A wide-ranging client list and a strong bench of partners sees the excellently-positioned patent litigation team at Allen & Overy continue to challenge the London market leaders for visibility in both life sciences and telecommunications cases. Although the partner team is among the smaller of London’s important patent litigation practices, its individuals are already synonymous with some major client names in the European market, especially in the fields of biologics and originator pharmaceutical companies. For example, in life sciences highly-recommended partner Marjan Noor retains high volumes of work for key client Eli Lilly. She also won another European originator company as a new client over 2021 and continues to be very visible in work relating to regulatory issues, including cases concerning SPCs. This knowledge is invaluable to the London practice given ongoing regulatory changes following Brexit, while also being an asset to the European teams’ multiple cross-border disputes. To this end, its London, German and Dutch offices continue to litigate for key client Bayer, including a dispute against Ceva in various countries over a veterinary drug.
On the other hand, Neville Cordell and Mark Heaney continue to be leading figures in multiple cases for major telecommunications implementer Huawei. “The team is a significant player in the market,” says one competitor. Similarly, the firm’s Dutch and German teams have recently been visible for Samsung in disputes involving hardware and software. The London team is in a good position to capitalise on these connections to the Korean tech giant and is clearly attracting attention in the market. This is especially important given the increasing number of battles between implementers and patent holders currently litigating at the UK courts. A client says, “A great firm – I would work with them more often if it weren’t for conflict issues.” Indeed, the firm’s work for Huawei, which included acting as the respondent in 2020’s Supreme Court case against Unwired Planet, has given the partners a head-start in collecting experience in cases concerning standard essential patents and FRAND. A further new instruction involves fibreoptic cable technology, with a team led by Neville Cordell defending Sterlite Technologies against Prysmian over patent infringement.
With regard to emerging technologies, the team led by Mark Ridgway proved its flexibility earlier in the year when it defended MGI Tech against Illumina over DNA sequencing patents. Given ongoing EPO debates around the related CRISPR-Cas technology, such an instruction puts Allen & Overy in a good position for future litigation in the area, especially given the firm’s increasing presence at the EPO on the life sciences side.
However, although the firm has undoubtedly coped well with the loss of two major fee-earners in the three years since 2018, the London office has not yet grown at partner level. This is in contrast to the German office, where growth has been a key focus of the firm.
While the current team retains a stable client list, developments in areas such as AI and green tech point to the future of the market. A&O might need to expand the partner bench to cope with a more diverse set of cases in the years to come.
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, advising clients such as Bayer in cross-border disputes. With offices in many key European jurisdictions and excellent positions in the French and UK markets, it continues to rival Hogan Lovells and Bird & Bird as a European market leader. For example, the firm’s strategic expansion in Germany means the team here is developing a stronger presence in mobile communications, while the recent addition of a new partner brings a wealth of experience in pharmaceutical litigation – as well as new clients for the London practice.
In large pharmaceutical and biosimilar cases, the firm’s European practice is a market leader on the side of originator drug 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. But there are some gaps, however. In Amsterdam, the team’s presence remains understated. In Germany, despite a new addition, there remains room for growth at both partner and associate level. And, despite two offices in Italy including the key patent location of Milan, the patent practice there remains notable by its absence. If it fills this gap with high-profile lateral hires, Allen & Overy will have an excellent presence in all key UPC locations.
Neville Cordell, Marjan Noor (“really good on the regulatory side”, “would recommend her for pharma and regulatory,” both competitors), Mark Heaney, Mark Ridgway
Strong focus on patent litigation, especially pharma, biotech and telecommunications. Arbitration, transactions and cross-border licensing agreements.
Litigation: Airbus (defendant) against Kwikbolt over aircraft assembly fasteners; Airbus (claimant) against Kwikbolt over new fastener design; Bayer (claimant) against Ceva over veterinary drug for pigs; Huawei (defendant) against Conversant over seven SEPs (settled); Huawei (defendant) against IP Bridge over 4G technology; Huawei (defendant) against InterDigital over 3G/4G technology and FRAND; MGI (defendant) against Illumina over DNA sequencing patents; Sterlite (defendant) against Prysmian over fibre cable technology; frequent litigation for Eli Lilly. Advice: GSK and CureVac over mRNA vaccines.