Ireland is already an established and strategically important manufacturing base, but it is now starting to reap the rewards of increased R&D investment from overseas. The Irish government has been active in promoting more robust IP rights for businesses, with schemes such as Knowledge Transfer Ireland facilitating the transmission of cutting-edge research from institutes to the market. Impressive growth in the electronics and medical technology sectors has helped fuel the practices of the country’s top law and patent attorney firms.
Firms: litigation and transactions
- A&L Goodbody
- Whitney Moore
- William Fry
- Arthur Cox
- DFMG Solicitors
- Mason Hayes & Curran
- McCann FitzGerald
A&L Goodbody was the first Irish law firm to establish a presence in the United States – it opened its New York office back in 1978. More recently, it has added bureaux in Palo Alto and San Francisco, which puts it in pole position to advise US technology companies working in Europe and Irish entities investing in the United States. John Whelan spearheaded the firm’s activities on the US West Coast for several years but is now back at the helm of the commercial and technology practice in Dublin. His blend of contractual, IP, technology, privacy and regulatory expertise is a compelling option for those embarking on major projects in Ireland.
Founded by Alistair Payne, Acuatus has gained an excellent reputation since it first opened its doors in 2016. Clients come knowing they will get Payne’s undivided attention; he is a former head of intellectual property at Matheson and therefore a leading lawyer with top-drawer experience. He is currently representing Mylan Pharmaceuticals Group in a case concerning the alleged infringement and case for invalidity of the supplementary protection certificate (SPC) for Truvada, a blockbuster HIV drug owned by Gilead. Not restricted to pharmaceutical cases, Payne is also a classy operator when it comes to fintech and other high-tech cases.
Anne Ryan & Co
With clients all over the world keen to utilise its prosecution know-how, Anne Ryan & Co has established itself as one of the go-to life sciences patent groups in Ireland. Anne Ryan is the fulcrum around which the practice turns. She dispenses rigorous advice on pharmaceutical and biotech matters and delivers crisp results by getting things right the first time.
Arthur Cox has been operating at the cutting-edge of Irish legal practice for almost 100 years; since its early days in the 1920s on St Stephen’s Green, it has grown into a five-office firm with a presence in Belfast, Dublin, London, New York and Silicon Valley. Flexing outstanding litigation skills and transactional deftness, David O’Donohoe is a key contact. He has acted for many household names across multiple industry sectors and, as a result, has seen just about all IP litigation scenarios play out, which brings comfort to clients when trouble brews. His alternative dispute resolution credentials are excellent and add another element to his practice.
ByrneWallace is known throughout the market for its IP transactional prowess. The “internationally minded, commercially aware and client-focused” firm negotiates deals in the life sciences space with alacrity. Having Colin Sainsbury in the fold certainly helps. Sainsbury has bags of industry experience – he previously served as senior vice president at Élan Pharmaceutical Technologies – and knows how to get a signature on the dotted line of complex transactions with a minimum amount of fuss. He is constantly expanding his long list of career highlights and recently acted for Nuvo during its $110 million purchase of Aralez Pharmaceuticals.
Operating dexterously at the Irish and European Patent Offices, Cruickshank has the ability to help businesses of all stripes secure all-encompassing patent protection. Pivotal to the firm’s success is Donal O’Connor, an elder statesman with more than 40 years of experience in filing mechanical, software and electronics patents. A former president of the Licensing Executive Society in the United Kingdom and Ireland, O’Connor is passionate about encouraging entrepreneurship and helping start-ups get off the ground. Uniquely among Irish practitioners, he holds an MBA and is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.
DFMG does not handle prosecution work – although it does issue opinions on patentability – but instead focuses on infringement and transactional mandates, which it despatches with assuredness. The team’s personal, attentive and partner-led service is a magnet for a diverse client base, which also finds much to like in the group’s efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Leading the line is “dedicated and practical” professional Patricia McGovern, a litigation strategy mastermind who has made a major contribution to IP life in Ireland through her writing, teaching, speaking and Irish Law Society activities. Elite clients are drawn to her high-end advice like moths to a flame.
