In JUVE Patent's Germany patent ranking 2022, six patent litigators drew the market's attention with their impressive development. The 'Ones to Watch' are patent attorneys and patent litigators; they are no longer youngsters, but do not yet count among the ranks of senior litigators. And, although SEP and FRAND cases continue to dominate events in Germany's courts in 2022, three of the six Ones to Watch are known for their work in the life sciences sector.
4 November 2022 by Mathieu Klos
Allen & Overy lawyer builds up firm’s mobile communications practice, with notable work for Samsung
Looking at Denise Benz’s still-burgeoning career, the comparison with a proud housebuilder (in German “Häuslebauererin”) is not entirely far-fetched. Yet, the 33-year-old lawyer hails not from Swabia, the part of Germany where such self-styled “housebuilders” live, but from Franconia. Denise Benz joined Allen & Overy in Munich as a young associate from Quinn Emanuel in 2017, alongside partner Jan Ebersohl. At this point, she had less than two years of legal practice under her belt.
Denise Benz, describing the situation when she joined the firm in 2017, says, “We came to Allen & Overy with a task to build the firm’s tech patent litigation practice in Germany from scratch”. From the beginning, Benz and Ebersohl’s task was clear – to strengthen these pillars, alongside the firm’s already-strong life sciences practice. Allen & Overy already had notable mobile communications work in Paris, London and Amsterdam, with Germany the last piece of the puzzle for the European patent team. It also had an eye on the potential launch of the Unified Patent Court.
Over the past six years, Benz and Ebersohl seized their opportunities and built up a tech powerhouse. The firm has since promoted Benz to senior associate. She is considered the next potential partner candidate in the German patent team.
Most recently, the team defended Meta from an NPE attack against social media platforms Instagram and Facebook. But the team’s – and Denise Benz’s – central client is probably Samsung. This is where the market takes notice. She acted for Samsung against Varta over batteries for wireless headphones, and against Solas OLED over touchscreen technology. But the team’s work is also spreading into other technologies. Benz also works in proceedings involving coffee capsules for a well-known manufacturer; she would also like to be more involved for clients in medical technology.
According to JUVE Patent information, she is currently also involved for a tech client in a battle over so-called quantum dots. The nanoscopic material structures are used, among other things, for displays in televisions or mobile phones.
Benz proudly reports that she has acquired another client in Volvo Cars. The market also sees the senior associate through her commitment to ChIPs, the network for women in tech, law and policy. Benz co-chairs the German chapter. She is also active outside the legal profession, founding aid organisation Weltherz. It supports an orphanage and children’s centre in Tanzania, with the current project in which Benz is involved being the construction of a children’s home.
Whether or not she will build her own home in Munich remains to be seen, but development work in the legal field is definitely right up the lawyer’s street.
Read JUVE Patent’s analysis of Allen & Overy in the JUVE Patent Germany ranking 2022
At König Szynka Tilmann von Renesse, the patent attorney continues to shine in big pharmaceutical cases
During the last of her pharmacist exams, Claudia Hertzsch was already considering becoming a patent attorney. But she persisted, first working in her first profession as a pharmacist before training as a patent attorney in 2011. While her former training took place in Jena, the first stop in her patent career was Frankfurt IP firm, Fuchs Patentanwälte.
After completing her training and becoming a patent attorney, in 2014 Hertzsch moved to Düsseldorf and to her current law firm, König Szynka Tilmann von Renesse. She quickly came into contact with pharma suits alongside mentor, Gregor König. The firm is a leading name in Germany for actions involving pharma or biotech patents against generic manufacturers, which occur when the latter launch their products with a view to taking market share away from originators. To this day, the 43-year-old partner still works closely with König.
Thus, regular client Eli Lilly has instructed Hertzsch in various proceedings since the beginning of her career. The battle over cancer drug pemetrexed against various generic companies – including Hexal, Fresenius Kabi, Accord, Medac, Zentiva and Hikma as well as the IFA – has raged for years, only now entering the main proceedings in Germany. The dispute for Eli Lilly against Hexal and Teva over impotence drug Tadalafil also kept Hertzsch busy for several years.
