Pinsent Masons hires renowned patent attorney to strengthen UPC offering

Highly regarded patent attorney Kristina Cornish has joined the London office of Pinsent Masons, in a move towards a mixed-firm model. She is a partner in its life sciences team, which it has focused on expanding over the past few years. Cornish is one of the first patent attorney partners at the firm in London, with the move coming just months before the UPC opens its doors.

28 February 2023 by Amy Sandys

Kristina Cornish, Pinsent Masons, Kilburn & Strode Renowned patent attorney Kristina Cornish has joined the London office of Pinsent Masons as a life sciences-specialist partner. Now the firm has a mixed offering in the UK capital. ©Haris Photography/ADOBE STOCK

Kristina Cornish (55) joined the London office of Pinsent Masons in mid-January 2023 as a partner in its life sciences team. While historically a litigation firm, the latest move sees a shift towards the integration of patent attorneys into its firm structure, with the view to establishing a bespoke patent attorney team across its European offices.

However, the firm is not establishing a separate patent attorney practice. It will continue to work with other patent attorney firms on various cases.

On the other hand, with Pinsent Masons’ Dutch office taking on the well-regarded András Kupecz, it is likely that the firm will roll out this somewhat mixed approach more widely in the coming months. In London, Cornish’s move also comes just before the UPC will begin hearing cases in June 2023. UPC guidelines will permit her to be involved in cases before its courts, since she is a qualified European patent attorney.

Kristina Cornish

Cornish brings vast experience

After 25 years at patent attorney firm Kilburn & Strode, Kristina Cornish is highly regarded in the UK and European patent market. She has strong experience in the life sciences and regulatory sectors, as well as expertise in advice over inventorship and entitlement disputes.

Her previous work includes representing clients such as Janssen in relation to its anti-HIV portfolio, for example in SPC filings for combination drug Odefsey.

She was part of the team involved in a CJEU referral over the darunvir SPC, which became part of the Royalty Pharma case. Most recently, Cornish worked to revoke a European patent relating to methods of identifying a misfolded protein used in the treatment of inflammatory disorders, and another patent relating to a combination of drugs in a dosage form for treating cancer.

She also has extensive experience at the European Patent Office, both in opposition work and in patent filing. For example, Cornish has handled European patent portfolios for clients including Mars, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, LifeArc, Synthetic Genomics, Truvian Sciences, Athersys Inc., Conagen Inc, Sigilon Therapeutics, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Sage Therapeutics, and Syros Pharmaceuticals.

As such, Cornish retains strong connections with a multitude of clients. This puts Pinsent Masons in a solid position to work on the same or similar instructions at the UPC.

Lead up to UPC

After completing a degree in biotechnology, Cornish began her patent attorney training at Boult Wade Tennant, before moving to Kilburn & Strode in 1996. She remained at the patent attorney firm until January 2022. Previously, Cornish was a member of the BioIndustry Association IP Committee. She also sat on the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) Life Sciences Committee. She remains a member of the Institute of Professional Representatives before the European Patent Office (epi), which has a focus on examinations at the EPO.

Speaking to JUVE Patent, Kristina Cornish says, “While I loved my time at Kilburn & Strode, I felt the time was right for a new challenge and am delighted to have joined an innovative organisation like Pinsent Masons. With the firm looking to diversify internationally, as well as gearing toward the upcoming UPC, it is such an exciting time to join the partnership.

I have known numerous people at Pinsent Masons for many years, and I am looking forward to working alongside them in their top-tier life sciences team, to make business work better for their clients.”

Kilburn’s eye on Europe

Across Europe, Cornish’s former firm Kilburn & Strode is focusing its life sciences, technology and chemistry practices. Commenting on the move, Gwilym Roberts, partner at Kilburn & Strode, says, “We are really pleased to see Kristina join Pinsent Masons and wish her well.  Kilburn & Strode’s Life Sciences group is in a significant growth phase, and with a new generation of frontline partners driving a cluster of new client wins, we are always actively seeking laterals.

Our continental investment continues to pay off, with our Netherlands colleagues now making up a significant percentage of our attorney headcount. This growth is contributing hugely as we home in on our target of being the first choice for IP services in Europe.”

The patent attorney firm operates in London, Munich, the Netherlands and in San Francisco. In July 2022, Kilburn & Strode opened a new office in Eindhoven, meaning it now has four Dutch offices with six patent-specialist partners. Partner Rike Dekker heads up this latest offering, with the firm recently also expanding in Amsterdam and London.

UK team takes shape

Similarly, Pinsent Masons us focusing on expanding its team in Europe and globally. This is especially noticeable in its life sciences capacities, while it also has its sights set on the energy sector.

Clare Tunstall is head of Life Sciences and Intellectual Property at Pinsent Masons. She says, “As an internationally recognised market leader, Kristina will bring invaluable experience and additional skills to our European team. She will enable us to expand the support we provide to our life sciences clients, for whom patents are business critical assets. Her strong US network will open up additional international opportunities.”

The firm’s last major coup in London came in November 2021, with the addition of former CMS partner Gareth Morgan and a team of five associates who joined him shortly thereafter. Prior to that, in September 2021, the firm also hired Gina Bicknell from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

JUVE Patent also recently named young Pinsent Masons partner Christopher Sharp as part of its ‘Ones to Watch’ feature in the UK rankings 2023, due to his frequent work for Teva at the UK courts. Following her move, Cornish is also looking to work more closely with innovative pharmaceutical drug companies.

A European focus

Furthermore, while the firm has recently hired partners in Dubai and Sydney, it is also focusing on expansion in Europe. In March 2022, its Amsterdam office welcomed third patent-specialist partner Judith Krens, who was previously a partner at Taylor Wessing. She joined the team alongside previous hires András Kupecz and Machteld Hiemstra. The latter has life science expertise regarding supplementary protection certificates and regulatory enforcement. Kupecz is also a life sciences expert and was the firm’s first major patent attorney hire on the continent.

On the other hand, while the firm’s Paris office retains a good reputation for innovator drug manufacturer cases under partner Emmanuel Gougé, its German offering languishes behind. In 2021, the firm lost two patent partners with the departure of Michael Schneider and Peter Koch. It is yet to rebuild the team back to its former strength.