Switzerland

Praise continues to be lavished on the Federal Patent Court, which regularly sews up proceedings in 12 to 18 months. Practitioners are confident that this should compare favourably to the forthcoming Unified Patent Court and that activity in Switzerland will continue apace. Subsequent to a significant Federal Supreme Court decision in late 2016, however, the doctrine of equivalents is currently a murky issue, due to doubt over how the previously established three-point test should be interpreted. This will be monitored closely in 2017.

Firms: prosecution

Highly recommended
98
E Blum & Co AG
Isler & Pedrazzini AG
Schaad Balass Menzl & Partner AG
Recommended
H
Frei Patent Attorneys
Keller & Partner
ThomannFischer
Troesch Scheidegger Werner AG

Firms: transactions

H
Bär & Karrer
FRORIEP
Lenz & Staehelin
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
Schellenberg Wittmer
Walder Wyss Ltd

Firms: litigation

2
FMP Fuhrer Marbach & Partners
Schellenberg Wittmer
Troller Hitz Troller
3
FRORIEP
Kasser Schlosser Attorneys at Law
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
Walder Wyss Ltd
Bär & Karrer
When it comes to monetising patent portfolios, Bär & Karrer is a rock-solid choice. The firm’s wealth of commercial experience has given it a real affinity for the fine print of lucrative licensing contracts and technology transfer agreements, many of which are cross-border in nature. It knows pharmaceuticals like the back of its hand and straightforward, hands-on interaction and forward-thinking strategy are hallmarks of its premium service. Leading the IP team, transactional hotshot Markus Wang “expertly finds solutions at an early stage. He always keeps the business perspective in mind and is a pleasure to work with”. Navigating complex life sciences regulations is a walk in the park for him.
E Blum & Co AG
“E Blum & Co is one of the most proficient patent attorney firms in Switzerland. It provides excellent support and has a lot of very experienced individuals on board.” Established in 1878, it has a rich history, but it knows that past glories won’t sustain client relationships in what is an intensely competitive environment; as such, it continually refreshes its offering to make it more cost effective and comprehensive. Its practitioners hold degrees in all major scientific and technical fields, meaning that no discipline is beyond its grasp. Serving as a judge at the Federal Patent Court, the “extremely intelligent” Kurt Sutter is “very strong in mechanical matters; he analyses everything until he totally understands the issues at stake”. Electrical engineering aficionado Rainer Schalch also has judicial experience and thus appreciates what will and won’t fly in the courtroom. Regula Rüedi brings chemistry expertise to the table, matched with a complete command of supplementary protection certificate issues.
FMP Fuhrer Marbach & Partners
The hard-hitting litigation team at Fuhrer Marbach relishes complex cases involving any invention going, from mechanics to pharmaceuticals. Its “customer-oriented, cost-effective” ethos is borne out by its location: based in Bern, it is within easy reach of key administrative bodies and benefits from lower rent and other operational costs – savings that it passes on to clients. The first choice for many, Peter Widmer is “one of the leading patent practitioners around. He offers excellent legal insight and is really diligent”. Nearly 30 years of enforcement experience have given him a keen sense of what will swing a case.
Frei Patent Attorneys
The filing and portfolio management counsel dispensed at Frei is always commercially expedient and practically far-sighted. Its seasoned patent attorneys have advanced qualifications in the natural or technical sciences and abundant experience before the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI). The tireless Peter Walser is a “serious worker who never beats around the bush; he remains focused on what is at stake”.
FRORIEP
Froriep’s entrepreneurial spirit shines through in everything it does. Its passionate practitioners make it their business to get to grips with the ins and outs of clients’ industries, and their advice comes infused with this complementary insight. This approach is certainly working, as numerous big-ticket deals and crucial court verdicts bear their fingerprints. Managing partner Nicola Benz provides this thoroughness and dedication to start-ups and household names alike, and is at her best on life sciences transactions. With 10 patent attorneys registered at the IPI and authorised to appear before the European Patent Office (EPO), Hepp Wenger Ryffel has the muscle to advise companies across the technological spectrum and makes light work of its prodigious workload. Within this, pharmaceutical and medical device mandates feature prominently; the railway industry is also fast becoming a rich source of instructions. A laser commercial focus and close client care characterise its service; a high priority is placed on face-to-face contact. Martin Wilming is an influential figure on the marketplace; he runs a popular patent litigation blog which reports on Federal Patent Court case law. EPO opposition and appeal proceedings are his bread and butter. Like Wilming, Andreas Welch knows all there is to know about organic chemistry; having worked for a large pharmaceutical entity, he has invaluable in-house experience. Christoph Müller, meanwhile, excels at devising uniquely tailored strategies for medical devices start-ups. When clients in the mechanical engineering field need someone to file their applications, and to do so with painstaking attention to detail, they reach out to the meticulous René Wenger. Wider marketing knowledge and exceptional foresight make him the full package. The creative, industrious and commercially minded IP team at Homburger leads clients to victory in the