United Kingdom - Scotland

Scotland continues to be a hive of patent activity: the traditionally strong oil and gas industry is generating plentiful mandates on both sides of the contentious/non-contentious divide and the pace is also picking up in the life sciences. Thriving start-up and academic spin-off scenes have further expanded the potential domestic client base, while relationship building in the United States and East Asia remains crucial for incoming international work. The Brexit vote and its potential impact on the impending Unified Patent Court have also forced rights holders to revaluate their strategies.

Firms: litigation and transactions

1
Brodies LLP
2
Maclay Murray & Spens LLP
3
Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP

Firms: prosecution

1
Murgitroyd & Company
2
Alistair Hindle Associates
lincoln ip
Alistair Hindle Associates
“A leading patent boutique with an impressive scientific staff”, Alistair Hindle Associates confidently translates its technical expertise and legal intelligence into commercially meaningful protection strategies. Its services are “very clear and organised, with options and requirements clearly outlined, making decisions and responses easy”. The group is a trusted partner of academic institutions and was recently appointed to the Scottish Universities Patent Attorney Services panel of suppliers. It is also a favourite among fledgling innovators, thanks largely to the efforts of founding member Alistair Hindle; a biotechnology PhD, Hindle has enjoyed consistent success aiding start-ups and spin-offs from inception to acquisition. Joining Hindle as a director in 2016, Andrew James McGettrick “is very approachable, proficient and enjoyable to work with”; the skilled drafter has opened doors for clients in the United States, China, Japan and South Korea.
Brodies LLP
With a 12-strong IP, technology and outsourcing team, Brodies has patent litigation on lock, making it a “go-to for disputes in Scotland”. Concentrating exclusively on contentious IP work, the group is proficient in all disciplines key to the native economy, including oil and gas, pharmaceuticals and construction. “Clear, pragmatic, knowledgeable and user-friendly” duo Gill Grassie and Robert Buchan are the leading lights. Grassie’s “breadth and depth of understanding of the law is always impressive, and she has a nuanced approach to a client’s commercial needs”; while Buchan earns plaudits for his “insight, approachability and expert knowledge of the Scottish courts”. At the head of the practice is Grant Campbell, who brings over 20 years of transactional know-how to the table. Providing further support on non-contentious briefs is Shona Tennant; currently seconded to the University of St Andrews on a part-time basis to assist with complex transfer and research agreements, she “consistently provides clients with perfect feedback and advice”. In the decade since it set up shop in Scotland, HGF has developed a reputation for “superb, responsive legal advice and creative, cost-effective problem solving”. It has the necessary resources to deliver global solutions, providing worldwide patent prosecution services to Edinburgh University, energy storage innovator Sunamp and engineering company Schenck Process, among others. Oppositions and hearings at the European Patent Office (EPO) are another forte – not least thanks to the efforts of managing partner Gary Wilson. The chemistry whizz “offers a first-class service in all aspects of legal advice, value for money, commercial awareness and effective communication. He is proactive in working with clients to develop IP strategies and will actively challenge views and assumptions to reach the best patent portfolio position he can obtain”.
lincoln ip
Aberdeen-based boutique lincoln ip “provides sound technical and commercial advice” on all manner of prosecution briefs and has carved a solid niche in the oil and gas industry. Public sector institutions, start-ups and venture capitalists are among those drawn in by this agile operator’s tailored, high-quality services. Firm founder Matthew Lincoln is a former examiner at the UK Intellectual Property Office who knows exactly what it takes to get patents through to grant.
Maclay Murray & Spens LLP
Highly regarded for the quality of its commercial advice on transactional matters, business law firm Maclay Murray & Spens’ standalone IP practice is also a force to be reckoned in disputes. Headquartered in Glasgow, the firm has the market on lock, with two further Scottish offices supplemented by a London outpost. At the helm of the IP and technology group, Alison Bryce has abundant experience protecting and developing patent portfolios of all sizes and is a prime pick for complex patent commercialisation work. Clients also “feel extremely reassured” when Ross Nicol is at the table during crucial licensing agreement negotiations. Nicol is “highly professional and able to help you clearly understand some of the more complicated aspects of IP law. He is very friendly, approachable and accommodates tight timeframes that clients work to”. Dispute resolution expert Susan Snedden is the standout individual on the contentious side and one of a select few litigators to be accredited by the Law Society of Scotland as an IP specialist. An unrivalled international presence sets prosecution heavyweight Marks & Clerk apart from the pack; its three native offices dovetail neatly with 13 more across Europe, Asia and North America. The “very experienced, knowledgeable and professional” team is “well prepared, organised, efficient and brings a touch of humour, which makes working with it very enjoyable. Drafts and other written materials are prepared and distributed in a timely fashion and are always of the highest quality”. Managing partner Paul Chapman is “very impressive on biotechnology and life sciences, and is terrific when dealing with supplementary protection certificate-related issues”. Alongside Richard Gibbs and Andrew Docherty, he has been advising the University of Dundee on the full suite of prosecution issues. Glasgow office managing partner Gibbs is also an authority on the life sciences; while Docherty fronts the firm’s Aberdeen operations and has “remarkable experience handling patents relating to oil and gas technology”. Former university lecturer Campbell Newell is an astute manager of large portfolios; automotive engineering is his metier. Clients have no hesitation in recommending electronics buff David Moreland, whose astute work on Flintstone Technology’s patent portfolio recently helped to attract major investment to the company. “He clearly explains the nuances and peculiarities of patent language, and can move quickly on any matter.”
Murgitroyd & Company
Murgitroyd’s internationally focused team of over 260 IP experts is dialled in on all commercial areas, though it wins particular acclaim for its command of oil and gas technologies. Boosted by a presence in the United States and a web of European offices, it is a solid choice for rights holders with global ambitions, and has kept pace with all the latest twists and turns of the incoming unitary patent system. Seasoned campaigner Graham Murnane has been the driving force behind the growth of the firm’s EPO opposition and appeals practice; the engineering expert splits his time between Glasgow and Munich.
Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP
The practitioners at full-service titan Shepherd and Wedderburn have a flair for getting signatures on the bottom line of IP-rich transactions and collaborations, and also put in polished performances in the courtroom. They view intellectual assets through a distinctly commercial lens and can assist clients across a multitude of technical fields. Joanna Boag-Thomson is a steady hand on life sciences and food and drink mandates, and excels at shepherding high-value IP deals to close.

Individuals: prosecution

Simon Black - Black and Associates
Joanna Boag-Thomson - Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP
Seona Burnett - Vialex Ltd
Paul Chapman - Marks & Clerk LLP
Andrew Docherty - Marks & Clerk LLP
Richard Gibbs - Marks & Clerk LLP
Alistair Hindle - Alistair Hindle Associates
Matthew Lincoln - lincoln ip
Andrew James McGettrick - Alistair Hindle Associates
David Moreland - Marks & Clerk LLP
Graham Murnane - Murgitroyd & Company
Campbell Newell - Marks & Clerk LLP
Gary Wilson - HGF Ltd

Individuals: litigation and transactions

Alison Bryce - Maclay Murray & Spens LLP
Robert Buchan - Brodies LLP
Grant S Campbell - Brodies LLP
Gill Grassie - Brodies LLP
Colin Hulme - Burness Paull LLP
Ross Nicol - Maclay Murray & Spens LLP
Susan Snedden - Maclay Murray & Spens LLP
Shona Tennant - Brodies LLP
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Issue 85