Despite uncertainty over the UPC, Belgium’s patent litigation market is becoming increasingly active. Biosimilar litigation, for example, is on the rise and putting a number of the country’s top life sciences firms to the test. The entry into force of new trade secrets legislation is expected to drive an increase in action too; under the new act, courts can take certain measures to ensure that trade secrets remain confidential and protected during court proceedings. In terms of innovation, sources report a tremendous increase in software development.
Firms: litigation and transactions
- Bird & Bird LLP
- Crowell & Moring LLP
- Hoyng Rokh Monegier
- Allen & Overy LLP
- CAPE IP Law
- Fieldfisher LLP
- Simont Braun
- Janson Baugniet
- Linklaters LLP
Allen & Overy LLP
Prestigious firm Allen & Overy maintains an outstanding European – and global – IP practice, deploying all the regulatory, litigation and transactional expertise that a cutting-edge innovator could ever need. It is also primed and ready for UPC patent litigation, given the seamless integration of teams in France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Belgium. For a thought leader in Brussels, technology enterprises look to Geert Glas, a litigator, arbitrator and strategist with over three decades of experience. Other names to keep on speed dial are Filip Van Elsen and Peter Van Dyck. Van Elsen chairs the global technology, media and telecoms group and is adept at executing complex projects involving emerging technologies. Meanwhile, Van Dyck is a master negotiator of IP-driven deals and a proficient litigator.
The muscular IP team at ALTIUS maintains a leading patent practice in the fields of life sciences, healthcare and plant variety rights. The firm is particularly noted for its record of successfully obtaining injunctions on behalf of pharmaceutical originators against generic drug companies. On the frontline of combat is Christophe Ronse, esteemed head of the patent practice. “Christophe devises the best strategies and he always keeps a cool head. He masters the intricacies of his cases and demonstrates a deep understanding of the life sciences industry. He sets the standard in Belgium.” Of late, he has been enforcing the rights of Gilead Sciences against a number of generics. Recognised for his expertise in plant variety rights, Client Choice award winner Philippe de Jong is an artful prosecutor and an experienced patent litigator, particularly in food and beverage cases. “Philippe explains complicated IP issues to laymen clearly and concisely. He identifies and executes realistic solutions at a cost proportionate to the matter at hand. His ability to strike the right tone in order to avoid unnecessary escalation of emotions between conflicting parties is also greatly valued.”
Arnold & Siedsma
ISO 9001-certified firm Arnold & Siedsma moves up to the highly recommended tier for patent prosecution in Belgium in this year’s IAM Patent 1000. Its 40 talented patent attorneys cover the waterfront from a technical perspective and safeguard clients internationally thanks to the firm’s spread of 12 offices across the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland. Arnold & Siedsma’s lawyers handle complex litigation, making the group a reliable option for one-stop shopping. Some of the most praiseworthy feedback is reserved for Nele D’Halleweyn, who conducts sterling European patent work across many high-tech fields. “Nele quickly understands the nature of her clients’ problems and identifies appropriate solutions.” Having her on side adds tremendous value to a company. “She comes up with new technical ideas that are often broader than the initial ideas that clients want to patent.” Yannick Philippaerts also has a broad technical compass, digging deep into inventions at every point. He employs advanced strategic methods to strengthen his clients’ market positions regarding infringement and licensing issues. Samsung Electronics is one of the marquee companies that he has recently assisted. Maarten Nollen has a “meticulous mind and memory, which he deploys effectively to obtain the best possible results for clients”. Engaged with start-ups on the transactional and licensing sides of the practice, he takes a thoroughly commercial approach to patents.
Bird & Bird LLP
With the backing of colleagues in top-tier teams across Europe and Asia, Bird & Bird’s lawyers in Brussels distinguish themselves in high-stakes patent – and trade secret – litigation and complex transactions. Coming off the back of successes in the food and beverage, medical device, manufacturing and life sciences sectors, the local group has been gaining significant momentum, despite the recent retirement of Bruno Vandermeulen. Litigation sharpshooter Jean-Christophe Troussel is the lead partner to turn to. Multi-jurisdictional cases are in safe hands with him, an international IP thinker with strong leadership, organisational and strategic skills.
Modern, refreshing and innovative, Brantsandpatents is a popular choice for dynamic innovators looking for the best in IP protection now and in the future. Transparency and efficiency are the hallmarks of its cost-effective service, which has been designed by the “charismatic and commercial” Johan Brants, a specialist in chemistry and the life sciences. “Johan and his team do excellent work on time and within budget. They have excellent knowledge and analyse patents deep below the surface.”
