Former German patent judge joins Meissner Bolte

Renowned German patent judge Rainer Engels is set to reinforce mixed Munich IP firm Meissner Bolte from the beginning of August. With this move, Meissner Bolte continues its expansion course in patent litigation.

30 July 2020 by Mathieu Klos

Rainer Engels Patent judge Rainer Engels will join Munich IP firm Meissner Bolte from 1 August ©Alexi Tauzin/ADOBE STOCK

On 1 August, Rainer Engels (65) will join the mixed patent firm Meissner Bolte as of counsel. Engels will support the Munich-based patent litigation team.

Rainer Engels

Rainer Engels

In 1998, Engels became a judge at the Federal Patent Court in Munich. In 2012, he became presiding judge of the 4th Nullity Senate. This senate is mainly responsible for pharmaceutical and medical devices patents. However, it also deals with nullity suits concerning mechanical and electrical engineering patents.

During this time Engels was involved in many important decisions such as the decision on the German patent for Gilead’s HIV drug Truvada. The Federal Patent Court declared the Truvada SPC null and void (case ID: 4 Ni 12/17).

Tobias Wuttke, who heads Meissner Bolte’s litigation team, explains, “Rainer Engels will give further impetus to Meissner Bolte’s litigation practice. This is especially true for oppositions and revocation proceedings before German offices and courts.”

Last year, Engels left his position at the court at his own request before official retirement. His successor as presiding judge is Kathrin Grote-Bittner.

To date, Engels is one of the most renowned patent judges in Germany. He is frequently lauded by patent experts for his work in patent law, and is also a known critic of the Federal Patent Court.

Internal critic

The court is responsible for nullity suits. Therefore, it is one of two pillars in the German patent bifurcation system. Criticism regarding the duration of nullity suits, especially from lawyers and companies, has long abounded.

The Federal Patent Court takes considerably longer to reach decisions in nullity cases than the civil courts do for judgments in infringement cases. Patent experts claim that the time difference between the rulings in infringement and nullity cases leads to an imbalance, thus causing considerable problems in patent litigation in Germany.

With the upcoming patent law reform, many experts have called for more staff at the Federal Patent Court. Patent experts also want to see structural changes in order to speed up nullity suits.

Ambitions in Düsseldorf

Meissner Bolte is currently involved in more than 50 patent proceedings before the regional courts in Düsseldorf, Munich, Mannheim and Hamburg. For the most part, the outfit represents the plaintiff. On behalf of its most prominent client Deutsche Telekom, however, the firm is mainly active in defence as the company battles suits from non-practising entities.

Tobias Wuttke

Tobias Wuttke

Meissner Bolte also conducts numerous proceedings for technology companies. These are often companies for which the firm’s patent attorneys have previously filed patents. These include Electrolux, Honeywell and e-cigarette manufacturer Juul Labs.

In recent years, Meissner Bolte has considerably expanded its litigation practice. Perhaps the most prominent development was the strengthening of the Düsseldorf office.

Since the beginning of 2018, the mixed firm had maintained a small office in the nearby town of Ratingen. The office was predominantly staffed by a partner, Uwe Fitzner, who is qualified as both lawyer and European patent attorney.

However, this spring, the office moved to downtown Düsseldorf.

Changing status

In early January, Meissner Bolte brought on board Michael Munsch (38), a litigator from Düsseldorf IP boutique EIP. At his previous firm, Munsch was part of the team representing Unwired Planet and Conversant in cases against Huawei.

In order to offer young lawyers career prospects, Meissner Bolte introduced a new ‘counsel’ status. Three litigators benefited from the change, one being Munsch. In total, Meissner Bolte currently has eight lawyers working in patent litigation. Another associate is set to join the team in October from another Munich law firm. In addition, 73 patent attorneys work at Meissner Bolte.