The undeniable influence of technology start-ups is forcing a gradual shift in the lay of the land in Austrian intellectual property, but it is still contentious pharmaceutical work that puts the food on the table for most law firms. The rise of biosimilars and questions over second medical-use patents have prompted an increase in complex litigation cases with international repercussions. A desire among senior partners to engage directly with their clients is ingrained in the culture of Austria’s law firms, which explains why the IP scene is dominated by smaller domestic operations that offer a hands-on approach. Should the Unified Patent Court ever arrive, competition will be fierce as more savvy firms have already spent years laying the appropriate groundwork. However, for now the market is not overly troubled, with the increase in demand for licensing and transactional services ensuring that there is more than enough work to go around.
Firms: litigation and transactions
- Gassauer-Fleissner Rechtsanwälte GmbH
- GEISTWERT Rechtsanwälte
- Schwarz Schönherr Rechtsanwälte KG
- Schoenherr Attorneys at Law
- Wiltschek Rechtsanwälte
- Wolf Theiss
- Baker McKenzie - Diwok Hermann Petsche Rechtsanwälte LLP & Co KG
- Salomonowitz Horak
- Highly recommended
- Beer & Partner Patentanwälte
- Patentanwalt Kliment & Henhapel
- Puchberger & Partner Patentanwälte
- Schwarz & Partner
- SONN & PARTNER Patentanwälte
- Wildhack & Jellinek
- Haffner & Keschmann
- REDL Life Science Patent Attorneys
Baker McKenzie - Diwok Hermann Petsche Rechtsanwälte LLP & Co KG
Already accomplished in navigating the labyrinth of multi-jurisdictional patent litigation, Baker McKenzie’s Vienna office has continued to boost the strength of its patent practice. Martina Grama is a relatively recent addition which has significantly bolstered the IP team’s offering. Whether battling alongside team leader Lukas Feiler in enforcement work or taking the lead in anti-counterfeiting or transactional negotiations, she has already made herself indispensable to the group’s clientele. A young IT wizard, Feiler is “very perceptive”; his impeccable grasp of technology transfer agreements is demonstrated by his masterly handling of negotiations on behalf of Russian engineering giant Power Machines. With a line-up of highly capable attorneys, and strong ties the firm’s operations in Munich and Frankfurt, it is a natural choice for multinationals seeking staunch protection and advice.
Beer & Partner Patentanwälte
A specialist in the field of mechanical engineering and a go-to patent attorney firm for litigators, the four-strong team at Beer & Partner assists clients on every aspect of IP rights protection, delivering advice on each and every stage of the patent lifecycle from filing through to enforcement. As his peers contend, “Reinhard Hehenberger stands out; he is a pleasure to work with and a true mechanical expert”.
Gassauer-Fleissner Rechtsanwälte GmbH
“Litigation is all about experience, and Christian Gassauer-Fleissner has roughly four decades of it and he possesses an excellent track record. A brilliant strategist who is always ready to try new approaches, he is super tough, highly accurate and very dedicated to clients – the quality of his work is indisputable.” He has previously served as president of the European Patent Lawyers Association – “an office which he discharged with distinction” – and is unanimously considered among his peers, both domestic and foreign, as a “mentor and luminary”. Also highly rated is Dominik Göbel, a “wonderfully clever lawyer” who is “deeply knowledgeable, reliable and easy to cooperate with”. Whether they are working independently or as a team, great things inevitably happen. “They are skilled litigators who are quick to understand complex technical and legal problems, while keeping business goals in mind. Unafraid of breaking new legal ground, they look for creative solutions while, at the same time, being clear and pragmatic about chances of success. They are easy to approach, swift to react and turn work around in double quick time.”
“The opposite of a factory, GEISTWERT is the bespoke tailor among IP firms in Austria; it responds to your needs, delivering quality with distinction and efficiency. It is an outstanding boutique with a deeply personal approach.” The highly specialised GEISTWERT partners bring vast expertise to the fore, offer a hands-on approach and take immense pleasure from their work – all of which serves as a powerful magnet for clients. “Responsive and creative, Constantin Kletzer is definitely a top choice in Austria for intellectual property. He demonstrates a lightning-quick understanding of intricate technology next to a paramount knowledge of patent law and process. He is a market leader when it comes to the highest-profile pharmaceutical and biotechnology matters and is a sharp-minded litigator as well as an extremely friendly team player.” Rainer Schultes’s joint technical and legal background is rare for an attorney at law, accounting for his praiseworthy performances in pharmaceutical litigation. Taking the lead on a one-of-a-kind infrastructure project for the Austrian Highway Administration (ASFINAG), Juliane Messner “knows what to look for and what to take into account when structuring transactions. Her business acumen is well known among clients in the IT, telecoms and pharmaceutical fields”. Dual-qualified in Austria and Italy, she is an asset in international mandates; the firm deploys her fluency – both legally and linguistically – on its noteworthy Italian desk. Assisting Messner in steering ASFINAG through a twisted maze of patent due diligence and contractual negotiation, Alexander Schnider is driven by a fascination with technology that informs every aspect of his work. Max Mosing’s scholarly approach and expansive expertise at the intersection of science and law guarantee that he leaves no stone unturned.