CAPE IP Law
Ghent-based boutique CAPE IP Law may be a small shop, but it can handle heavy-duty IP litigation in Belgium and European courts. Founding partners Patricia Cappuyns and Véronique Pede inspire confidence with their extensive experience and hands-on approach to cases. “Extremely committed and someone who understands the business needs of her clients,” Cappuyns has netted success for Teva in recent litigation proceedings against Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly. Pede has been displaying her proficiency in cross-border cases, acting on behalf of Altachem against Clayton in a case with proceedings in Belgium, Germany and the United States. “Veronique is great at finding the right arguments and has tremendous experience. She makes it happen for her clients and is a fighter with a good business mind.”
Crowell & Moring LLP
“Crowell & Moring handles matters with creativity, perseverance and a no-nonsense approach which is why it is the go-to firm for generic pharmaceutical manufacturers.” Kristof Roox, co-managing partner of the Brussels office, is another compelling reason to seek out the outfit. As a life sciences litigator, “he has encyclopaedic knowledge and phenomenal experience”. Moreover, “he is a fierce fighter with excellent advocacy skills”. He recently secured a crucial judgment for Apotex concerning cholesterol-lowering drugs by contesting the validity of Merck Sharp & Dohme’s supplementary protection certificate. When Roox links up with fellow “authoritative and clear litigator” Jan-Diederik Lindemans, great things inevitably happen; they recently convinced the Brussels Court of Appeal to lift an injunction on clients Sandoz and Mylan, allowing them to put their tadalafil products back on the market. Debuting in the IAM Patent 1000 is Gunther Meyer, a former Eversheds Sutherland partner. He brings vast experience in multi-jurisdictional litigation and transactions to the practice.
De Clercq & Partners
Cosmopolitan outfit De Clercq & Partners is “very much a leading name in European patent prosecution”. “Its attorneys really make the effort to understand your technology and business by meeting with you and simply listening. They get quality first drafts down on paper fast and work collaboratively with the client to reach the right result.” Biotechnology and life sciences are the firm’s focused industries and the specialist fields of founding partner Ann De Clercq and European patent attorneys and PhD holders Koen Vanhalst, Sakina Bounaga and Liesbet Paemen. “Ann and the whole team are exceptionally insightful, imaginative, responsive and diligent, and they know how to maximise the value of their clients’ intellectual property.” Joining them in the guide for the first time this year is pharmacy PhD holder Jeff Gyi, who is recommended for his work in the mechanical engineering, software and chemistry industries. “Jeff knows what his clients need and delivers. He is extremely proficient technically and a personable and helpful attorney.”
The two-partner, five-associate team at Fieldfisher’s Brussels office provides on-point IP advice and hits hard in litigation – a combination that has led to it being appointed the European Commission’s exclusive IP counsel. Since landing the four-year term instruction in 2017, the group has advised on several patent matters affording it the opportunity to show off another attribute – fluency in cross-border issues. Stijn Debaene and Hakim Haouideg work closely with their colleagues in several European locales, including London, Paris and Amsterdam, enabling them to set forth multi-jurisdictional strategies for their clients. Blending IP, unfair competition and regulatory expertise, head of practice Debaene is the person to call for holistic counsel. Similar to his colleague, Haouideg is an experienced litigator, although he also does a top job on transactional IP matters. Sources comment that he is “very quick to understand complex technical issues”.
The GEVERS Group is home to more than 300 professionals and can provide just about every IP service under the sun. With five offices in Belgium and a presence in both France and Switzerland, the firm is well placed to advise clients on European IP matters. It also maintains China and US desks, thereby extending its activities much further afield. Impressive names include Ingrid Luyten and Frank Van Coppenolle, who are both talented linguists with broad patent horizons. Doctor of chemistry Luyten brings a sharp mind to prosecution, strategy and infringement matters in the agricultural sciences, pharmaceutical and chemistry domains, while Van Coppenolle has a background in electro-mechanical engineering and excels at managing IP assets for international patrons.
Flexing one of the largest IP teams in Belgium and a pan-European presence, HOYNG ROKH MONEGIER is a powerhouse when it comes to cross-border patent litigation. The firm has made disciples of many leading names in the life sciences sector – Pfizer being one of them. A team comprising Benoît Strowel, Steven Cattoor and Liesbeth Weynants has been assisting the US biopharmaceutical leader in clearing the path for the worldwide launch of one of its first biosimilars – a biosimilar antibody to the blockbuster Herceptin. Managing partner Strowel has a gift for steering multi-jurisdictional cases to a successful close, adding value with his in-depth regulatory knowledge. Likewise, Cattoor also brings unfair competition expertise into the mix. Garnering particular praise this year, leader of the local life sciences practice Weynants is “exceptionally easy to work with and a real team player. She is a highly effective strategist with a deep knowledge of the Belgian court system and one of the best practitioners around”. Carina Gommers is another star player and, alongside Strowel and Weynants, is acting for Teva in litigation against generics with respect to its innovative product Copaxone. Protecting a blockbuster drug for Boehringer Ingelheim, she is also acting against Teva as a generic company. “Carina stands out for proactivity, strategic thinking and excellent project management and case mapping skills.” Taking the lead on several important food and agricultural cases, Carl De Meyer also warrants great feedback. “He’s a tactically smart, quick and level-headed litigator. He keeps its simple and brings order to complex legal issues.”
