European litigation market

The main challengers to Europe’s patent market leaders

JUVE Patent’s recent ranking research points to the international teams of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Jones Day, Simmons & Simmons and Taylor Wessing as the major challengers to the firms currently atop the market. Steadily balanced across the four major patent jurisdictions, and with a stable presence in major cross-border disputes, these firms are on the heels of the market leaders. Read our in-depth analysis of their European set up and strategy.

19 June 2020 by Mathieu Klos

Europe's patent market Four European firms are currently hot on the heels of the established patent market leaders ©dmitrimaruta/ADOBE STOCK

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

European presence and strategy: The patent practice of the full-service firm is particularly strong on the European continent. The Dutch office is a mainstay of this well-integrated European team, with further strong offerings in Düsseldorf and Munich. The London team has undergone a recent reshuffle due to a partner departure and arrival.

Europe's patent market

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, JUVE Patent rankings

Although the London office looks small in terms of litigator numbers compared to competitors such as Allen & Overy and Hogan Lovells, in Amsterdam the well-staffed office stands tall alongside such rivals – for both size and visibility. And in Germany, Freshfields is in close sight of the market leaders such as Bird & Bird, Hogan Lovells and some of the best-known boutiques. This is because of its high-profile clients in the pharma and mobile communication fields.

The firm’s well-regarded cross-border links are also worth noting. Freshfields provides a masterclass on how to ensure all European offices remain part of a well-organised machine. In particular, the Amsterdam-Düsseldorf axis is strong.

On the other hand, Freshfields foregoes patent experts in Paris, preferring to cooperate with the general dispute resolution team instead. This strategy may be in line with the firm’s litigation focus as a whole. However, it limits the patent practice as regards cross-border disputes and the UPC – should it ever emerge.

European patent team size: 29 lawyers

Patent attorney practice: None

Leading individuals: Rutger Kleemans (Amsterdam), Frank-Erich Hufnagel, Wolrad Prinz zu Waldeck und Pyrmont (Düsseldorf/Munich), Christopher Stothers (London)

Important cross-border clients: Frequent litigation for Bayer, Hoffman-La Roche, Novartis and Apple, the latter against Qualcomm over memory chips (settled 2019).

Significant clients in recent cross-border disputes: Ericsson against Unwired Planet over SEPs; Nikon against ASML/Carl Zeiss SMT over chip manufacturing (co-counsel with Hogan Lovells; settled 2019); Continental (co-defendant of Daimler) against Nokia, Sharp and Conversant over connected cars patents; Bristol-Myers Squibb (defendant) against Pfizer regarding cancer medicines; Hewlett Packard (claimant) against various imitations of printer cartridges; AB InBev against Heineken relating to beer keg technology (co-counsel with Bird & Bird).


Jones Day

European presence and strategy: The European patent practice is present at some of Europe’s key locations for patent disputes. This includes Munich, London and Paris. In particular in the French capital Jones Day is very strongly positioned with Thomas Bouvet’s team. The second pillar of the European practice is the German team, which impresses with a well-coordinated team of lawyers and patent attorneys. Although the firm also has an office in Düsseldorf, here Jones Day is not visible and has no well-known partners. The London team also has room for development.

Europe's patent market

Jones Day, JUVE Patent rankings

The European team has an especially strong footprint in life science disputes. Internationally, close cooperation with the strong US teams is an asset, as is the integrated work with patent attorneys mainly located in the German offices.

European patent team size: 14 lawyers, 17 patent attorneys

Patent attorney practice: Frankfurt, Munich

Leading individuals: Thomas Bouvet (Paris), Gerd Jaekel (Frankfurt), Christian Paul (Munich); patent attorney: Dorothée Weber-Bruls (Frankfurt)

Significant clients in recent cross-border disputes: Lufthansa Technik (claimant) against Astronics and Safran over energy supply in airseats; Idenix Pharmaceuticals (claimant) against Gilead over Hepatitis C drug Sovaldi; Coloplast (claimant) against Hollister over urinary catheters.