Haffner & Keschmann
Haffner & Keschmann has been at the forefront of the Austrian patent market for over 60 years. Highly attuned to client demands, the team “tailors its offering to satisfy the smallest of start-ups. Where cost might be an issue, it is creative without ever sacrificing the quality associated with its name”. Marc Keschmann’s passion for mechanical engineering “drives him to explore new avenues”. He is “pragmatic and creative”, has a meticulous attention to detail and a refined ability to determine the relevant issues in a case.
Patentanwalt Kliment & Henhapel
“Kliment & Henhapel is an exceptional firm of patent attorneys and a joy to work with as co-counsel.” Drawing on six decades of experience, it knows how to prioritise an inventor’s needs, ensuring it prescribes the best course of action. The team is unfaltering in all aspects of prosecution and can offer advice throughout every stage of the lifecycle of a patent, expertly supporting clients in infringement proceedings and in obtaining supplementary protection certificates. Bernard Henhapel is an undisputed patent maestro who has been practising for 20 years and possesses a razor-sharp comprehension of mechanical engineering. He is president of the International Federation of Intellectual Property Attorneys Austria.
Puchberger & Partner Patentanwälte
Maintaining a keen eye on the international scene on behalf of a host of global admirers, Puchberger & Partner’s “superbly qualified” team tirelessly pursues the interests of its clients. Supplementing its technical know-how, it has already poached high-profile generics through its boosted pharmaceutical capacity. “A phenomenal expert in all things IT-related and excellent in other technical fields, including mechanics and electrical engineering, Andreas Gehring has an extremely deep knowledge of patent and procedural law, not often found among patent attorneys.” A candidate for best patent attorney in Austria, he calmly and ingeniously develops arguments and strategies that are far superior to those of his opponents. There is no border to his appeal, having been recently retained to act in litigation in Germany. “A pragmatic and creative problem solver, young boss Georg Puchberger has technical skills that ensure all bases are covered.” A former president of the Austrian Chamber of Patent Attorneys, Peter Puchberger also sits as a lay judge at the High Court of Vienna and his skills in contentious work are undisputed among his contemporaries.
REDL Life Science Patent Attorneys
With decades of experience behind it, REDL Life Science Patent Attorneys “do an outstanding job, excelling in biochemistry”. The team cuts straight to the heart of an issue to offer clients of all sizes straightforward and commercially focused advice, as well as a comprehensive catalogue of services and access to an unrivalled international network of associates. At the helm of the firm, founder and namesake Gerda Redl is a “top expert” in chemistry and biotechnology. Her incisive technical expertise and years spent in-house in the pharmaceutical industry have given her an empathic ability to determine the best course of action for her patrons.
The troupe at Salomonowitz Horak “demonstrates a supreme knowledge of patent law, combined with an astonishing ability to think outside the box”. The side effortlessly applies this power to complex patent litigation covering everything from life sciences to IT law. The firm maintains an esteemed position among clients and peers, and close ties to associates across the globe, so that international rights holders can rest easy knowing they have the Salomonowitz team fighting their corner. Sasha Salomonowitz is a young practitioner whose age belies his “proficiency and wisdom”, particularly when it comes to licensing and technology transfers – in which he is a seasoned expert and an in-demand lecturer.
Schoenherr Attorneys at Law
The IP squad at Schoenherr boasts an impressive pool of talent. Renowned for its expertise, it is accomplished in both contentious and non-contentious work. With “a customer-oriented approach and absolute reliability”, the firm caters to start-ups and industry titans alike. Clients flock to it in their multitudes, hoping to capitalise on its sage advice, full-service offering and excellent licensing work, in which each partner demonstrates a finely honed skill. At the head of the table, Guido Kucsko “takes time to consider the issues that really matter in a case. Proactive and responsive”, he remains a client favourite. He is a highly esteemed academic and writer on the subject of intellectual property whose contributions to the field have been cited by the Austrian Supreme Court. An IT guru and master of innovative technologies, newly promoted partner Michael Woller has stepped up to the role with vigour, taking the lead on a complex pharmaceutical litigation case with a troubled history.