Winner of Patent Firm of the Year for Ireland at the inaugural Global IP Awards, the “dynamic” FRKelly has all the technical expertise you could need but, crucially, treats patents as business assets. The group is also ISO 9001:2008 certified, so clients know that they will get a top-quality service. Among the PhDs onboard are Donal Kelly and Maura O’Connell who anchor a sterling life sciences practice. Kelly, who is certified to practice IP litigation and advocacy, is passionate about innovation and does much for the start-up community in Ireland. O’Connell is a popular choice for academic institutions, in part because of the IP commercialisation expertise she brings to the table. On the high-tech side, their counterparts are David Brophy and Philip Coyle. Brophy knows all about patent protection at a European level and is an authority on designs too. Coyle is a go-to for many US entities who appreciate his combination of prosecution and litigation expertise.
“When you work with the people at Hanna Moore + Curley it is just like magic – you give them an original idea, they understand it immediately and get you a high-quality draft with exceptional efficiency. They get straight to the point, which saves time and money, and really take ownership of the matters they handle.” The gold-rated prosecution shop is growing at a rapid rate as word of its proficiency at the EPO spreads throughout the United States, Canada and Asia. Peter Hanna may have recently retired but there is no shortage of talent at the firm. At the senior level, Barry Moore and Donnacha Curley stand out as superb draftsmen and expert prosecutors of software and electronics patents. Among those taking on increasing leadership responsibilities are electrical engineering ace Conor Boyce, life sciences specialist Anna Hally and physicist Catherine Hanratty. When it comes to portfolio management, Boyce is a proven value creator, which is attested to by several big-money acquisitions of clients he has represented. Hally is a whizz when it comes to genetics and biotech files, while Hanratty assiduously protects many big-name electronics, telecoms and medical device clients.
HGF has been on a remarkable growth curve in the past decade, opening a slew of offices in the United Kingdom and across Europe. In May 2018 the firm expanded to Ireland, establishing a presence in Westport to tap into the buzzing life sciences scene in Galway. Taking the reins on this initiative is Craig Thomson, an experienced handler of biotech, pharmaceutical, chemical and medical innovations. Thomson is a seasoned prosecutor and serves up trenchant advice on IP strategy in connection with technology-driven deals and enforcement issues; the broad ambit of his practice has helped him develop a refined commercial sense.
MacLachlan & Donaldson
For half a century MacLachlan & Donaldson has been a popular destination on the Irish IP map for companies with diverse portfolios thanks to its understanding of both brands and patents. The MacLachlan practitioners provide precise prosecution services covering all the crucial technical areas as well as expertise in technology transfer and licensing. Specialising in material science and computer technology, Denis McCarthy has abundant experience before the EPO and Boards of Appeal, making him a safe pair of hands. Another standout star is Yvonne McKeown, who holds a PhD in molecular biology from Trinity College Dublin, she has extensive post-doctoral research experience and is as good as it gets when it comes to technical ability in the life sciences and medical device theatres.
Mason Hayes & Curran
Mason Hayes & Curran has played a vital role in some of the largest pharmaceutical patent cases to have played out in the Irish courts, representing a slew of marquee multinational pharmaceutical and biosimilar companies. The mastermind behind many Commercial Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court victories is “elite” litigator Gerard Kelly – a cogent choice for those who cannot afford to lose a case. Mason Hayes & Curran’s non-contentious practice is equally impressive: when advising on IP strategy and inking patent and technology-rich transactions, its lawyers acquit themselves with distinction.
International rights holders love to work with Matheson’s IP unit as it puts time and effort into understanding their individual objectives and the industry landscape in which they operate. It also has rich experience litigating challenging IP cases; knows how to cut IP-rich transactions; and knows the key to getting separate company departments (eg, tax, competition and corporate) to pull in the same direction. Deirdre Kilroy is the star of the show and a top deal broker for clients in the high-tech and life sciences domains. She is considered a bona fide thought leader on trade secrets legislation and SPC regimes.
Eli Lilly, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer are just a few of the illustrious global pharmaceutical names that have enlisted McCann FitzGerald when going into battle with competitors. The “outstanding” Fiona O’Beirne is a leading light in Ireland for anything hotly contentious; she has finely honed litigation skills thanks to her experience, not just in patent matters but in heavy-duty commercial litigation. Vital support in life sciences cases is provided by Roddy Bourke, a product liability and IP litigator with ample alternative dispute resolution experience.
