JUVE Patent rankings 2023

Ones to Watch in UK patent litigation 2023

In JUVE Patent's recent UK patent ranking, six patent lawyers and one barrister drew the market's attention with their impressive development. Increasing visibility and success in some of the country's major cases over the past year mean all are well on their way to becoming leaders in their craft. Now JUVE Patent's category recognises these impressive patent litigators as part of the UK rankings 2023.

16 January 2023 by Amy Sandys

Ones to Watch, 2023 JUVE Patent's Ones to Watch in UK patent litigation for 2023 ©JUVE/Andreas Anhalt

JUVE Patent’s Ones to Watch in UK patent litigation 2023:

 

Rafi Allos: Interest in regulatory, a strength in life sciences

Allen & Overy’s newest partner demonstrates success in patent is possible without a technical background

Rafi Allos

Rafi Allos is providing a fresh perspective to a team which has, in the past four years, lost two senior partners to Kirkland & Ellis and early retirement. While the partnership remains strong and well-recognised in the market, recently acting in disputes including for Huawei against Unwired Planet at the Supreme Court, the departures created a vacuum which may impact potential future instructions. Then came the newly minted partner, 35-year-old Allos, who the firm promoted in May 2022 – an impressive trajectory, given he only joined as an associate in 2016. Prior to this, Allos had cut his teeth at Simmons & Simmons, where he began training as a solicitor in 2011.

Although earning a law degree and postgraduate diploma in law from Oxford, Allos has no official academic training in a scientific field. This is unusual for patent lawyers in the UK market, who often move into law after cementing their technical expertise. However, Allos’ smooth ascent to the Allen & Overy partnership demonstrates that with the correct training and mindset, the necessary skills can be learned elsewhere. Being surrounded by talented and market-leading litigators, such as Marjan Noor and Neville Cordell, has no doubt helped.

Allos is keen to ensure that other young lawyers are also aware they can follow such a trajectory. He says, “I am keen to nurture an interest in the sector and regulatory environment in more junior lawyers, and hopefully to show that you can continue to be a successful patent litigator in increasingly technically complex fields without a science degree.” As such, under the steer of partners such as Marjan Noor, one of the UK market’s most renowned life sciences litigators, he has his eye on becoming a leader for pharmaceutical, and particularly regulatory, work.

Allos’ current cases reflect this interest, with blockbuster patents in the life sciences field his domain. For example, he has acted for regular client Eli Lilly against Genentech (now Novartis) in an innovator vs. innovator dispute, which ran in the UK and at the EPO between 2017 and 2022 and concerned a blockbuster antibody for treating psoriasis. The trial involved a jurisdictional battle in relation to seeking declarations of non-infringement on foreign patents, invalidating claims of a divisional patent based upon the UK trial judgment on the parent patent, as well as navigating a change of patent owner.

Allos is also currently defending a Bayer patent for blockbuster anticoagulant Xarelto, which is being used by various generics companies. So far, the patent has survived EPO opposition proceedings brought by 13 opponents, with a UK trial soon to follow. Its market value means this is an important case for the client, with Allos in pole position to deliver a successful outcome.

Read JUVE Patent’s analysis of Allen & Overy in the JUVE Patent UK ranking 2023

Steven Baldwin: Leading high-profile disputes with confidence

Kirkland & Ellis partner is the next up-and-comer from the US firm’s London powerhouse

Steven Baldwin

Last year, Jin Ooi. This year, Steven Baldwin. Among its base of young partners, the Kirkland & Ellis patent team in London has produced two talents who are worth a closer look. When the team first launched on to the market in 2018, Kirkland’s London-based competitors assumed it would be the generation behind lead partner Nicola Dagg that would determine the patent team’s success in the UK. After all, the team moved from Allen & Overy to the US firm with much fanfare.

Most competitors said, naively, that young litigators like Ooi and Baldwin were too inexperienced to tackle this challenge. But, in their very first year, Baldwin and Ooi rose from senior associates to partners. Expectations internally and externally were high, but the lawyers have fulfilled them. Now no-one between the City and the High Court on New Fetter Lane doubts that the team is giving the market-leading boutiques a run for their money in the London market. Having run many prominent cases in just five years, the team is also attracting attention across Europe with a lot of coordination work in pan-European cases.

One such case is the dispute between AutoStore and Ocado over warehouse automation systems. Baldwin is not only co-leading the UK proceedings, but also coordinating the parallel proceedings in Germany, while Kirkland handles the corresponding parallel proceedings in the US. “A very confident litigator amid a strong group of young partners,” a lawyer said of Baldwin last year. This year, the confidence continues to come through: competitors also describe Baldwin as “very confident” and “one to look out for.”