courtroom time and again; however, it has a real instinct for when it is in the client’s best interests to switch tactics to settlement negotiation. Licensing contracts are reviewed with hawkish attention until flawless. Because the firm invests significant time and energy in the professional development of new recruits, there is a deep well of talent at associate level and plenty of hands on deck to assist when the going gets tough. Still, the pulling power of a thought leader cannot be understated and the team has that in the form of Andri Hess. “He is one of the top practitioners in Switzerland – the first person that most people in the market would turn to. You can tell that he is really interested in cases because he is personally involved in everything. Plus, lawyers normally team up with patent attorneys, but he does the technical and legal parts easily by himself. His knowledge is seriously impressive. He is very experienced and always eager to explore unorthodox ideas.” Leading the IP and IT practice, Georg Rauber is another client magnet; he has served as president of the Zurich Bar Association, is extremely well connected and is always au fait with the latest legal developments. Senior counsel at the firm, luminary Werner Stieger is a revered practitioner who has shown countless up-and-coming patent practitioners the ropes, and whom Hess and Rauber still admire.
Isler & Pedrazzini AG
European patents are obtained swiftly and with minimal fuss by Isler & Pedrazzini’s cosmopolitan, outward-looking patent pros. The profusion of technical expertise on offer encompasses everything from electronics through chemistry to pharmaceuticals, with considerable activity now taking place in the latter space. This is supplemented by piercing insight into litigation and arbitration which is almost unmatched among Swiss patent attorney firms, thanks to the presence of Tobias Bremi and Natalia Clerc, who both serve as judges at the Federal Patent Court in St Gallen. Their sixth sense for what will survive a courtroom assault enables them to draft 24-carat applications. “Bremi is indisputably one of the best patent attorneys around. He has a very deep understanding of intellectual property and is a fast thinker. His role at the Federal Patent Court has made him extremely well known in the market.” A stint in the R&D department of Haas Laser Systems has given Clerc a fine-grained understanding of what ingenious innovation in the physics realm looks like. Also mining this rich seam is managing partner Michael Liebetanz, a proactive professional with lightning-fast response times.
Kasser Schlosser Attorneys at Law
The compact Kasser Schlosser is an agile operator on the Swiss IP enforcement scene. Based in Lausanne, it is a stellar choice for French-speaking players seeking hands-on, pragmatic and cost-conscious counsel. Ralph Schlosser’s role as a deputy judge at the Federal Patent Court has done much to bolster the firm’s reputation, as well as enhancing his own courtroom finesse: “He is a fantastic lawyer with strong insight into the law and current developments; his conscientiousness is very impressive.”
Keller & Partner
“When you receive a reply from Keller & Partner, you can be sure that it will be completely to the point and extremely well substantiated. It is a fantastic firm that conducts meticulous analysis.” Its thoughtful practitioners immerse themselves in clients’ business so as to fully understand the potential pros and cons of different options when exploiting patent portfolios; producing regular situation reports, they are always one step ahead and ready to respond to emergencies with strategic realignments where necessary. Scientific whizz Philipp Rüfenacht puts his background in high-energy physics to good use assisting clients in the mechanical engineering and robotics fields, among others.
Lenz & Staehelin
The 200 lawyers at Lenz & Staehelin pool their knowledge to ensure that every client receives a tailored service which puts their long-term business interests front and centre. “It is one of the dominant firms in Switzerland – one that you regularly encounter in big pharmaceutical cases. Licensing matters are dealt with effectively too.” Thanks to a string of unforgettable courtroom performances, Thierry Calame is a name familiar to everyone in the Swiss IP space: “He is one of the best lawyers around – a brilliant practitioner with loads of experience.” The fleet-footed Lara Dorigo cuts straight to the chase on both litigation and licensing briefs; she has a knack for instantly teasing out the salient issues at hand and, like Calame, is a pharmaceuticals hotshot. Handling about one-quarter of all cases before the Federal Patent Court, Meyerlustenberger Lachenal is a contentious force to be reckoned with. For a full-service firm, its offering is uniquely oriented towards intellectual property and it has an impressive command of the pharmaceutical space in particular. Thanks to notable bench strength across the board, the right talent can be assembled for every client and responsiveness never slips. In Michael Ritscher and Simon Holzer, it has two sharpshooting litigators. Contemporaries acknowledge Ritscher as “absolutely one of the top guys. He has a lot of experience and very deep knowledge of IP law”. The “fantastic” Holzer “knows the facts inside out and fights tooth and nail for his clients”. He serves as a judge at the Federal Patent Court, along with Mark Schweizer, who “has tremendous theoretical knowledge, but is always practical – and keen to find a settlement if possible. He cares about his clients rather than simply his fees, which is fantastic”.
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
