In JUVE Patent's Netherlands patent ranking 2022, four patent litigators drew the market's attention with their impressive development. The 'Ones to Watch' are no longer youngsters, but do not yet count among the ranks of senior litigators. However, their increasing visibility and prowess in some of the country's major cases over the past year means all are well on their way to becoming the crème de la crème in their craft.
7 October 2022 by Amy Sandys
Microbiologist is Vereenigde Octrooibureaux’s secret weapon in pharma cases
It is not easy for Dutch patent attorneys to position themselves as litigators in the market, often playing more of a supporting role to litigators. Only a few succeed, and then mostly at partner level, in positioning themselves as trial lawyers. But Jetze Beeksma is an exception. Currently a senior associate, at the age of 35 Beeksma is already establishing an excellent reputation for his work in pharmaceutical litigation.
The microbiologist is a patent attorney at V.O, a firm which has previously produced multiple well-known patent attorneys with litigation experience. At partner level, Otto Oudshoorn and Martin Klok are the role models in the life sciences sector – Beeksma worked with the latter for Novartis. Now, however, he handles cases for Novartis under his own steam, in doing so nurturing a relationship with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer with whom V.O. always works for the pharmaceutical giant.
Furthermore, the Freshfields litigation team is playing a leading role for Moderna in coordinating lawsuits against Pfizer and BioNTech over mRNA patents in Europe. With the market considering further lawsuits in the Netherlands likely, other patent attorneys are already speculating that they might once again see V.O. in the mix. Beeksma’s name occasionally comes up in this context.
However, there remains more to Beeksma than pursuing litigation, with the patent attorney also putting his heart and soul into patent drafting. After studying microbiology, Beeksma completed a Master of Laws degree in 2012, later realising his interest in the technical side during an internship with a patent team at another law firm. The decisive factor behind this, instead of an academic career, also came down to his pragmatic and commercial predisposition. In 2017, this resulted in him qualifying as a European and Dutch patent attorney.
But he cannot quite leave the university world behind, channelling his interest in biotech start-ups by advising Pan Cancer T on its patent filing strategy. The spinoff of Erasmus University Rotterdam develops TCR T cell therapies against tumours.
Read JUVE Patent’s analysis of Vereenigde Octrooibureaux in the JUVE Patent Netherlands ranking 2022
Clients turn to de Leeuw for trade secrets expertise and involvement in life sciences cases
Brinkhof is a typical patent litigation boutique, with 17 litigators mostly conducting patent litigation. However Alexander de Leeuw, the firm’s expert for trade secrets advice, is a little out of the ordinary. He came in for some criticism for this when he advised the Dow Chemical Company in proceedings against Organik Kimya, which resulted in the Dutch Supreme Court handing down a landmark decision. Meanwhile, de Leeuw lectures on trade secrets at the University of Amsterdam.
But of course, in true Brinkhof style, the 31-year-old lawyer is also a flawless litigator, with a specialty in the life science sector. He works on cases ranging from Boehringer Ingelheim as claimant against Alfasan over the chronic kidney disease drug telmisartan, to Boston Scientific in preliminary injunction proceedings against Cook regarding compression clamps.
But his most exciting case is probably the battle for the pioneering CRISPR/Cas technology at the European Patent Office. Here, together with Koen Bijvank, he represents the Broad Institute against the oppositions of numerous competitors. Bijvank, who is probably the best-known Dutch patent attorney in the pharma and biotech field, became interested in litigation very early on. He later qualified as a lawyer at Brinkhof. At his side, Alexander de Leeuw not only gains intensive insights into the two areas of patent litigation, technology and law, but also valuable experience in EPO proceedings.
To understand the life sciences sector even more comprehensively, the senior associate is undertaking a postgraduate course on regulatory aspects. But de Leeuw makes a point of not being a one-trick pony, having also worked on mobile communications cases for Highpoint against KPN. He was active for Carl Zeiss as co-defendant of ASML against Nikon concerning semiconductor manufacturing technology, and for Alcon concerning eye surgery technology. Lasers and mechanics are as much fun for de Leeuw as pills and medical technology.