Of course, Steven Baldwin found the best conditions following the move to Kirkland. Since then, the strong US practice has steadily provided high-calibre work to London – especially in mobile communication, where Baldwin has developed a clear focus. Although the market encounters him less frequently in pharma cases, Baldwin was one of Kirkland’s lead partners for Apple in UK proceedings against Ericsson, until the settlement at the end of 2022. It was Kirkland’s first appearance alongside the iPhone maker in London. Other work followed, for which he took the lead.

Furthermore, Baldwin has gained extensive experience in high-profile FRAND issues, most recently on the side of Lenovo against InterDigital. The global mobile communication community is currently awaiting a decision from judge James Mellor, with observers keen to see if the High Court applies, for the first time, its Unwired Planet vs. Huawei case law. While that would not be a win for Lenovo and the Kirkland team, it is no doubt an invaluable experience for Baldwin.

Read JUVE Patent’s analysis of Kirkland & Ellis in the JUVE Patent UK ranking 2023

 

Stuart Baran: Treasury junior demonstrates a diverse skill set

Acting for the UKIPO and UK government in IP means Baran has a bright future ahead

 

Stuart Baran

 

Playing the violin and speaking fluent French are just two of Stuart Baran’s talents; he is currently also learning Italian after indulging his love of travel with a three-month sabbatical in Rome. Aside from proficiency in the arts, the 39-year-old mid-level junior barrister, who was called to the Bar in 2011, harboured dreams of becoming a lawyer from the age of 16. He became interested in patents specifically following a week-long work experience placement at a local patent attorney firm, where he clearly impressed, returning during holidays as a technical assisstant. During this time, Baran was earning a DPhil from the University of Oxford in physical and theoretical chemistry, as well as earning the title of Master of Chemistry.

From 2009 he trained in law, before joining Three New Square in 2011 as a pupil barrister. Here, Baran often specialises in cases concerning life sciences and pharmaceutical patents although he is keen to “stay as broad as possible for as long possible in all areas of IP,” he says. “Although my practice is largely patent-focused, I am keen not to pigeonhole myself.” Despite not yet reaching the ranks of King’s Counsel, Baran’s aptitude and competence has made him highly recommended among his peers, and by instructing counsel. “A true rising star: clever, and light with it,” says one lawyer.

In particular, Baran has experience in handling SPCs, such as in the case between Eli Lilly and Genentech (now Novartis) where he was the sole advocate concerning SPC regulation for client Eli Lilly. This is a client which often turns to Baran for its oral advocacy. In 2022, he also appeared for Bayer as the defendant, alongside KC and fellow Three New Square tenant Tom Mitcheson, against Teva over cancer drug sorafenib; indeed, Baran has acted twice for Sandoz and Teva in joint claims. When Baran first joined Three New Square, Mitcheson was among his pupil masters – the others being highly regarded barristers Simon Malynicz, Tom Hinchliffe and Geoffrey Pritchard.

Perhaps most importantly, however, since 2019 Stuart Baran has been one of two Standing Counsel – the other, Anna Edwards-Stuart of 11 South Square – to HM Comptroller-General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks. Otherwise known as a ‘treasury junior’, the position has alumni as distinguished as current Court of Appeal judge Colin Birss, and former Court of Appeal judge and distinguished speaker on IP, Robin Jacob. With Baran able to take on IP cases on behalf of the UKIPO and the UK, as well as being available for consultation by government departments on IP issues, one patent lawyer says, “Stuart Baran’s selection as a treasury junior is indicative of his talents – he will go far.”

In this capacity, Baran is continuing to represent HM Comptroller-General against Stephen Thaler in the case concerning AI system, Dabus. With inventor Stephen Thaler recently losing at the Court of Appeal, which determined that AI cannot be an inventor under the Patents Act 1977, the next step for both parties is a Supreme Court hearing scheduled for March 2023. And, while the treasury junior position is usually held for only three years, both Baran and Edwards-Stuart have been selected to continue until 2025. Next stop for Stuart Baran: silk?