Litigating valuable European patents and monetising extensive portfolios are all in a day’s work for Pestalozzi; whenever a threat or opportunity arises, the dynamic firm is quick off the blocks to assist its clients. Lately it has also been busy building up its alternative dispute resolution capabilities and ensuring it is au courant with digital developments in the life sciences space. Leading the practice, Lorenza Ferrari Hofer is a polyglot with significant in-house experience, having worked for a major Swiss watch manufacturer. Her combination of commercial wisdom and technical brilliance makes her a fine choice for multinationals and research institutes alike. Established in 2001, Rentsch was the first firm in Switzerland to bring attorneys at law and patent attorneys together under the same roof. A prolific prosecutor, it is one of the country’s top filers under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, but it brings potent firepower to the courtroom too. With close professional contacts in over 80 jurisdictions, it can effortlessly coordinate multi-jurisdictional matters. For prosecution, Louis Lagler, Dany Vogel and Alfred Köpf are all prime picks. President of the Association of Swiss Patent and Trademark Attorneys, Lagler is one of the firm’s founding partners and a true IP doyen; his mechanical engineering prowess is second to none. Vogel brings electrical engineering expertise to the table, while Köpf knows biotechnology and organic chemistry like the back of his hand. When it comes to full-blooded enforcement, Christian Hilti and Demian Stauber step up to the plate. “Hilti is certainly in the first league of IP practitioners – a proficient, experienced and careful litigator.” The star of the “excellent” Stauber is on the ascendant: “He is efficient, effective and a pleasure to work with because of his intelligent wit.”
Schaad Balass Menzl & Partner AG
The technically proficient, nimble patent attorneys at Schaad Balass Menzl file with aplomb and provide incisive freedom-to-operate counsel. The team has forged a striking number of loyal long-term relationships, thanks to its unstinting customer care; practitioners seek to understand clients’ needs so well that problems they might not even have been alive to can be easily sidestepped. Pharmaceuticals companies make a beeline to Cornelia Hoffmann; she is someone “you can always discuss things openly with – it’s fantastic working with her”. Christoph Fraefel is a biochemistry sage who is never less than comfortable with the technical minutiae of cutting-edge applications.
Schellenberg Wittmer
Run your eyes down a list of recent Federal Patent Court decisions and the names of Andrea Mondini and Philipp Groz, from Schellenberg Wittmer’s redoubtable patent enforcement practice, crop up with remarkable frequency. Just one example is the pair’s successful representation of Mepha Pharma in a case against Merck Sharp & Dohme. It is no surprise that they were chosen to write the Swiss chapter for the guide Global Patent Litigation – How and Where to Win. A “leading litigator in Swiss intellectual property”, Mondini is a “great team player who always has clients’ best interests in mind”. Similarly, the “excellent” Groz is a dream to work with, thanks to his responsiveness and diverse skillset. “They are also fantastic mediators and arbitrators who know how to find economical solutions” – abilities which have served them well when helping pharmaceutical companies to broker patent licensing agreements.
ThomannFischer
Start-ups and small to medium-sized enterprises seeking a vibrant outfit that keeps budgets in mind without skimping on service should have ThomannFischer on speed dial. Drawing on support from the firm’s respected corporate and contract law practices, the patent squad ensures that all angles of applications are considered and has a finely honed instinct for when – and when not – to litigate. Fabian Leimgruber is a business-minded electronics and telecommunication maven with a nuanced understanding of IP protection in Asia. All-rounder Daniel Plüss has his finger firmly on the IP pulse and is a fine choice for clients seeking a single contact for all their IP needs.
Troesch Scheidegger Werner AG
Troesch Scheidegger Werner consistently delivers pragmatic, technically watertight patent prosecution counsel on time and on budget. It has the scientific chops to handle mandates from all industries and a streamlined online filing system that helps keep clients’ own administration costs down. Beloved by electronics companies, Jacques Troesch combines deep subject-matter expertise with sound business sense.
Troller Hitz Troller
One-stop shopping is the order of the day at Troller Hitz Troller, whose cradle-to-grave offering has all facets of intellectual property on lock. Seamless coordination between its two offices in Bern and Lucerne and a broad network of foreign associates only serve to sweeten the deal for its prestigious clientele. “A first-class litigator”, Patrick Troller is the beating heart of the firm’s robust enforcement division. The silver-tongued advocate knows how to win round even the most sceptical judges.
Walder Wyss Ltd
With boots on the ground in Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Berne, Lausanne and Lugano, Walder Wyss has an expansive footprint across the country, making it uniquely equipped to handle both skirmishes in regional courts and must-win battles before the Federal Patent Court. The January 2017 arrival of Roger Staub brought significant design patent expertise to the practice; he is well known for his steadfast representation of companies in the luxury goods space. Like Staub, Stefano Codoni straddles the contentious/non-contentious divide without breaking a sweat. Keeping his cool even when the temperature begins to rise around him, Codoni is a masterly arbitrator who can serve clients in German, French, English and Italian. Helming the IP, IT and competition practice, Markus Frick is a versatile player and the dexterous architect of any number of complex cross-border cases.