Schwarz & Partner
Having assisted its clients in navigating the choppy waters of the Austrian patent scene for over 25 years, Schwarz & Partner stands out for its contentious work. Offering a comprehensive service through specialisations in both prosecution work and infringement proceedings, multiple locations and meticulous attention to detail, the team draws its strength from its wealth of experience. Each individual brings his or her own focus to the table. “A young specialist in pharmaceuticals”, Harald Nemec has achieved superstar status in the field. With years of technical and legal knowledge garnered from his time in-house, Herwig Margotti is an engineering savant. Firm founder and scientific virtuoso Albin Schwarz deploys profound wisdom of the chemistry and biotechnology fields in his capacity as a lay judge at the Commercial Court of Vienna. Andreas Pföstl has joined Schwarz from Kliment & Henhapel and brings broad scientific expertise alongside his celebrated licensing nous.
Schwarz Schönherr Rechtsanwälte KG
“Considering the small number of patent litigation cases in front of the Austrian courts every year, the constant demand for Schwarz Schönherr’s services is evidence of its outstanding reputation. A go-to for generic drug manufacturers, it is a magnet for high-profile clients who value technical knowledge, a practical approach and shrewd business acumen.” The firm’s pioneering defence of drug colossus Sandoz over its Abacavir + Lamivudine HIV treatment forced the Austrian court to assess the admissibility of a disclaimer in infringement proceedings, a question that had not been previously considered. The team impresses with “its deep legal knowledge, strategic thought, as well as a willingness to exhaust every argument. It offers precise, clear advice, always given in a language that brings the relevant issues to the point”. “If you are looking for counsel with international experience in litigation and transactional work and a strong, persuasive negotiation style, Georg Schönherr is the man to go to.” Thomas Adocker is the secretary of the Austrian Branch of the Licensing Executives Society and “has a vast comprehension of patent and process law”, and being “unafraid of gathering the advice of technical experts until he has mastered the issues, is relentless in his desire to fully understand the problem at hand”. Described as being a pleasure to work with, he is eminently capable in the life sciences domain and also counts among his successes numerous cases across the fields of information technology and mechanical engineering.
SONN & PARTNER Patentanwälte
“A favourite on the prosecution side”, SONN & Partner “is unmistakeably the right choice. Nice guys with reams of experience in representing national and international companies”, the team has earned the trust of peers and clients alike. “Taking the lead at the practice, Daniel Alge is a genius. He’s one of a kind – very highly skilled in pharmaceutical and chemistry matters and excellent to work with due to his practical approach” to defending the interest of rights holders. With hard-earned victories in opposition, nullity and cancellation proceedings before the European and Austrian patent offices, Peter Pawloy has built his reputation through his expansive knowledge of chemistry and pharmaceuticals. An icon in the world of Austrian patent law, Helmut Sonn is a “great academic”, who continues to be held in high regard as his career approaches the half-century mark.
Wildhack & Jellinek
Providing an array of patent prosecution services for a loyal clique of innovators, Wildhack & Jellinek also receives high praise for its adroit handling of pharmaceutical litigation. Frequently hand-picked as co-counsel in infringement cases, it excels in preliminary injunction proceedings. With its strengthened technical team, the firm’s astute utilisation of its stellar arsenal of resources across a broad range of fields ensures its esteemed standing. Senior partner Andreas Wildhack “has unmatched technical expertise in the areas of biotechnology and pharmaceuticals” and is “distinguished by the depth of his experience in the market and for putting the client first at all times”. A new entry to the guide, “Michael Stadler is simply the best in IT and mechanics. Fast, reliable and a pleasure to work with, he deserves his outstanding reputation”.
Wiltschek Rechtsanwälte’s remarkable pool of talent, the direct involvement of its partners and its unique specialism in IP and EU law ensure the firm’s status as a market favourite. With a cutting-edge knowledge of patent law, the outfit has recently advised innovators and generics on the fast-growing world of biosimilars. “The strongest and most experienced litigator in the field, senior partner Lothar Wiltschek is a luminary. Highly respected and supremely qualified, he will be the master until he retires. Still very active on the patent market, he’s tough in court and knows all the tricks.” Opponents relish an opportunity to take him on, knowing that “litigating against him is fun and never boring and you always learn something”. “Excellent litigator” David Plasser is a dab hand in contentious work, demonstrating finesse in defending the interests of major pharmaceutical companies.