Read JUVE Patent’s analysis of Three New Square in the JUVE Patent UK ranking 2023

 

Gemma Barrett: Handling blockbuster litigation with ease

Barrett’s litigation skill and leadership for life sciences clients set to secure future of Bristows’ partnership

Gemma Barrett

 

With an academic background in biochemistry, Gemma Barrett became a partner at Bristows in 2017 aged just 34. Having begun her career at the market-leading IP boutique in 2006, Barrett is a prime example of how the firm’s policy of eschewing lateral hires in favour of home-grown talent is bearing fruit. Amid a patent partnership featuring multiple highly regarded figures, many of whom are leaders in their field, competitors describe Barrett as “easy going and friendly; she is a strategist, who makes strong arguments.”

Alongside highly visible senior partner Brian Cordery, the 40-year-old Barrett led a UK team in litigation for Sandoz in revocation actions relating to Eliquis, which covers active ingredient apixaban. Bristol-Myers Squibb’s anticoagulant product to treat blood clots is the fifth best-selling drug globally, with the related patent actions concerning plausibility and obviousness respectively. While Sandoz settled in relation to four of the patents, Bristows and Sandoz successfully revoked the remaining patent at the High Court in London in summer 2022.

Barrett also successfully worked alongside Alcon as it defended a patent relating to Travatan, a top-selling drug used in the treatment of glaucoma. This action presented multiple issues for Barrett to grapple with: for example, while the patent had long since expired, generic companies Accord and Aspire sough a cross-undertaking in damages. Furthermore, Barrett’s involvement stems from her time as a junior associate, when the preliminary injunction was initially obtained, until a recent decision in 2022 by the Court of Appeal. Few lawyers can so easily chart the trajectory of their career – especially when a case they began ends so satisfactorily.

On top of her drive to diversify the top level of Bristows’ partnership, Barrett is also hoping the coming years will elevate her visibility as a female leader in her field – starting with women thinking about careers in STEM. She says, “The last ten years have seen huge changes and progress for women working in the industry. I hope that I will have helped to build on that further, and have encouraged other female lawyers in their career paths.”

With the Bristows patent partnership still male-heavy, Barrett’s position alongside other female partners Rachel Mumby and the highly recommended Liz Cohen should demonstrate how a diversity of talent – especially, some would argue, in boutiques – is critical in securing future instructions. Especially given the recent retirements of two of Bristows’ senior stalwarts, better visibility of younger talents such as Barrett should cement the boutique’s vision for the future.

Read JUVE Patent’s analysis of Bristows in the JUVE Patent UK ranking 2023

 

 

Christopher Sharp: Exposure for Teva key to heightened visibility

More than anything, Sharp’s work for Teva is helping elevate Pinsent Masons’ expertise in generic drug litigation

Christopher Sharp

 

In a year where the UK courts have heard multiple long-running pharmaceutical disputes, partner Christopher Sharp’s frequent appearances for companies such as Flynn and Teva have thrust the young partner firmly into the limelight. For the latter, for example, Sharp (41), who holds a degree in chemistry and began his career in-house as a research chemist for Novartis, has taken on the bulk of the litigation work. Over 2022, work for Teva included facing off against Novartis over cancer treatment drug fingolimod – a case of diverging decisions which has parallel proceedings across Europe – as well as against Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer over anticoagulant drug, Eliquis.

Regarding Flynn, alongside Neurim the company commenced infringement proceedings against Mylan in relation to a divisional patent for insomnia drug Circadin – Flynn’s flagship product – which the EPO granted in June 2021. The case, which has entered the damages stage, involved issues such as interim injunctions, different ways of granting injunctions in the UK, the scope of exclusive licences, and the use of divisional patents and competition issues.

For both Flynn and Teva, Sharp has demonstrated that he possesses the ability and skill to litigate against more senior lead partners in the UK patent market, from other visible firms such as Hogan Lovells and Taylor Wessing. One competitor notes that “he is a very good operator when we act opposite him, especially for generics and biosimilars” while another says that Sharp is “sensible, pleasant and doesn’t mess around.”

Furthermore, other parallel Teva actions over fingolimod in jurisdictions such as France provides Sharp with the chance to potentially be involved in coordinating future proceedings. Through the Teva connection, Sharp has also secured a new client in its commercial partner Bioeq. Elsewhere, Sharp has acted for Juul Labs in relation to electronic cigarettes, and in advising a biotechnology company on IP licensing opportunities and patent strategy regarding CRISPR/Cas. A diverse client base provides a good springboard for experience at the impending UPC, which is a core focus of the firm’s patent team. And with Sharp’s practice making the shift toward innovator drug companies as well as Pinsent Masons’ usual generic drug company roster, future pharma instructions are only a matter of time.