Luminaries

Werner Stieger - Homburger AG

Individuals: transactions

Nicola Benz - FRORIEP
Mathis Berger - Nater Dallafior Rechtsanwälte
Thierry Calame - Lenz & Staehelin
Stefano Codoni - Walder Wyss Ltd
Lorenza Ferrari Hofer - Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
Andri Hess - Homburger AG
Stefan Kohler - Vischer
Georg Rauber - Homburger AG
Roger Staub - Walder Wyss Ltd
Markus Wang - Bär & Karrer

Individuals: prosecution

Highly recommended
Tobias Bremi - Isler & Pedrazzini AG
Christoph Müller - Hepp Wenger Ryffel AG
Rainer Schalch - E Blum & Co AG
Kurt Sutter - E Blum & Co AG
Peter Walser - Frei Patent Attorneys
Recommended
Natalia Clerc - Isler & Pedrazzini AG
Christoph Fraefel - Schaad Balass Menzl & Partner AG
Cornelia Hoffmann - Schaad Balass Menzl & Partner AG
Alfred Köpf - Rentsch Partner Ltd
Louis Lagler - Rentsch Partner Ltd
Fabian Leimgruber - ThomannFischer
Michael Liebetanz - Isler & Pedrazzini AG
Regula Rüedi - E Blum & Co AG
Philipp Rüfenacht - Keller & Partner
Jacques J Troesch - Troesch Scheidegger Werner AG
Dany Vogel - Rentsch Partner Ltd
Andreas Welch - Hepp Wenger Ryffel AG
René Wenger - Hepp Wenger Ryffel AG
Martin Wilming - Hepp Wenger Ryffel AG

Individuals: litigation

Thierry Calame - Lenz & Staehelin
Andri Hess - Homburger AG
Christian Hilti - Rentsch Partner Ltd
Simon Holzer - Meyerlustenberger Lachenal
Andrea Mondini - Schellenberg Wittmer
Michael Ritscher - Meyerlustenberger Lachenal
Ralph Schlosser - Kasser Schlosser Attorneys at Law
Patrick Troller - Troller Hitz Troller
Robert G Briner - CMS von Erlach Poncet Ltd
Philipp Groz - Schellenberg Wittmer
Mark Schweizer - Meyerlustenberger Lachenal
Roger Staub - Walder Wyss Ltd
Demian Stauber - Rentsch Partner Ltd
Peter Widmer - FMP Fuhrer Marbach & Partners
Christoph Willi - Streichenberg Attorneys at Law
Stefano Codoni - Walder Wyss Ltd
Lara Dorigo - Lenz & Staehelin
Lorenza Ferrari Hofer - Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
Markus Frick - Walder Wyss Ltd
Stefan Kohler - Vischer
Laurent Muhlstein - Junod Muhlstein Lévy & Puder
Daniel Plüss - ThomannFischer
Georg Rauber - Homburger AG
Close

Register for more free content

  • Read more IAM blogs and articles
  • Receive the editor's weekly review by email
Register now  
Issue 86