“The first choice for large international players, the robust team at Wolf Theiss specialises in cross-border life sciences infringement litigation. With experience in the majority of recent patent litigations in Austria”, it is no surprise that they are the preferred litigators of medical devices goliath B Braun Melsungen and drug giant Allergan. Captaining the IP team is the “extremely fast and pragmatic Georg Kresbach, who knows the right buttons to push to emerge victorious”. “Efficient and outstanding”, he is singled out by his clients for his problem-solving, licensing and contractual nous, which he has exhibited for leading brands in the pharmaceutical, IT and telecoms industries.
Other recommended expertsFormer DLA Piper IP sage Alexander Cizek is now well established as a sole practitioner advising clients on infringement issues with a uniquely personal touch. “Proving her prowess in patent matters through her expert knowledge and laudable management of cross-border patent infringement cases”, Claudia Csáky can be found leading the team at Graf & Pitkowitz. Partner at Vienna-based full-service outfit Haslinger/Nagele, IP team leader Klaus Haslinger draws on 35 years of experience as an attorney at law. Karina Hellbert is an authority on life sciences matters, where her technical expertise and ability to navigate complex regulatory hurdles are invaluable assets to pharmaceutical companies. She leads the IP practice at regulatory outfit Fiebinger Polak Leon & Partners. A communications engineering specialist at Weiser & Voith with 25 years as a patent attorney under his belt, Andreas Weiser “literally wrote the book on the Austrian Patent Act”.
Individuals: litigation and transactions
- Thomas Adocker - Schwarz Schönherr Rechtsanwälte KG
- Christian Gassauer-Fleissner - Gassauer-Fleissner Rechtsanwälte GmbH
- Constantin Kletzer - GEISTWERT Rechtsanwälte
- Georg Kresbach - Wolf Theiss
- Georg Schönherr - Schwarz Schönherr Rechtsanwälte KG
- Dominik Göbel - Gassauer-Fleissner Rechtsanwälte GmbH
- Guido Kucsko - Schoenherr Attorneys at Law
- Alexander Schnider - GEISTWERT Rechtsanwälte
- Rainer Schultes - GEISTWERT Rechtsanwälte
- Alexander Cizek - CIZEK | IP
- Claudia Csáky - Graf & Pitkowitz Rechtsanwälte GmbH
- Lukas Feiler - Baker McKenzie - Diwok Hermann Petsche Rechtsanwälte LLP & Co KG
- Martina Grama - Baker McKenzie - Diwok Hermann Petsche Rechtsanwälte LLP & Co KG
- Klaus Haslinger - Haslinger/Nagele & Partner
- Karina Hellbert - Fiebinger Polak Leon & Partner Rechtsanwälte GmbH
- Juliane Messner - GEISTWERT Rechtsanwälte
- Max W Mosing - GEISTWERT Rechtsanwälte
- David Plasser - Wiltschek Rechtsanwälte
- Sascha Salomonowitz - Salomonowitz Horak
- Michael Woller - Schoenherr Attorneys at Law
- Daniel Alge - SONN & PARTNER Patentanwälte
- Andreas Wildhack - Wildhack & Jellinek
- Andreas Gehring - Puchberger & Partner Patentanwälte
- Reinhard Hehenberger - Beer & Partner Patentanwälte
- Bernhard P Henhapel - Patentanwalt Kliment & Henhapel
- Marc Keschmann - Haffner & Keschmann
- Herwig Margotti - Schwarz & Partner
- Harald Nemec - Schwarz & Partner
- Peter Pawloy - SONN & PARTNER Patentanwälte
- Andreas Pföstl - Schwarz & Partner
- Georg Puchberger - Puchberger & Partner Patentanwälte
- Peter Puchberger - Puchberger & Partner Patentanwälte
- Gerda Redl - REDL Life Science Patent Attorneys
- Michael Stadler - Wildhack & Jellinek
- Andreas Weiser - Weiser & Voith Patentanwälte Partnerschaft
- Albin Schwarz - Schwarz & Partner
- Helmut Sonn - SONN & PARTNER Patentanwälte
- Lothar Wiltschek - Wiltschek Rechtsanwälte