Hertzsch works almost exclusively for original manufacturers. Grünenthal and Bayer are important clients of the firm while, for ViiV Healthcare, the firm litigated alongside external lawyers against Gilead over HIV drug Bictarvy. Given such top-level proceedings, it comes as little surprise that the firm and Hertzsch will be involved in one of the many disputes surrounding mRNA patents. However, it is not yet public for which side she and her firm are working.
As a pharmacist, Hertzsch is also familiar with the regulatory aspects of drugs. While working behind the pharmacy counter, she learned how the active ingredients are applied. One such case, an outlier to the firm’s client structure, is litigation for drugstore chain Müller against Stada over the pharmaceutical composition of sun creams for protection against infrared rays. In total, in 2021 nine opponents including Müller filed an opposition against the granting of Stada’s patent EP 22 33 127. Opposition to the patent is strong; Claudia Hertzsch and the König Szynka lawyers can expect a hefty amount of work at the oral hearing next year.
Read JUVE Patent’s analysis of König Szynka Tilmann von Renesse in the JUVE Patent Germany ranking 2022
Coordinating cross-border series of proceedings at Hoyng ROKH Monegier from scratch
Hoyng ROKH Monegier’s partnership has a powerful market presence spanning borders. Thus, while its young lawyers must work all the harder to get noticed, Carina Höfer has managed this feat. The firm appointed the 34-year-old as counsel at the beginning of 2022 for her impressive work, especially in cases involving mobile communications and electronics patents.
The early years of her career at Kather Augenstein, where she was part of the team representing Ericsson against Wiko, saw her first steps in mobile communications suits. After joining Hoyng ROKH Monegier in 2018, she continued to pursue this specialisation. Carina Höfer worked alongside Tobias Hessel for Huawei in the dispute against IP Bridge, and alongside Klaus Haft for Lenovo vs. Nokia. She also worked for Apple. One competitor praised the young lawyer for her work in legal briefs.
The Hoyng partners are also giving Höfer centre stage in some court proceedings, for example for regular client Sony against Virtual Paper Licensing. Here, she took on the non-technical elements of the pleading.
Carina Höfer is also increasingly in charge of the cross-border coordination of large suits, with pan-European disputes such as Hanwha Q-Cells against Longi, REC and Jinko giving her a great deal of experience. Such experience is a solid basis for future work at the UPC – for which she is also a member of a Hoyng ROKH Monegier working group.
Read JUVE Patent’s analysis of Hoyng ROKH Monegier in the JUVE Patent Germany ranking 2022
From Düsseldorf to Hamburg, she has Bird & Bird’s growth in mind
Following in the footsteps of renowned litigator Anna Wolters-Höhne is no small feat. After the Hamburg-based life sciences partner left the firm last year, it now falls to Annika Lückemann to grow Bird & Bird’s patent litigation team in Hamburg. For this purpose, the counsel recently moved from Düsseldorf to Hamburg. The latter city will host one of the Unified Patent Court local divisions.
The 36-year-old, who started her career at Bird & Bird in 2015, has an impressive track record in litigation. She is especially present in pharma disputes. Originally in Anna Wolters-Höhne’s team, Lückemann has been involved in high-stakes life sciences disputes. Here, she mainly worked with Düsseldorf partner Oliver Jüngst, as well as frequently with Christian Harmsen and Boris Kreye. She advised regular client Teva and its subsidiary Ratiopharm many times in proceedings concerning Copaxone, Cinacalcet, Fampridin, Sorafenib and most recently Fingolimod. A particular specialty has developed on the interface with regulatory issues, such as marketing approval or conflicts with the IFA.
At the firm, Annika Lückemann has also gained experience in high-profile SEP disputes, as well as in medical technology actions. She was part of the team, for example, that advised Nokia against Apple until the two parties settled in 2017. Lückemann was also involved in the dispute between Nvidia and Polaris, which was settled in 2019. She was also in action for Edwards Lifesciences against Meril over heart catheters.
A passion for patent law has run through Annika Lückemann’s career since a third-semester internship in Jüngst’s team. In the further course of her degree, her LL.M and her doctorate, Annika Lückemann specialised in IP law. She also dealt with patent law issues during her practical training at a public administration office, which she completed at the Federal Ministry of Justice. There she worked together Johannes Karcher, then-chair of the Legal Group of the Preparatory Committee for the establishment of the UPC. With the new court approaching, it is already clear that Annika Lückemann intends to make her own mark.
