Top 10 Law Firms in Europe with Proficient Intellectual Property

Top 10 Law Firms in Europe with Proficient Intellectual Property

Preface

Intellectual Property is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect. There are many types of intellectual property, and some countries recognize more the others. The most well-known types are copyrights, patents, trademarks and trade secrets. As a business owner, you manage many assets on a daily basis, but you may be overlooking an important one, intellectual property. Basically, your intellectual property includes the intangible assets you create for your business, such as names, designs and automated processes. And just like tangible possessions, your intellectual property needs to be monitored and protected.

Intellectual property refers to an intangible property rights which is enjoyed by law after the engagement in intellectual creative conducts, which cover a range of intangible property rights: patent, copyrights, and trademark, design right and an indication of the original. Europe Union regulates the range of the law, including three different interdependent serious legislation, primary and secondary legislation, and law in cases.

The empty area regulated by individual national members is not in the coverage of EU law. Based on the EU treaties, EU members each have the right to transfer and implement the discretion of EU law. Therefore, compare to conducting the application to the separate countries in EU, it harbors more advantages to apply for the European patent office when seeking to obtain more extensive patent protection. That is to say, at each signatory of the Convention of European Patent, the holder who are granted the patent is given the equivalent right to the national patent of the countries.

Intellectual Property Rights protect a firm’s intangible assets, allowing enterprises to profit from their creative and broadly innovative activities. Intangible assets account for more than half the value of companies and their importance is growing. In a world where EU companies compete more on innovation, creativity and quality than on price, intellectual property is a powerful tool for EU enterprises to become more competitive. The commission has designed a legal framework and intellectual property system that offer incentives for EU companies to invest in the provision of goods and services with high standards of quality, innovation, design and creativity.

Regarding with Intellectual Property, there are many outstanding European law firms who provide the best services. So, it was very difficult to decide who the top are then. But, according to the statistics, the following are the best European law firms regarding with Intellectual Property.

 

  1. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP is one of the largest and most prestigious multinational law firms in the world especially intellectual property. Headquarter is situated in London since 1743. Its origins lie in the early 18th century, when it was appointed solicitor to the Bank of England, which it continues to advise today.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP is a member of the Magic Circle of elite British law firms, the oldest firm within the Magic Circle, and the oldest international law firm in the world. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer was created in 2000 when UK based Freshfields merged with the two law firms, Germany based Deringer, Tessin, Herrmann, and Sedemund and Germany-and-Austria-based Bruckhaus, Westrick, Heller, Lober.

As for Intellectual Property, they combine the knowledge, experience and energy of the whole firm to solve the biggest global organization’s most complex challenges, wherever and whenever they arise. Whenever it’s entering new markets, defending corporate reputation or managing multijurisdictional regulation, they are renowned for breaking new legal ground to help their clients go further with their intellectual property.

Regarding with intellectual property, they are one partnership across the world, sharing the risk and rewards of their business and with an over-riding duty to bequeath the firm in better shape than they inherited it.

 

  1. Garrigues

Garrigues is a law firm with offices in Spain, Portugal, London, New York and 9 other countries. It was founded in 1941. The firm has experience in a wide range of fields and industries, from traditional practice areas to the newest legal fields especially intellectual property. As of July 2015, Garrigues was the second largest law firm in turnover in Continental Europe.

Garrigues was arguably the first Spanish law firm to really begin to internationalize. It created a global network known as the Club de Abogados (Lawyers’ Club) in the 1980s to give it access to like-minded firms in other countries. The major turning point for Garrigues came in 1997 when it merged with the Spanish tax and legal arm of audit company Arthur Andersen. The merger was successful with headcount doubling and turnover rising 130 percent in just five years.

Garrigues was founded in 1941 as a result of the merger of two separate law firms managed by the brothers Joaquin and Antonio Garrigue Diaz-Canabate. Antonio Garrigues Walker joined the family firm in 1954 and took over the reins as a chairman eight years later, following his father’s posting as Spanish Ambassador to the US. The firm then began to take shape as an institutional organization, moving towards the partnership-type model typical of English-speaking countries, in which firms are collectively owned by their professionals according to merit and length of service.

