JUVE Patent

Rankings UK 2021

Gowling WLG – UK 2021

JUVE Comment

The well-positioned London litigation team of the Anglo-Canadian firm has historically stood for a broad approach to patent law, under the careful steer of international IP Team Leader Gordon Harris. However, it is particularly visible in the technology and mobile communications area. For example, from the firm’s eight-strong partnership, at least five partners have technology as their core focus. Its work for Interdigital is led by tech-specialist partner Alexandra Brodie, keeping the firm busy with six trials over standard essential patents and FRAND. Here, the firm is involving its antitrust partners in a piece of litigation delving into the complexities of mobile communications. With the UK’s recent Supreme Court FRAND decision, the increasing importance of SEP litigation in the UK is clear and Gowling is well-positioned to continue offering this expertise to its clients.

The firm is also undertaking parallel FRAND proceedings in India and the US in the dispute between Interdigital and Lenovo, highlighting the importance of the global team. The firm’s offices in Beijing and Guangzhou provide support to the UK team through IP enforcement, and patent filing and prosecution.

On the pharmaceutical side, the London team is less visible. However, the hire of two partners from neighbouring London firm Norton Rose Fulbright in 2019 aims to strengthen the firm’s expertise in this field. Partner Paul Inman also appeared at the Court of Appeal in a crucial case for client Neurim and its licensee Flynn over insomnia drugs.

Over the past few years, the firm has also worked hard to carve out a niche in its expertise in the crossover of IP and artificial intelligence on both on the regulatory and litigation side. Although it has not yet appeared on the side of AI in any major UK litigation cases, Gowling’s commitment to broadening the scope of its AI expertise is visible through its advisory work for several clients, for example pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca. Perhaps future litigation in the AI field will allow Gowling’s younger partners to demonstrate the true scope of their strengths.

Strengths

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

European strategy

Its UK practice remains its largest, with the past couple of years seeing the firm consolidate its presence in London. Europe-wide, Gowling is currently focusing on its offices in Paris and Munich. However, the patent teams in both offices remain small; it is still a long way away from becoming a force in the French and German markets. 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. Its work in Canada, the US and China continues to impress.

Recommended individuals

Gordon Harris (“a power to be reckoned with”, “highly-respected IP lawyer with a strong tech focus”, competitors), Paul Inman, Alexandra Brodie (“key part of a very strong team”, competitor)

Team

8 partners, 13 associates, 1 of counsel

Specialties

Patent litigation in a wide range of technological fields. Current focus on SEP and FRAND disputes. 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 (settled); Interdigital (claimant) against Lenovo and Motorola over mobile communications including FRAND; Hexatronic (defendant) against Emtelle over fibre optic cables (settled); GSK (claimant) against Vectura over inhalers (all public knowledge); Neurim and Flynn (claimants) against Mylan for infringement of insomnia drug. Advice: strategic AI advice; advice for AstraZeneca on regulatory AI.

Location

London