical and biosimilar cases, the firm’s European practice is a market leader on the side of originator manufacturers. The London team handles many cases together with the teams in Amsterdam and Munich. In mobile communications cases, some of the firm’s teams are visible in their markets such as Paris and London. And the German team is now representing more and more international clients in electronic or mobile communications cases. As such, increasing connectivity in the car industry harbours potential for the whole practice.
But there are some gaps, however. In Amsterdam, the team’s presence remains understated. In Germany, there is still room for growth – at both partner and associate level.
Neville Cordell, Marjan Noor (“a class act in life sciences”, competitor), Mark Heaney, Mark Ridgway
5 partners, 9 associates
Marc Döring (retired)
In patents, strong focus on litigation, especially pharma, biotech and telecommunications. Also consumer goods and crop science. Arbitration, transactions and cross-border licensing agreements.
Litigation: Eli Lilly (claimant) against Genentech over SPC for Taltz; Regeneron (claimant) against Kymab over transgenic mouse technology; Bayer (claimant) against Ceva over medication for piglets; Huawei (defendant) against Conversant over FRAND and SEPs; Huawei (defendant) against InterDigital over SEP infringement and FRAND declaration; Airbus (claimant) against Kwikbolt over temporary blind fasteners in aeroplane wings; Zimmer Biomet (defendant) against Heraeus over trade secret litigation. Advice: Circassia Pharma over termination of agreement with AstraZeneca; Grünenthal over collaboration with Mesoblast; Sage Group over sale of Sage Pay Europe to Elavon; Sage Group over acquisition of Ocrex; GSK over investment and collaboration with Curevac.