For Garrigues, the seventies marked the beginning of the firm’s considerable reputation among foreign companies starting to train their sights on Spain, looking to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the country’s new democratic system. Indeed, the firm’s monopoly in the  field of foreign investment advisory services was such that, for some time, Henry Ford was under the misapprehension that Garrigues must be some type of Spanish tax, since a Garrigues fee was an ever-present item in the account of the US companies setting foot on Spanish soil. Alongside Ford, other noteworthy clients included IBM, Philip Morris, Hewlett-Packard and Avon. A key part of this success was without doubt the Garrigues New York office, which opened in 1973 and was the first law firm to open for business in the Big Apple.

It was followed in the eighties by the Brussels office (the new center for the firm’s dealings with Europe) and the creation of the Club de Abogados, providing Garrigues with an extraordinary international network under agreements forged with firms from Latin America, Europe and Japan.

  1. Fidal

Fidal is a French law Firm which remains an anomaly among the large European firms, although it shares commonalities with Garrigues and Loyens and Loeff through a strong background in tax work.

The firm was originally founded in Grenoble in 1923 as a tax practice known as “The Fiduaciary of France” and moved into Pairs in 1924. Rapid expansion meant Fidal had 24 offices already by 1928 and it added law to its offering in 1933. Fidal started internationalizing early through offices in francophone North Africa, and bolted on the French arm of international tax practice Peat Marwick in 1986, a year before Peat Marick and accountancy firm KMG merged to form KPMG. Fidal would remain closely linked with KPMG for many years.

In 1991, a legislative change merged the profesions of ‘avocat’ and ‘conseil jurisdiue’ – similar to the UK’s solicitor and barrier demominations – and Fidal promptly badged itself as “France’s first law firm”.

Fidal is present across France with more than 90 offices scattered over the country and thousands of clients – although it does not normally provide a list of its key clientele. Tax continues to bring in the bulk of the law firm’s revenue. Partners are on a modified lockstep with a heavy salaried element. Around half of all Fidal’s lawyers are partners although less than half of the partnership is in the equity.

In terms of headcount, Fidal is the largest law firm in Europe by a considerable margin, employing over 2,300 people. Fidal’s leadership consists of an executive committee which, since 2012, has been presided over by director-general Regis Lassabe and President Yves de Sevin, a tax partner. Both have been members of the executive since 2008 and were elected to their current roles in 2018 for a two-year term.

 

  1. Loyens and Loeff

Loyens and Loeff is the third of the European big three law firms with a substantial tax practice. It was formed in 2000 when tax advisers Loyens and Volkmaars and a chunk of law firm Loeff Claeys Verbeke merged, and the firm today still has a large number of non-lawyer tax advisers. In total, around a quarter of fee-eraners focus on tax law or advice, and also in intellectual property.

Further back, the firm traces its history to its foundation as separate practices in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Legacy Loyens and Volkmaars grew internationally while legacy Loeff Claeys did not, but the combined firm now has offices in eight jurisdictions outside the Bunelux region where it is headquartered.

Zurich was the most recent launch in 2015 and the office is rapidly growing. Loyens and Loeff’s revenue and headcount have been up and down in recent years, hitting a low in 2014 before rising in 2015, dipping slightly in 2016 and bouncing back in 2017 and 2018. Nevertheless, it remains one of the largest independent European firms by both headcount and revenue.

While tax is Loyens and Loeff’s beggest practice area, corporate follows close behind especially intellectual property. The firm is however, full-service with smaller finance, litigation and real estate teams too. Loyens and Loeff has seven offices outside the Benelux region in addition to three Dutch bases, Brussels and Luxembourg. It is not a member of any network.

Loyens and Loeff is led by an executive board which currently consists of managing partner Bram Linnartz and board members Marieke Bakker and Thierry Charon. The trio were elected in 2018 for a two-year term. Linnartz is in his first term as managing partner, replacing Willem Jarisma who served two terms. Jarigsma is now based in Loyens’ London office. Loyens and Loeff’s board members are drawn from both its legal and tax adviser cohort. It also has non-executive directors sitting alongside the executive in an eight-person, one-tier model.

 

  1. Hengeler Mueller

Hengeler Mueller is one of the most traditional law firms among the top ten European law firms, and its current form was formed when Hengeler Kurth Wirtz and Mueller Weitzel Weisner merged. Hengeler Mueller remains a conservative firm focused on top-end work. It hires rarely and loses partners rarely, although several groups of younger lawyers have in the past quit to set up boutiques.

The firm is Slaughter and May’s German best friend and has been closely linked to the ‘best friends’ group for years. It does have a small number of foreign offices, most recently launching in Shanghai in 2013 to add to representative bases in Brussels and London.

