Big partner moves at Bardehle in Hamburg and Munich

Bardehle shakes up the German patent market. The firm brings the well-known patent litigator Tobias Wuttke from Meissner Bolte to its Munich office. From Eisenführ Speiser, the also well-known Volkmar Henke and Tilman Müller move to Hamburg. As a consequence, Bardehle opens an office in Hamburg. Both Meissner Bolte and Eisenführ react by reorganising their litigation departments.

22 December 2022 by Mathieu Klos

Bardehle's massive expansion of the patent litigation team focuses on Hamburg and Munich. ©Andreas Anhalt

Tobias Wuttke (46) brings with him extensive experience in mobile communications litigation. His most important client is Deutsche Telekom. Wuttke joins Bardehle Pagenberg as equity partner from Meissner Bolte on 1 January. He had moved from Quinn Emanuel to the mixed law firm Meissner Bolte in 2010, where he was instrumental in building up a separate patent litigation practice. In addition to German telecoms, his practice also includes mechanical and medical technology patents.

Tobias Wuttke

Tobias Wuttke

For example, he represented Belparts in a case against Belimo over pressure valve technology, as well as German discounter Netto in an intense battle against Envipco over a bottle deposit system and ITW against Madag Printing over packaging machines.

So far, JUVE Patent does not know which clients will follow Wuttke to Bardehle. However, it is very likely that Deutsche Telekom, a long-standing regular client, will be one of them.

Bardehle goes to Hamburg

In addition to the expansion in Munich, Bardehle also announced the opening of a Hamburg office in spring 2023. Volkmar Henke (53), Tilman Müller (44) and one associate will join from Eisenführ Speiser. Both patent litigators join Bardehle on 1 March as equity partners. They have extensive experience in cases in the mobile communications sector, in particular SEP and FRAND claims on the side of patent pools and other SEP holders.

Henke and Müller advised, for example, Access Advance pool members against Xiaomi, Vestel and TCL over video coding, as well as GE and Mitsubishi against Xiaomi over patents related to the HEVC Video Codex. The Via Licensing patent pool against TCT/TCL over signal synthesising technology relevant for the MPEG-4 AAC standard is an other well known client of both lawyers. They have also been active in the past for Philips and patent pool Sisvel.

Volkmar Henke, Eisenführ Speiser, patent litigation

Volkmar Henke

Both law firms said that Henke, Müller and the Eisenführ patent attorneys will continue to cooperate in the ongoing proceedings.  On a long term, JUVE Patent does not know which clients Henke and Müller will bring with them to Bardehle. Philips and Sisvel, for example, are also a very long-standing client of the Eisenführ patent attorney practice. However, it is considered very likely that some of their clients under the patent pools will follow them.

Bardehle has recently been seen more alongside implementors in litigation. However, the firm also represents some SEP holders, for example NPE Intellectual Ventures against various defendants as well as Oppo in the active litigation against Nokia.

Bardehle steps on the gas

Bardehle is also growing its equity partnership internally, with Jan Bösing joining as of 1 January. He has been a salary partner in the Munich office since 2020 and is currently a member of the Bardehle team leading the active litigation for Oppo in the global battle with Nokia over mobile communications patents. He also accompanied TomTom as co-litigant for Daimler in the connected cars lawsuits brought by Nokia.

The massive expansion of the litigation team is to be seen in light of the expansion of Bardehle’s work in mobile communications lawsuits. The firm is currently involved in one of the largest lawsuits worldwide for Oppo against Nokia. It has been involved in connected cars patent litigation for several co-defendants of Daimler, as well as for several car brands from the Stellantis group. However, the new equity partners also represent a marked reinforcement against the backdrop of the UPC’s launch in June.

The firm relies on large litigation teams because of the very tight deadline regime for UPC proceedings. Bardehle had recently lost two partners. Peter Chrocziel left the partnership in Munich when he reached retirement age to set up his own firm Vindelici Legal. In Düsseldorf, Alexander Haertel recently moved to German mobile communications provider Deutsche Telekom.

Tilman Müller

With the addition of Wuttke, Henke, Müller and Bösing the patent litigation team now counts seven equity partners. Bardehle now has to staff both teams in Munich and Hamburg with associates

Setback for Meissner Bolte

For Wuttke’s old firm Meissner Bolte, his departure is a hard blow. The firm had built a successful litigation practice under the significant influence of its best-known litigator. Meissner Bolte is a medium-sized mixed firm with twelve offices in Germany. The patent practice currently employs 71 patent attorneys and 11 lawyers.

In recent years, Meissner Bolte has had some success in increasingly integrating patent attorneys and lawyers in patent litigation. However, the expansion of the lawyer team has met with mixed success. Two lawyers who were recruited for the Düsseldorf office have since left the firm.

Meissner Bolte reacts

Despite Wuttke’s departure, Meissner Bolte intends to continue with her mixed setup and strong litigation team. In a press release, the firm announced new partner hires.  The firm hired Michael Nieder. Nieder is a highly experienced IP litigator and was most recently of counsel at his longstanding firm Klaka in Munich. He, however, does not join Meissner Bolte as a partner.

“The addition of Michael Nieder demonstrates our determination to further expand our patent litigation practice,” said Stefan Zech, managing partner of Meissner Bolte.

The firm’s litigation department is now headed by lawyer Philipp Rastemborski together with patent attorney Florian Henke. Both partners belong to the younger generation, which has recently become more prominent.

In patent prosecution, Meissner Bolte also announced new additions. In Hannover, patent attorneys Joachim Gerstein, Rolf Kröncke and Constantin Günther are joining Meissner Bolte from Gramm Lins on partner level. A team of associates will follow them. The partners are also to strengthen the litigation expertise of their new firm. Gerstein, for example, has a focus on patent and design disputes and SEP disputes. He represented ZyXEL as co-defendant in a dispute between Intellectual Ventures against Telefonica. He also acted for Bury as co-defendant for Daimler against Nokia.

In Munich, patent attorney and biotech expert Lukas Bischoff has been promoted to the partnership. In Düsseldorf, patent attorney Ulrich Kreutzer joins Meissner Bolte on partner level from CBDL. He is particularly active in software and IT patents.

Expansion at Eisenführ comes to a standstill

In Henke and Müller, two prominent patent litigators are leaving Eisenführ. Some of Eisenführ’s patent attorneys, such as Jochen Ehlers or Klaus Göken, are highly experienced in litigation. Last year, the firm also recruited Michael Schneider for its Munich office as a new partner. He has also experience in SEP litigation.

However, the team of patent litigators in particular is now reduced to five. Other lawyers advise more on soft IP.

The firm’s important clients include Philips and Sisvel, as well as many German technology companies such as Enercon and Harting. For these clients, the patent attorneys and lawyers together traditionally run numerous infringement cases.

Eisenführ announced that it intends to strengthen its patent litigation department again with new hires. Eisenführ also did not exclude further office openings in Germany.