The well-positioned London patent litigation team at Pinsent Masons, which has traditionally acted for generic pharmaceutical companies, is embracing a broader client base across a range of sectors while maintaining strong growth throughout Europe. For example, the firm has recently won new clients on the innovator side, as well as working in developing areas such as medical technology and DNA sequencing. Growing strength in the latter field is demonstrated through the firm’s advisory work for a client at the EPO with regard to CRISPR/Cas patents, and via a new instruction for Advanced Cell Diagnostics which is in litigation against Molecular Instruments over a diagnostic tool. Here, it emulates a similar model to competitors such as Bird & Bird or Kirkland & Ellis – these firms equally focus on bridging the divide between pharmaceutical and tech litigation.
However, for Pinsent Masons’ London patent team, work for generic drug companies remains key and core client Teva is litigating heavily in multiple cases in the UK courts: for example, against Novartis over cancer drug fingolimod, and against Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer over an anticoagulant drug Eliquis. The latter case sees the London team more clearly adopt a cross-border strategy, with its teams in Dublin and Amsterdam collaborating over the blockbuster product, although this remains the exception rather than the rule for the firm. Young partner Christopher Sharp leads the bulk of the work for Teva; as such, the UK patent market is beginning to take notice. One competitor says, “He is very sensible, pleasant and doesn’t mess around.” Furthermore, through Teva, Sharp has secured a new client in its commercial partner Bioeq. Gareth Morgan’s move in 2021 from CMS to Pinsent Masons also gifted the firm new client Sandoz, which has been involved in several active disputes this past year. The firm’s visibility in the UK courts was also heightened through its work for Flynn over an insomnia drug. Elsewhere, the firm’s strong transactions practice is a potential route for the patent partners to win new work in areas such as biotechnology and medical devices.
There is no doubt that Pinsent Masons’ strong focus on staff growth and diversifying its client base is leading to an increase in prominence. However, while the life sciences and energy practices are attracting multiple new clients, especially in emerging sectors such as medical devices and renewables, the firm is yet to litigate in any major cases involving telecommunication clients. In London, too, it is less visible than its French colleagues in cases concerning mechanical patents, such as for automotive suppliers. Here, stronger interoffice connections would help diversify the London team’s practice even more, especially if its European teams commit to as strong growth as its Dutch office.
Disputes over pharmaceuticals, mainly for generics manufacturers although some innovator work.
The signs at Pinsent Masons are clearly pointing towards an expansion of the European practice. The UK team, which has recently raised its headcount significantly, is still the most visible of the firm’s European patent practices, although it is also focusing on expanding its Dutch team especially. However, the German practice has still not recovered from major partner losses two years ago; further expansion here and in France, which are core locations of the UPC, would help truly strengthen and integrate Pinsent Masons’ European team.
Pinsent Masons appears less frequently in large pan-European litigation for key clients with cross-border teams, compared to the market-leading teams like Hogan Lovells or Bird & Bird. A notable exception is the case for Teva against Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer over Eliquis, demonstrating the team is recognising the benefits of closer cooperation. However, the challenge remains to establish a quality of advice similar to London in the key jurisdictions. A step in the right direction was the entry into the Dutch patent market with partners András Kupecz and Judith Krens, both of whom are well-regarded lawyers with extensive experience in pharmaceutical disputes. Kupecz is also dual qualified as patent attorney.
Nicole Jadeja (“she is a thought leader in her field”, competitor), Mark Marfé (“high quality and very professional; savvy when it comes to tech. He is a fellow AI enthusiast”, competitor), Christopher Sharp (“we work with him very closely and are very happy”, client; “a very good operator when we act opposite him”, competitor), Clare Tunstall, Charlotte Weekes
Strong focus on patent litigation concerning biotechnology and medical devices, and pharmaceuticals on the generics and innovator sides. Technology, including licensing projects, FTO analysis and transactions. Increasingly strategic advice concerning energy technology.
Litigation: Teva (defendant) against Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer over anticoagulant drug Eliquis; Teva (defendant) against Janssen over SPC for schizophrenia drug Xeplion; Teva (claimant) against Novartis over fingolimod; Teva (claimant) against Novartis over iron-chelator medicine Exjade; Teva (claimant) against Astellas over overactive-bladder treatment mirabegon; Bioeq (claimant) against Novartis over pre-filled syringes; Sandoz against Astellas over overactive-bladder treatment mirabegon; Sandoz (claimant) against Johnson & Johnson over prostate-cancer treatment Zytiga; Sandoz (claimant) against Johnson & Johnson over Zytiga (settled in February 2022); Accord (claimant) against Astellas and Pfizer over prostate-cancer treatment Xtandi; Sandoz and Accord (claimant) against Bayer over anticoagulant medication Xarelto; Flynn (co-defendant with Neurim) against Viatris over insomnia drug Circadin; Advanced Cell Diagnostics against Molecular Instruments over HCR RNA-FISH technology. Advice: Bioeq on Novartis patents for pre-filled syringes; biotech client in EPO opposition over CRISPR technology patents; biotech client in EPO opposition over patents relating to pancreatin.