German firm Graf von Westphalen makes push into patent litigation

Midsized, full-service German firm Graf von Westphalen has strengthened its patent practice in Munich with a team from competitor Beiten Burkhardt. Patent litigator Sebastian Heim (45) will be joining the firm with at least two associates in July. At the same time, the firm has brought in Jörg Khöber (48), another patent litigator from the mixed firm Prüfer & Partner.

9 April 2021 by Konstanze Richter

With a team from Beiten Burkhardt, German mid-sized law firm Graf von Westphalen is setting up a patent practice in Munich this summer. ©Andreas Anhalt

Sebastian Heim began his career in 2006 as an associate at Beiten Burkhardt and was promoted to partner in 2010. He gradually built up the firm’s patent practice there, initially as salary partner and from 2016 as equity partner.

Sebastian Heim

He specialises in litigation, strategic IP advice, employee invention law and technology transfer and frequently advises large Mittelstand companies on infringement proceedings and nullity suits. Clients include companies such as ZF Friedrichshafen, Ziehm Imaging and the garage door manufacturer Hörmann.

After various departures in recent months and the upcoming move of part of the practice to GvW in the summer, Beiten will only have two partners focussing on patent advice.

In addition to the patent team led by Sebastian Heim, trademarks partner Axel von Walter (45) is also moving from Beiten to GvW along with a further IP partner and two associates.

Start from scratch

Up until now only Düsseldorf IP partner Joachim Mulch and an associate have covered patent issues at GvW. The firm has not yet, however, been visible in patent litigation. With the arrival of the Beiten team, GvW is now setting its sights on patent infringement proceedings and nullity suits.

GvW already took its first step towards expanding patent advice at the beginning of the year with Frankfurt partner Nicolas Dumont. He joined from Arnold Porter Kaye Scholer, where he mainly advised on trademark and copyright issues.

Dumont boasts many years of experience in patent litigation gained at Bird & Bird and DLA Piper. At Bird & Bird, he was part of the team led by Felix Rödiger that advised Acer and Valeo in infringement proceedings. He joined Markus Gampp’s patent team at DLA in 2015 and then Arnold Porter Kaye Scholer in 2019. There, he mainly advised on trademark and copyright issues.

Another patent litigator, Jörg Khöber from the mixed law firm Prüfer & Partner, joins Graf von Westphalen’s patent team in July. He joins as counsel and also brings experience in patent infringement and nullity proceedings, which he gained in particular during his time in Gowling’s patent practice. Together with the team led by IP partners Alexander Bayer and Michael Schneider, he moved from Gowling to Pinsent Masons in 2017. Almost two years later, he made a further move to Prüfer & Partner. There, he most recently advised primarily on soft IP, but also occasionally assisted clients with patent infringement suits.

With the new additions, the IP practice at GvW now has a total of eleven professionals, five of whom are partners.