Read JUVE Patent’s analysis of Brinkhof in the JUVE Patent Netherlands ranking 2022
Freshfields’ second patent partner steps out from the shadows
Despite its small size, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s two-strong partnership in Amsterdam is more than a match for its competitors. While several comparable firms, such as Simmons & Simmons, boast teams over twice its size, Freshfields remains adamant that further growth is not on the horizon at partner level. But, clearly, the firm would not be as content with the office’s current set-up if Rutger Kleemans’ second-in-command, 43-year-old Jelle Drok, was not studiously climbing the ranks of the market’s leading litigators.
Traditionally, pharmaceutical-specialist partner Kleemans has been the office’s driving force. However, over the past 17 years, Drok has developed his patent litigation skills in the Freshfields patent team. His 2019 ascent to the firm’s partnership has come with impressive showings for clients such as Novartis in proceedings against both Mylan and Pharmathen, and demonstrable talent regarding technical patents in his work on inkjet cartridges for HP against 123inkt. Drok is now emerging alongside Kleemans as an enigmatic patent litigator in his own right.
Although Drok has classically carved his expertise in patents through work in the technical sector, his contemporaries consider his impressive work for Novartis as a key reason behind his rising visibility. As one competitor puts it, he is “an excellent patent litigator who does good work.” Furthermore, it is no secret that the firm – with Kleemans at the helm – is coordinating litigation for client Moderna in damages claims against BioNTech and Pfizer in Germany. The market is also speculating that the Netherlands could be next.
This involvement for Moderna puts Drok in an excellent position to continue building on his skills in pharmaceutical litigation, especially with the imminent start of the UPC. While his reputation is beginning to transcend the confines of Freshfields, it is only a matter of time before it transcends international borders as well.
Read JUVE Patent’s analysis of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in the JUVE Patent Netherlands ranking 2022
Software tech specialist is the natural candidate for Hogan Lovells’ next partner
When former frontman Klaas Bisshop left Hogan Lovells’ Amsterdam patent practice in April, the firm’s younger patent lawyers were introduced to new perspectives. Many Dutch patent litigators consider the Hogan Lovells team too lean, with patent partners in other countries touting the need for a third partner in the Dutch capital. Many view Dirk-Jan Ridderinkhof as a strong candidate.
While the 38-year-old senior associate has been with the international law firm for over twelve years, it is over the last two that he has emerged from the shadows of Ruud van der Velden and Bert Oosting. “He is definitely one to watch” says a competitor. Ridderinkhof’s increasing presence in the market is also because he now manages some of the firm’s instructions independently.
His new instructions sometimes involve technology which are fairly unique to the Netherlands, such as litigating for Floration as claimant in a dispute with Royal Flora over the transportation of flowers. The patent-in-suit protects a technology for preserving flowers for transport by ship, which until now was not possible – as a rule, flowers are mainly shipped by plane. However, generally the larger lawsuits handled by Ridderinkhof and his partners tend to be more international.
For example, many cases focus clearly on the global life sciences industry, such as the battle over pemetrexed for Eli Lilly. Ridderinkhof is currently fighting for Amgen against generic drug manufacturers for the parathyroid hormone-level reducer Mimpara. In addition, he is part of the Dutch team defending Meril Life Sciences and Angiocare against claims from Edwards Lifesciences over heart valves in an international dispute. Ridderinkhof’ is also using his background is in software technology in his work on mobile communication cases for Apple, HTC and, more recently, for the Chinese implementer Oppo. (Co-author: Mathieu Klos)
Read JUVE Patent’s analysis of Hogan Lovells in the JUVE Patent Netherlands ranking 2022
Read more about JUVE Patent’s research criteria for the Ones to Watch category.