The list of high-profile clients retained by Bristows indicates that, despite two high-profile partner retirements in as many years, its reputation as a market leader remains as strong as ever. In 2019, Alan Johnson left the practice, followed in 2020 by globally-renowned litigator Edward Nodder. Although the latter continues to do some consultancy work for the firm, the remaining partners have hit the ground running in their bid to reshape the practice to meet the demands of its extensive client list.
For example, the firm recently promoted a senior associate with a broad practice to partner. Although her primary focus is on life sciences, this breadth is a feature across the spectrum of Bristows’ partnership, and the firm’s younger partners are also regularly seen leading a variety of cases in court.
Clients were particularly effusive about the set-up of the patent practice. “A great team doing an exellent job”, said one. Key client and SEP holder Philips has kept the technology team busy this year, with four separate patent litigation actions in a variety of disputes including FRAND, damages and licensing. However, its FRAND expertise is not limited only to the Dutch conglomerate; Bristows recently appeared in the Supreme Court for ZTE in numerous disputes against NPE Conversant. Such instructions set the team up well for future cases regarding SEPs and FRAND. It has a raft of experience and, interestingly for many UK-based IP firms, does not draw a distinction in acting for implementers or patent holders. The patent practice is also able to draw on competition expertise within the firm in the form of leading partner Sophie Lawrance as well as working closely with its commercial IP teams.
On the life sciences side, although often seen on the side of originators such as Novartis, the firm has won a new client in the generics field. Bristows remains very visible in litigation concerning SPCs, especially for key client Teva. this is important as European regulation continues to shape, for example, SPCs and paediatric extension. Janssen Sciences has also retained the firm for SPC litigation and advice.
Although life sciences and telecommunications work make up the bulk of Bristows’ patent practice, the partners have also attracted work in other areas. Brian Cordery is one such example. Most notable is the firm’s representation for Heineken in the high-profile dispute regarding beer keg technology. For Bristows, it indicates the raft of talent on offer at what remains one of London’s largest patent litigation practices.
Litigation in mobile communications, SEP cases with FRAND issues including jurisdictional challenge. Pharma litigation, especially regarding antibodies and SPCs (including regulatory work)
As a London-based firm, Bristows might seem limited in its reach in Europe. However, its UK team often coordinates parallel proceedings across the continent. This has proven to be so effective that it has allowed the firm to win instructions away from the London courts. In some cases, such as in the now-settled dispute between Heineken and AB InBev, the firm ran proceedings in Germany and the Netherlands alongside with local advisors from Vossius & Partner and Brinkhof respectively. The firm is also providing litigation support to the Amsterdam office of Freshfields in the firm’s instruction for Novartis against Mylan in Europe. Indeed, Bristows is well-known for having strong relationships to many European firms, although the aforementioned Brinkhof and Vossius & Partner have a privileged status. Such links could be especially important since, if the UPC does start, it will be without the UK. In this case, Bristows would lack direct access to the new patent system. The London boutique may then more heavily rely on its partner firms to consolidate its presence on the continent.
Brian Cordery (“very practical and detail-oriented,” client; “a top performer in a market-leading litigation practice”, “a very safe pair of hands, with excellent strategic skills,” competitors), Myles Jelf (“extremely satisfied with his work,” client; “very knowledgeable, a very difficult opponent”, competitor), Liz Cohen (“if we have a conflict, Liz is our go-to,” client; “a very good lawyer with excellent strategic skills“, competitor), Sophie Lawrance (“great for FRAND,” client), Richard Pinckney (“extremely satisfied with his work”, client), Dominic Adair, Andrew Bowler (“really excellent,” client)
11 partners, 1 of counsel, 2 counsel, 30 associates
Edward Nodder (retired)
Boutique firm with a focus on life sciences, technology and brands. The patent team focuses on telecommunications, including FRAND and SEP cases, and pharmaceutical work. SPCs, biosimilar litigation and second medical use patents. Active for industry clients as well as NPEs. Transactions and regulatory work.
Litigation: Heineken (defendant) against AB InBev regarding beer keg technology (settled); KGJS (claimant) against competitor concerning a patented cement system; Philips (claimant) against Asus, HTC and TCL over mobile communications and FRAND; Philips (defendant) and HEVC Advance against Vestel regarding FRAND determination and licensing; Philips (defendant) against Bissell over floor cleaning patents; IPCom (claimant) against Vodafone, Lenovo, Xiaomi and HTC over mobile communications including FRAND issues; IPCom (claimant) against HTC over workaround sanction; ZTE (defendant) against Conversant over mobile communication including FRAND and jurisdictional issues; Janssen Sciences (defendant) vs. Teva over SPC validity for schizophrenia drug patent; Fresenius Kabi (defendant) against Samsung Bioepis and Biogen in coordination of European litigation; Chiesi (defendant) against Lupin Healthcare regarding revocation of second medical use patents; Teva and Regeneron (defendant) against Eli Lilly over osteoarthritis drug; Teva (claimant) against Bayer regarding sorafenib tosylate for cancer treatment; Teva in dispute on migraine drug patent and SPCs; Novartis regarding paediatric extension validity; Alcon and Novartis (defendants) against generics over second medical use for Travatan; Stannah Stairlifts (claimant) over stairlift rail patent; Hamilton Medical (defendant) over mechanical ventilators. Advice: Oxford University Innovation over commercial COVID-19 vaccine; Base Genomics over DNA sequence technology licensing deal; GSK over two patent licensing deals for cell line technology.