Well-known Dutch patent litigator Gertjan Kuipers is moving from De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek to the partnership at Hogan Lovells. Based in Amsterdam, the international firm's latest partner addition comes less than a year after Klaas Bisschop moved to the city's Court of Appeal. Kuipers joins Hogan Lovells just two months before the UPC opens its doors.
15 March 2023 by Amy Sandys
On 1 April 2023, Hogan Lovells’ patent litigation team in Amsterdam will return to full strength. Today, the international firm announced that patent lawyer Gertjan Kuipers (54) will join the practice after over 27 years at national full-service firm, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek. The addition of Kuipers, who will work alongside partner Ruud van der Velden, means the firm once more has two established patent partners in the Netherlands. The latter is also well-known in the Dutch market.
Kuipers, who is experienced in both pharmaceutical and telecommunication cases, holds a masters of science and a masters of law, as well as a doctorate in law from the University of Utrecht. Kuipers began his career at De Brauw in 1995, where he has spent the past 27 years building up the firm’s patent practice. In 2004, the firm elevated Kuipers to partner, a position he held for almost 20 years.
Kuipers joins Hogan Lovells almost exactly two months before the UPC is set to open its doors. Undoubtedly, the firm is strengthening its teams in key locations such as the Netherlands, which will host a local division of the court.
However, the move is unusual for Hogan Lovells. So far, the firm’s patent practice has avoided lateral hires on a partner level, instead preferring to promote internally. As such, aside from Kuipers, the Dutch patent team’s current set-up includes no lateral hires.
This trend is replicated across the firm’s patent offices in Europe and the UK, with Munich the notable exception. In 2018, Hogan Lovells hired patent attorney Andreas Schmid as counsel from Prüfer & Partner, with the firm making him partner in 2021. While Schmid’s move marked Hogan Lovells’ first patent attorney hire, however, Kuipers is the patent practice’s first recent lateral hire.
Gertjan Kuipers says, “Joining Hogan Lovells presents a unique and interesting opportunity to work in an international firm – for me, this aspect is especially important, given the imminent launch of the UPC. Much of my existing work is already cross-border in nature, so I am looking forward to joining a firm where IP is a core practice across its European office. It’s a great chance to help develop the firm’s already-impressive patent practice.”
Kuipers and the Hogan Lovells team are well-acquainted, occasionally acting together on patent cases. This has resulted in some cross-over client work, for example for German science and technology company Merck. Here, a conflict saw Hogan Lovells shift the case to De Brauw, which acted for the company against Teva at the Dutch Supreme Court.
Manon Cordewener is managing partner for Hogan Lovells’ Amsterdam office. She says, “Gertjan’s arrival is a significant addition to our patent practice in Amsterdam, which already has a strong reputation for handling complex and high-value IP litigation matters across a range of industries. We are thrilled to welcome Gertjan to our team and look forward to the contributions he will make in his new role.”
Kuipers’ departure leaves 17 IP-specialist lawyers at De Brauw. Currently, its patent team is predominantly visible in electronics and telecommunication cases, including those involving FRAND. But with Kuipers the sole patent litigation partner, he is highly visible in most – if not all – of the firm’s patent cases. For example, he has recently represented patent pool GEVC and Access Advance against Vestel regarding its FRAND defence at the District Court of The Hague, and for important client Sonos against Google over smart-speaker technology. In the past, Kuipers also acted for patent pool Sisvel in Dutch proceedings.
Away from electronics, he also has expertise in medical devices and pharmaceuticals. As recently as January 2023, a De Brauw team led by Gertjan Kuipers represented Advanced Bionics against competitor MED-EL, with the court ruling that the former may continue selling its cochlear implant in the Netherlands. He also acts for companies such as Ferring, Amgen and Biogen.
Thus, for De Brauw, what the loss of its most visible patent partner means for the practice is unclear. As a national full-service firm, it has no patent capacities outside of the Netherlands. In 2020, it lost young lawyer Oscar Lamme to the IP team of Simmons & Simmons, as well as Tjibbe Douma, who in 2019 moved for a stint at Dentons. He left the firm two years later, joining Bird & Bird in early 2021.
That the firm is undergoing an internal restructuring is also no secret. In mid-2022, the Dutch press reported that De Brauw is, for example, shedding its IT law department. According to the press and the Dutch market, this was to enable the firm to focus on its corporate practice. With Kuipers leaving for Hogan Lovells, and no patent litigation partner poised to take over his role, the market is eyeing the firm’s IP and patent capacities with interest.
Speaking to JUVE Patent, Tobias Cohen Jehoram, IP partner at De Brauw, says, “Gertjan has been a partner for many years and we have appreciated his contribution. We wish him all the best and success at his new firm. Meanwhile, the IP practice remains a core focus practice for De Brauw, as evidenced by two counsel appointments last year. Going forward, De Brauw keeps growing and investing in this essential part of its full-service offering. That goes for the patent and tech practice, as well as other areas covered by the IP practice.”
For now, Kuipers is joining Hogan Lovells as a solo practitioner; it remains unclear whether associates will follow. However, that Hogan Lovells intends to expand its patent team yet further, in order to build clout for its clients in UPC cases, seems certain.
While Hogan Lovells remains a strong challenger to the Dutch market leaders, it has recently seen changes at partner level. In April 2022, Hogan Lovells lost its most senior patent litigator Klaas Bisschop to the Court of Appeal in Amsterdam. Bisschop had worked for Hogan Lovells for almost 21 years, cementing a reputation as the most visible partner in the Dutch patent team. He was a pillar of the firm’s pan-European patent litigation practice.
Furthermore, in January 2023, well-regarded senior litigator Bert Oosting stepped back as partner to become senior counsel. While Oosting remains heavily involved in the firm’s business development activities, it is unclear what the change of position means for his current patent clients.
In the past two years, Hogan Lovells’ patent team in Amsterdam was especially visible in pharmaceutical cases, with the team highly active for originator drug manufacturers such as MSD and Bristol-Myers Squibb. It also maintains close ties to Eli Lilly and works on the medical devices side for Meril Life Sciences. In telecommunication, Hogan Lovells has previously appeared for Oppo in its dispute with Sharp. Here, a De Brauw team led by Kuipers acted for Sharp on the other side.
While Kuipers has recently predominantly been active for SEP holders and patent pools such as Access Advance and Sisvel, Hogan Lovells is clearly positioned on the side of implementers. Therefore, it seems unlikely that Kuipers will continue to work for patent pools under the Hogan Lovells banner.