Hengeler Mueller has one of Europe’s longest pure locksteps at 12 years, with no plans to move away from the structure. It has been making more efforts to increase its female partner numbers in recent years but the number of women in the partnership remains woefully low at under 10 percent, although eight female partners now is substantially better than just three in 2013.

Hengeler Mueller advises and presents clients in all fields of intellectual property and information technology law. He has been especially involved in patent litigation, but has also undertaken trademark and copyright litigation, as well as disputes regarding unfair competition in intellectual property.

 

  1. Cuatrecasas Goncalves Pereira

The second of three Iberian law firms in the European top 10, Cuatrecacas Goncalves Pereira has much like its peers evolved out of a family run firm into a major international player with offices around the world. The firm was founded in 1917 by Emilio Cuatrecasas Buuet and was led by a Cuatrecasas for the best part of a century. Cuatecasas Buquet’s son Pere Cuatrecasas Sabata succeeded his father and was in turn succeeded by his son, also Emilio.

After the Portuguese market opened up to foreign firms in 2001, Cuatrecasas became the first Spanish Law firm to find a Portuguese merger partner. It tied up with best friend Goncalves Pereira Castelo Branco and Associados in 2003, making the critical decision of adding “Goncalves Pereira” to its branding – although Portuguese managing partner Manuel Castelo Branco quit the fim six years later to pursue other projects.

Like the larger Garrigues, Cuatrecasas Goncalves Pereira has expanded beyond Iberia too. It has 11 offices outside Iberia, with a focus on Latin America, Africa and Asia.

 

  1. Uria Menendez

Slaughter and May’s Iberian best friend Uria Menendez weathered the financial crisis relatively well, its relative conservatism compared to some of its more aggressive local rivals paying off with consistent turnover growth in the last few years after a dip between 2012 and 2013.

In common with the other big Spanish Law firms, Uria Menendez family connections remain strong with the last surviving founding partner Aurelio Menendez Menendez passing away in early 2018. That said, it has been some time since Uria Menendez had a founder’s family member in an active management position.

The firm was founded in 1946 by Rodrigo Uria Gonzalez and Uria gonzalez’s son Rodrigo Uria Meruendano, joined some 30 years later and the firm was renamed Uria Menendez at that time.

Expansion began in the last 1980s, first with the launch of a Barcelona office and then in 1990 with a local merger and the launch of Brussels and New York offices. A couple of years later, Uria Manendez also opened in London, and continued to expand in the 1990s with openings in Valencia, Lisbon and Sao Paulo and a string of associations with Lain American firms.

The most significant move was the 2004 merger with Portugal’s Vasconcelos, F. Sa Carneiro, Fontes and Associados, turning the firm into a major Iberian legal player rather than purely a Spanish law firm. Further expansion in Portugal came in 2010 through a merger with Proenca de Carvalho and Associados.

In recent years, Uria Menendez has continued its growth in Latin America, notably taking a third stake in a cross-border merger in 2015 when Philippi Prietocarrizosa and Uria was formed. Much of the firm’s revenue – around half – is generated by its large corporate team and roles on the biggest M&A deals is Uria’s bread and butter. However, it does also advise on litigation, tax and employment.

Similar to most of its European best friends, Uria Menendez runs a pure lockstep structure. The firm employs around 950 staff and just over 600 lawyers. In 2005, Uria Menendez named Jose Maria Segovia and Luis de Carlos as joint managing partners. In 2011, the law firm moved to a more Anglo-Saxon model, with Segovia becoming senior partner and de Carlos sole managing partner.

Segovia and de Carlos replaced Uria Meruendano in the management role and the latter remained president of the firm until his sudden death in 2007 from a heart attack, aged only 66. In June, 2019, Uria announced a change in management, effective from 1st January, 2019. De Carlos took over from Segovia as senior partner, while corporate partner Salvador Sanchez- Teran was named managing partner.

 

  1. Rodi and Partner

Podi and Partner does not fit the same profile as most of the other large European law firms especially intellectual property. It is a sizeable multidisciplinary operation worldwide, with a focus on Europe in the field of intellectual property in particular, headquartered in Germany.

The firm’s legal arm generates just over half the global turnover of the combined legal, tax, intellectual property and audit operations despite having less than half of Rodi’s total workforce. Just under 900 staff work in the legal division, out of 4500 globally, although naturally the law firm benefits from the economies of scale derived from being part of such a large operation.