Read JUVE Patent’s analysis of Bird & Bird in the JUVE Patent Germany ranking 2022
A background in antitrust law and in pole position for FRAND proceedings for Arnold Ruess
Whether in the anti-suit proceedings for Nokia against Oppo, in connected cars disputes against Daimler or in InterDigital against Xiaomi: in the past six years, Tim Smentkowski has played a part in most of Arnold Ruess’ major mobile communication suits. Few associates can match the 35-year-old’s wealth of experience in SEP disputes. Praise from one client, who says, “He does particularly valuable work at crucial interfaces in the proceeding”, highlights his strong contribution to client work.
Smentkowski is a good example of how young lawyers in small IP boutiques are often more directly involved in client work, and take on responsibility more quickly, than in some large firms. He also has an ace up his sleeve for disputes related to FRAND matters, having brought antitrust law specialisation from his legal clerkship to Arnold Ruess in 2018. Early on, Smentkowski knew that he wanted to specialise in patent litigation. He says, “Watching the oral hearing at the CJEU in the dispute between Huawei and ZTE, I saw how exciting the interface between patent and antitrust law is.”
However, his work is not limited to proceedings over mobile communications or technology patents, frequently appearing in pharma disputes as well. As a lawyer at Arnold Ruess, one of his first cases was for Celltrion and Mundipharma against Hoffmann-La Roche concerning Herceptin. The lawsuit raised the question of the extent to which biosimilars infringe the patents of biologics. Further experience in the pharma sector followed, with Smentkowski acting in proceedings for Sanofi against Amgen over Praluent. In disputes over medical devices, he also acts for Alcon.
Extensive activity in such a wide range of sectors is raising his visibility in the market. Smentkowski is proof that lawyers do not necessarily have to advance to partner to take responsibility for client work.
Read JUVE Patent’s analysis of Arnold Ruess in the JUVE Patent Germany ranking 2022
Cohausz & Florack partner is latest star in a long line of well-known mobile communication litigators
“Our opponents are anything but fools,” says Matthias Waters. The quality on display in mobile communication patent disputes is one of the challenges that the 39-year-old Rhinelander finds fascinating about his work. But he also appreciates the detective side. As a patent attorney on the claimant side, he must closely examine the opponent’s products and prove that they infringe his client’s patent. This, he says, is a painstaking and intellectually delicate task. Replicating an opponent’s product is not easy. “You usually have to think very creatively,” says Waters.
For five years, Waters has been a partner at Cohausz & Florack in the electronics department. He specialises in mobile communications suits on the side of patent holders such as Sharp or Nokia. The law firm in Düsseldorf is his first and only employer to date. He joined the firm as a patent attorney candidate in 2009, later becoming an associate of Christoph Walke. Early in his career, he rose to prominence when the lead lawyer in a nullity suit at the Federal Court of Justice unexpectedly turned the floor over to Waters. He then had no choice but to address the court. In this instance, Google had brought an action against Nokia’s patent in the dispute between Nokia and HTC over Android features.
Waters is currently heavily involved in the lawsuits against Oppo for Nokia alongside Walke, with the dispute now one of the most wide-ranging in Europe. Wins at the Mannheim and Munich regional courts recently led Oppo to withdraw from the German market.
Although now strongly focused on communications technology, Waters’ technical background spans a wide range of fields. During his studies at the University RWTH Aachen, he focused on circuit technology, electronic materials and communications technology. Towards the end of his studies, he decided to become a patent attorney, with an internship with Christoph Walke cementing this idea. Besides SEPs, implementation patents also play a key role today.
For Nokia, Sharp and MiiCs, Matthias Waters was also involved in the connected cars battles against Ford, VW and Daimler.
Communication technology also dominates his prosecution activity, which is another important aspect of his work. As part of the Cohausz & Florack team, he accompanied Certgate from start-up to a system house for security technology, with Cohausz & Florack filing various patents at the EPO for the Düsseldorf-based provider of security technology for mobile devices. Members of the government use the encryption technology for mobile phones, for example. (Co-author: Konstanze Richter)
Read JUVE Patent’s analysis of Cohausz & Florack in the JUVE Patent Germany ranking 2022
Read more about JUVE Patent’s research criteria for the Ones to Watch category.