The well-positioned London patent team of the US firm remains stable in the UK market. The core of the practice – and certainly what governs the perception of Wilmer Hale – remains the litigation for Apple in a whole series of suits which has guaranteed a high profile. Over the past few years, the work for Apple has become synonymous with the reputation of the firm across Europe.
The high volume of the work for Apple consumes much of the resources of the relatively small team, but the integration with the US offices remains one of the most developed of any transatlantic practice.
This year, WilmerHale has undertaken some interesting work in the life sciences industry – and, like most of the clients from this industry, companies are advised in London and across the firm’s major offices. The arrival of a counsel who worked for Bristows and has already gained a good reputation in the market was a further boost to the London practice.
This does not, however, spread to the European offices. WilmerHale has been exceedingly reticient in expanding its patent practice to the continent, even if – as in Germany – the offices are long-established and well-regarded.
Big-ticket litigation for US clients, especially in the telecommunications sector.
The London practice is far more an integral part of the firm’s transatlantic practice than a bridgehead into Europe, and the lack of any real patent practice on the continent means that WilmerHale’s London team could be isolated after Brexit and the introduction of the UPC. However, competitors will find it difficult to break into the firm’s key US client relations regarding the UK. For example, WilmerHale’s most important client, Apple, has long been managed in peaceful coexistence with WilmerHale advising the iPhone giant in the UK and Hogan Lovells and Freshfields representing it on the continent. The last few months of 2020 did demonstrate, however, that even in the UK the relations to Apple were not exclusive.
Justin Watts (“very good on the defendant side for implementers”, competitor)
4 partners, 5 associates
Almost exclusively litigation work in the London office. Strategic advice regarding litigation in Europe. Strong client relationship to major US corporations in technology and life sciences.
Litigation: Apple (defendant) against Conversant and PanOptis in infringement and revocation cases over mobile communication SEPs and FRAND (public knowledge); frequent litigation for major international life sciences and healthcare companies.