Simmons & Simmons

European presence and strategy: With a strong set-up in London and Amsterdam, the firm is prepared for cross-border disputes all over Europe. Simmons is a major challenger of the market leaders, especially in terms of pharma patents. Both offices work closely together with the Düsseldorf team in pharmaceutical disputes, for example for Bayer or Samsung Bioepis. The London-Amsterdam axis is also strong, for example in mobile communications litigation. In recent years, Simmons & Simmons has also strengthened its market position in Paris and Milan.

Europe's patent market

Simmons & Simmons, JUVE Patent rankings

But there are some gaps in its continental practice. Losing a partner in Munich in 2018, and in Düsseldorf in 2020, means the German team is currently the Achilles’ heel of the European practice. The losses in Germany were a setback for Simmons & Simmons’ continent-wide growth strategy, which focuses on life sciences, electronics and financial services. On the other hand, the firm started to build a patent attorney practice, although this is mainly in London. This is contrary to most of its competitors, which usually establish patent attorneys in their German offices.

European patent team size: 41 lawyers (including 5 patent attorneys)

Patent attorney practice: Amsterdam, London

Leading individuals: Bas Berghuis van Woortman, Mattie de Koning (Amsterdam); Peter Meyer (Düsseldorf), Michael Burdon, Andrew Hutchinson, Scott Parker (London), Marina Cousté (Paris). Patent attorneys: Kevin Cordina (London)

Important cross-border clients: Frequent litigation for Bayer Healthcare, Samsung Bioepis and Samsung Electronics.

Significant clients in recent cross-border disputes: Samsung Bioepis (defendant) against AbbVie on biosimilar version of Humira; Boston Scientific (claimant) on multi-jurisdictional dispute against Edwards Lifesciences on transcatheter aortic replacement technology; Eli Lilly (claimant) against MSD on UK revocation actions as part of FTO strategy for its biologic drug pipeline; Gilead (defendant) against four genetics companies on revocation of SPC for Truvada; Hewlett Packard (claimant) against various infringers over laser printing technology; Samsung Electronics (defendant) against DTS over mobile payment and security technology; ArcelorMittal (defendant) against Tata Steel over coated steel.


Taylor Wessing

European presence and strategy: Taylor Wessing continues to strengthen its pan-European cross-border offering, with a strong presence in London, Munich and Düsseldorf. Further to well-positioned teams in Amsterdam and Eindhoven, the firm also has small offerings in Brussels and Paris. In France, the patent team’s visibility is lower than some of its main European competitors, for example Hogan Lovells and Bird & Bird.

Europe's patent market

Taylor Wessing, JUVE Patent rankings

But in comparison to market-leading practices with multiple offices, Taylor Wessing is seen less often representing key clients in pan-European disputes.  In litigating for mobile communication company Asus in the Netherlands, UK and Germany, the practice takes an important step towards redressing its historic emphasis on pharmaceutical cases. This is despite major competitors being actively involved in cases of this calibre for years.

Taylor Wessing’s offices are not fully integrated. Its teams develop joint work between offices less frequently than some of the market leaders. Nevertheless, the patent team’s set-up in all major jurisdictions is a good base for more cross-border work. However, unlike Bird & Bird, Hogan Lovells and other firms, Taylor Wessing has not yet built up its own patent attorney practice.

European patent team size: 49 lawyers

Patent attorney practice: None

Leading individuals: Judith Krens (Amsterdam); Christoph de Coster, Gisbert Hohagen, Dietrich Kamlah, Christian Lederer (Munich); Simon Cohen, Michael Washbrook (London)

Important cross-border clients: Frequent litigation for Abbott, Asus, Mylan, Nichia, Pfizer/Hospira.

Significant clients in recent cross-border disputes: Abbott (claimant) against Edwards Lifesciences regarding medical device products; Pfizer (claimant) against Hoffmann-La Roche over bevacizumab; Mylan (defendant) against Warner Lambert over pregabalin; Hexal/Sandoz against Eli Lilly over pemetrexed; Mylan (claimant) against ICOS and Eli Lilly in revocation case over tadalafil; Accord and Mylan (claimants) against Gilead concerning SPC for tadalafil; Asus (defendant) against Philips in infringement and revocation case over SEP and FRAND; Oppo (defendant) against Sisvel and Mitsubishi Electronics (both over mobile communications).


Read also:
The European patent firms vying for pole position
Europe’s leading national IP boutiques, and the JUVE Patent research method