Read JUVE Patent’s analysis of Pinsent Masons in the JUVE Patent UK ranking 2023

 

Tess Waldron: From ASIs to mRNA

Powell Gilbert’s latest partner promotion is versatile and predominantly praised for her work for BioNTech

Tess Waldron

Learning the craft of law alongside senior partner Penny Gilbert is certainly a strong foundation. After all, Gilbert is one of the most highly regarded pharma patent litigators in Europe. But when a lawyer from another firm says that Tess Waldron “is the mastermind behind important pharma work for her firm”, it is a true compliment. This does not happen to many young lawyers in the highly competitive London market.

Currently, the most exciting and prestigious pharmaceutical case for Powell Gilbert is its defence of BioNTech in lawsuits filed by competitors CureVac and Moderna over mRNA patents. Tess Waldron is advising BioNTech together with Penny Gilbert. Lawsuits in Germany and the UK remain at an early stage, with the court not yet hearing the cases – as such, Tess Waldron has not yet demonstrated her skills as a litigator in court. But behind the scenes, the developers of COVID-19 vaccines have prepared for lawsuits for at least two years.

She is “extremely cooperative and has a high-level of understanding,” says another lawyer praising Waldron. The importance of the proceedings will only become clear in the course of the year, because it is not actually about corona vaccines, but about the future business of mRNA-based drugs. And her penchant for life science cases is no accident. Prior to becoming a solicitor, Tess Waldron qualified as a doctor and spent three years working in hospital medicine. In this field, another important client is Edwards Lifesciences, which she is representing with other Powell Gilbert partners in its multinational dispute with Meril Life Sciences over transcatheter heart valves.

Last year, the firm appointed the 43-year-old as a partner, making her the fourth woman in Powell Gilbert’s 13-strong partnership. Life science litigation marks one end of the technical spectrum of patent litigation, with mobile phone litigation the other. As a senior associate, Waldron also gathered expertise in mobile communication cases involving FRAND and competition law, as part of the team representing Huawei in the dispute against Unwired Planet. She has also developed a special interest in anti-suit-injunctions over the years. Quite a few UK experts believe that, following Brexit, the instrument could become attractive again in the UK patent courts – and Waldron is poised to provide her expertise.

Read JUVE Patent’s analysis of Powell Gilbert in the JUVE Patent UK ranking 2023

 

Michael Washbrook: Biotechnologist in the mobile communications sector

Taylor Wessing’s young partner is present in many important proceedings, across life sciences and mobile communication cases

Michael Washbrook

Michael Washbrook has played a major role in the successful rise in visibility of Taylor Wessing’s patent team in London. The team was involved in four of JUVE Patent’s top 10 patent disputes in 2022 – one is the now-settled mega-battle over mobile communications licences between Apple and Taylor Wessing’s regular client Ericsson. It also represents Abbott in the global dispute with Dexcom over wireless glucose monitoring devices. And, while Michael Washbrook is involved in both instances, other mobile communications cases have fallen on the 37-year-old patent litigator’s desk in the past year.

But this is not just down to the headline-grabbing dispute against Apple. Washbrook is also working for various companies from the Oppo Group against InterDigital in another dispute over mobile communication licences and FRAND. In the next few months, the UK proceedings will really pick up speed. However, the strong focus on mobile phone litigation in the past year is probably more of a coincidence for Washbrook, a biotechnologist by training. He feels very much at home in the two dominant technology fields of patent litigation. Like many of his younger colleagues in the UK, he specialises not only in the life sciences sector, despite his training in biotechnology, but is much more broadly active. While Washbrook is not part of the team defending Pfizer against lawsuits filed by CureVac and Moderna, he is advising the US pharmaceutical company on newer projects.

On the opposite side of the technical spectrum, Washbrook, who the firm named as partner in 2021, is defending Shenzhen Senior Technology Materials over battery technology for electric cars against Celgard. The dispute also varies legally, with Washbrook taking the lead for his client. Instead of patent infringement, it is a complex defence against the accusation of misuse of trade secrets, demonstrating his broader IP skill set.

In the dispute between Abbott and Dexcom, however, Washbrook can once again draw on his technical expertise from all areas. The two medical technology manufacturers are locked in a bitter dispute over advanced devices for diabetic patients and specifically wireless glucose-monitoring devices, which allow patients to control the administration of insulin via interfaces using a mobile device. For Washbrook, this is where what he does best, life sciences and mobile communication patents, come together.

Read JUVE Patent’s analysis of Taylor Wessing in the JUVE Patent UK ranking 2023