However, Rodi and Partner was founded as a legal practice, by Bernd Rodi in Nuremberg in 1977. It was the first West German firm to open in East Germany as the Iron Curtain fell and it began expanding eastwards soon after, first in Russia and then Asia in intellectual property and other cases.

Similar to Fidal, Rodi and Partner has a large tax practice and this remains the main revenue driver for the legal side of the business in intellectual property. Corporate, real estate law and intellectual property laws are also important for the firm. Globally, Rodi and Partner now has 108 offices, including 24 in Germany, although legal is not on offer in all of these locations. That said, its multidisciplinary offering is crucial to the firm’s strategy and core to how it works. It is not part of any law firm networks.

Rodi and Partner has six managing partners, with the board currently led by Bernd Rodi’s son Christian. The other five members of the board are a mixture of tax advisers and lawyers, all based in Germany despite the firm’s global footprint.

 

  1. BonelliErede

A tripartite merger in 1999 wass the foundation of the law firm now branded BonelliErede and until a couple of years ago known more formally as Bonelli Erede Pappalardo. The three small legacy practices – Bonelli e Associati in Genoa, Erede e Associati in Milan, and Pappalado e Associati in Brussels – teamed up to become of Italy’s largest firms.

Although similar in terms of staff numbers of several of its competitors, the high-end nature of BonelliErede’s work means that The Lawyer European 100 estimate of its turnover puts it in the top 10 law firms in Europe.

While the firm’s founders, Franco Bonelli, Sergio Eredea nd Aurelio Pappalardo, are still at the firm, BonelliErede has been vigorously institutonalising in the past few years. The process began in 2011 when the firm shortened its lockstep and exed junior and salaried partner positions, turning all partners into full equity.

A couple of years later managing partner Alberto Saravalle stepped down after two three-year terms, to be replaced by tax and transfer pricing head Stefano Simontachi and employment head Marcello GGiustiniani as co-managing partners. The governance restructure was accompanied by another shake-up to remuneration, with more emphasis placed on contribution, and efforts to make Bonelli’s career paths more transparent.

The firm is part of Slaughter and May’s best friends group, working closely with the other firms on cross-border deals. Its own international presence outside Italy was historically limited but in 2016 and 2017, it has opened in Ethiopia, Egypt and Dubai – the first two offices through local associations.

Corporate work generates the largest proporting of BonelliErede’s revenue, about 44 percent. The law firm’s two managing partners have differing responsibilities, with Simontacchi responsible for strategic development and Giustiniani focusing on internal affairs.

An international committee and business development committee reports to Simontacchi, while committees focusing on IT, employee remuneration, partner’s remuneration and partnership report to Giustiniano. A maximum of one board member can sit on each committee.

 

  1. Noerr

Noerr has undergone one of the most significant transformations of any of the big European independent law firms in the past few years, moving from being a solid mid-tier player to challenging on large cross-border deals. However, even before this strategic shift, Noerr was arguably one of the more dynamic German law firms. Throughout the 1990s, it expanded across Eastern Europe and followed up with offices in New York in 2005, London in 2010, and IP-focused base in Alicante in 2011 and a Brussels office in 2014.

In the same period since 1989, Noerr has opened in Berlin, Dresden, Dusseldorf and most recently Hamburg to add to its founding offices in Frankfurt and Munich. It has also consolidated some of those offices, for example spinning out its Kiev base in 2013 into an independent operation.

The firm grew steadily throughout the first decade of the millennium, but growth has slowed slightly in recent years. Although Noerr is committed to its Eastern European presence the network brings in less than 10 percent of its revenue.

The focus on modernization is continuing with the firm recently seeking to position itself as a key adviser to digital businesses. A trophy client is German internet company Rocket, which began as a small start-up and is now valued at around 3.5 billion USD. Away from its Eastern European offices, Noerr is the German member of network Lex Mundi and works regularly with many of the UK and US firms absent from its home jurisdiction.

Noerr now employs nearly 1000 staff and lawyers. The firm’s co-managing partners are known as ‘speakers’ and incumbents Tobias Burgers and Alexander Ritvay were elected in 2013. For Burgers, it was a re-election, while Ritvay replaced Dieter Schenk. The two work closely together, sharing their duties.

Schenk was stepping down after 15 years in charge at firm. Until 2005, his co-managing partner was Ronald Frohne, who moved to New York when that office opened and was replaced by Burgers. In April 2018, Noerr announced that Burgers would step down at the end of the year. He will be replaced by compliance head Torsten Fett who will seve alongside Ritvay.

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