Established in January 2017, Inteo has fast developed its reputation as a sophisticated patent litigation boutique. “The quality of its work is on a par with the more established firms, yet its fees are substantially lower. Its team is accessible and provides a personal and responsive service.” Strong leadership is provided by Kristof Neefs, an “open-minded” life sciences and technology litigator who “takes a clever approach to complex cases”. He has handled some meaty instructions recently and has been advising Merck Sharp & Dohme on pre-trial strategy and validity and infringement issues in connection with the launch of a biosimilar of trastuzumab, the active ingredient of Herceptin. He also revoked an injunction against client VMM, enabling it to use drainage machinery critical to its business. In the opinion of his peers, “Neefs is a very collaborative and extremely bright lawyer who is lighting up the Belgian scene”.
IPLodge is a reliable guide through all phases of patent prosecution. The firm dots every ‘i’’ and crosses every ‘t’ to ensure that clients obtain ironclad protection where and when they need it. Innovators can also receive sound advice on infringement and transactional matters here. An engine of the practice is former communications research engineer Michaël Beck, who operates smoothly in the electronics and IT fields. He combines legal erudition – publishing and teaching extensively on patent law – with a good business mind.
Full-service commercial firm Janson Baugniet takes intellectual property seriously and has cultivated a deep knowledge of the subject, particularly in disputes and transactional contexts. A go-to for major chemical, energy and food companies, Mireille Buydens has a deft touch in litigation. “A fervent defender of her clients when in difficulty, she puts forward very convincing arguments and has a brilliant legal mind.” She co-heads the practice with Hans Dhondt, who delivers crisp results in all patent and trademark matters.
Kirkpatrick Law PC
Passionate about innovation from a purely technical perspective and with respect to its commercial potential, Kirkpatrick does an excellent job of protecting its clients’ inventions and helping them to strategically exploit the fruits of their R&D labour. Senior patent attorney Philippe De Diesbach should be the first port of call for chemical and life sciences companies in Belgium.
The IP team at gilt-edged corporate firm Linklaters maintains a robust standalone practice but is at its best when combining with other departments at the firm to address the multifaceted legal issues faced by its prestigious clients. In one recent piece of core strategic litigation, Pieter Van Den Broecke leveraged the expertise of colleagues in a different department to field questions concerning the taxation of patent income. Van Den Broecke captains the IP practice and recently served as co-leader of the firm’s global consumer sector cross-disciplinary group. His deep consumer, healthcare and financial services industry knowledge enables him to provide rigorous commercial advice.
Popular Benelux outfit NautaDutilh is a flexible and efficient patent litigation and transactions firm. Active in numerous sectors, it has a vibrant practice that is especially proficient at handling patent matters made complex by dint of unfair competition and regulatory issues. The guiding light in Brussels is Philippe Péters; with 35 years of accomplishments behind him, he is an excellent strategic sounding board for colleagues and clients, as well as a skilled litigator and contract negotiator. Tanguy de Haan leads the litigation team with aplomb and is maestro at coordinating cross-border cases. Florence Verhoestraete is the set’s food and life sciences doyenne. She has been advising a major biotech company with respect to potential biosimilar litigation and makes a great team with IP and regulatory expert Christel Brion, who is new to the IAM Patent 1000 rankings this year. “She does thorough work and turns it around promptly. She makes the litigation process easy to understand, too.”
NLO has a rich tradition of excellence in intellectual property going back 130 years and is one of the largest IP consultancies in Europe, with a presence in the Netherlands and Belgium. A pathfinder for leading innovators as they launch state-of-the-art products and create new businesses, it can be counted on for high-quality, high-efficiency prosecution and tailored strategic advice. Steven Sarlet and Denis Canet are key contacts on the high-tech and life sciences sides, respectively.
International litigation is the name of the game at Simont Braun. Its seasoned IP team is accustomed to handling life sciences, medical device, chemistry and mechanical engineering disputes with complex technical, legal, procedural and regulatory threads. “It conducts litigation in a sensible and strategic manner” and is “reliable, responsive and easy to work with”. Supplying strong leadership and abundant technology and trial expertise, head of the practice Fernand de Visscher is the complete package. Teamed with Philippe Campolini, he is currently defending ArcelorMittal before the Tribunal d’Arrondissement of Luxembourg in an entitlement matter initiated by Tata. The case involves related proceedings in Germany and the Netherlands and deals with rare co-inventorship issues. Campolini has been on a tear since he became partner in 2017; his employee inventions and transactional expertise round out the Simont Braun practice nicely. Fluent in six European languages and a noted author of patent law commentaries, he is a truly impressive figure. Best described as an international litigation strategist, Eric De Gryse is another go-to in litigation, particularly in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors.
Benelux-based international firm Stibbe tackles difficult cross-border legal issues with poise and the IP group in Belgium does not let the side down. Ensuring this is Ignace Vernimme, a lawyer whose IP expertise is as broad as it is deep. He is a great reference point for strategic assessments regarding patent strategy in highly competitive industries.
VO Patents & Trademarks takes a pragmatic and personal approach and always keep clients’ business interests at the forefront. Taking the time to regularly meet patrons in order to keep up with their inventions enables practitioners to provide efficient advice at every step of the way. VO recently launched a special programme aimed at making patent applications more accessible to smaller start-up companies, highlighting the firm’s commitment to driving innovation in Belgium. Annemie Jaeken is in her element when advising start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and handles business strategy and IP negotiations with assurance. Also working closely with SMEs, Marco Molling brings vast chemical patent expertise to the table, as well as carving out a niche for himself in food technology and health food products. Head of the Leuven office, Marco Box draws on his engineering background to quickly get to grips with his clients’ technologies and always puts himself in their position, thinking strategically and globally about IP value creation.
Other recommended expertsCalysta’s Ludivine Coulon “deeply analyses cases, quickly understands technical matters, provides reliable opinions and adapts her advice to the audience and the criticality of a case”. Head of Baker McKenzie’s IP group in Belgium, Koen De Winter “is a very experienced litigator whose arguments never fail to convince”. Christian Dekoninck plies his trade at Taylor Wessing and “is an elegant and fair adversary” in patent litigation. Van Bael & Bellis IP professional Peter L’Ecluse has broad life sciences industry knowledge and value-additive expertise in competition and regulatory law. Negotiating IP and technology agreements and litigation, ADVOCANT’s Karin Ottelohe does it all while staying up to date on the latest European IP case law.
Individuals: litigation and transactions
- Carl De Meyer - HOYNG ROKH MONEGIER
- Christophe Ronse - ALTIUS
- Kristof Roox - Crowell & Moring LLP
- Benoît Strowel - Hoyng Rokh Monegier
- Liesbeth Weynants - HOYNG ROKH MONEGIER
- Mireille Buydens - Janson Baugniet
- Patricia Cappuyns - CAPE IP Law
- Steven Cattoor - HOYNG ROKH MONEGIER
- Tanguy de Haan - NautaDutilh
- Philippe de Jong - ALTIUS
- Fernand de Visscher - Simont Braun
- Stijn Debaene - Fieldfisher LLP
- Geert V Glas - Allen & Overy LLP
- Carina Gommers - HOYNG ROKH MONEGIER
- Jan-Diederik Lindemans - Crowell & Moring LLP
- Véronique Pede - CAPE IP Law
- Philippe Péters - NautaDutilh
- Jean-Christophe Troussel - Bird & Bird LLP
- Florence Verhoestraete - NautaDutilh
- Ignace Vernimme - Stibbe
- Christel Brion - NautaDutilh
- Philippe Campolini - Simont Braun
- Eric De Gryse - Simont Braun
- Koen De Winter - Baker McKenzie
- Christian Dekoninck - Taylor Wessing
- Hans Dhondt - Janson Baugniet
- Hakim Haouideg - Fieldfisher LLP
- Peter L'Ecluse - Van Bael & Bellis
- Gunther Meyer - Crowell & Moring LLP
- Kristof Neefs - Inteo
- Karin Ottelohe - ADVOCANT
- Pieter Van Den Broecke - Linklaters LLP
- Peter Van Dyck - Allen & Overy LLP
- Filip Van Elsen - Allen & Overy LLP
- Michaël Beck - IPLodge
- Johan Brants - Brantsandpatents
- Nele D'Halleweyn - Arnold & Siedsma
- Ann De Clercq - De Clercq & Partners
- Liesbet Paemen - De Clercq & Partners
- Sakina Bounaga - De Clercq & Partners
- Marco Box - VO Patents & Trademarks
- Ludivine Coulon - Calysta
- Annemie Jaeken - VO Patents & Trademarks
- Ingrid Luyten - GEVERS
- Marco Molling - VO Patents & Trademarks
- Maarten Nollen - Arnold & Siedsma
- Yannick Philippaerts - Arnold & Siedsma
- Frank Van Coppenolle - GEVERS
- Koen Vanhalst - De Clercq & Partners