The practitioners at PurdyLucey relish granular patent work – they are known for their meticulous prosecution of patents in Ireland, Europe and further afield. Fastidious about patent protection quality, the group also completes its tasks efficiently. Hands-on senior practitioners Barry Purdy, Mark Carmody and Michael Lucey exhibit their exceptional diligence and technical expertise throughout all phases of prosecution. For Purdy, material science, biotech and medical technology innovations are areas of expertise; the same can be said for Carmody, he is a global thinker with excellent connections in many patent hotspots; while Lucey – whose background is in electrical engineering – applies a razor-sharp mind to software, electronics and telecoms applications.
Tomkins & Co
“Approachable and personable,” the pros at Tomkins & Co are easy to work with and are extremely reliable in terms of quality. The team is ever-mindful of the need to ground its advice within a client’s wider commercial context. The life sciences are a happy hunting ground for Cathal Lane and Christina Gates. Managing partner Lane represents a diverse range of clients from small and medium-sized entities to multinational industry leaders, which means that he has a truly panoramic perspective of the life sciences sector. Unusually for someone so steeped in the biochemistry and molecular biology fields, Gates is also proficient when it comes to software and business methods. Olivia Catesby spearheads much of the set’s high-tech work. Comfortable communicating with inventors, in-house legal professionals and the C-suite, she is a repository of trust for companies with valuable portfolios. She has a golden touch when it comes to creating – and maximising – IP value.
Ascending to the IAM Patent 1000 gold tier this year, Whitney Moore is in a groove right now with “a number of key people hitting their stride”. The firm possesses a deep bench of courtroom talent, which means that it has the capacity to assign two partners to particularly critical cases. This lends a double-dose of quality to proceedings and ensures that briefs receive more than enough partner-level attention. This year, the firm has been busy with Merck, Sharpe & Dohme Corp in an appeal to the High Court against a negative SPC decision made by the controller of patents; it has also put in sterling work for Mylan in infringement proceedings brought by Teva concerning Copaxone, Teva’s blockbuster multiple sclerosis treatment. Litigation partner Aoife Murphy has a gimlet eye and is “outstanding” in life sciences matters – she is widely respected throughout Ireland. Like Murphy, Robin Hayes has a fine track record in contentious proceedings in both patents and trademarks.
William Fry is home to four individuals recommended in the IAM Patent 1000 this year, which is more than any other Irish commercial law firm; such bench strength means that it can handle the most difficult cases without breaking a sweat. A collegial atmosphere on the team also ensures exceptional knowledge sharing, so clients working with one partner essentially get the expertise of four. The first name on the team sheet is Carol Plunkett, who is unanimously considered to be “one of the best and most experienced litigators in the country”. Laura Scott, who joins Plunkett in the gold tier this year, is also an esteemed figure in the IP community: “Laura is calm, thoughtful, personable and highly professional,” she is also a sure-fire ace on cross-border cases. David Cullen and Leo Moore are the anchors on the commercial IP side. Cullen provides excellent leadership to the technology group. He is a popular choice for rights holders operating in the online and digital realms thanks to his unique blend of commercial, data, cybersecurity and IP expertise. Moore is a luminary in strategic portfolio management and IP deal making in developing fields such as fintech and the Internet of Things. “Leo is very responsive and dynamic – and he has great empathy. He understands the technology when 90% of solicitors don’t get it.”
Other recommended experts“Maureen Daly has long been an extremely positive influence on the IP profession in Ireland. She has done a lot for the understanding of intellectual property in the country.” She captains the technology and IP team at Beauchamps and is known to be a great all-rounder. NPGordon & Associates’ Naoise Gordon boasts valuable in-house experience, which he acquired at Unilever; as a specialist in patent prosecution and strategy across multiple technical fields he is impressively versatile. John O’Brien of John A O’Brien & Associates is described as being the main man for mechanical patent prosecution: “He’s sensible, down-to-earth, practical and very experienced.”
Individuals: litigation and transactions
- Patricia McGovern - DFMG Solicitors
- Aoife Murphy - Whitney Moore
- Fiona O'Beirne - McCann FitzGerald
- Carol Plunkett - William Fry
- Laura Scott - William Fry
- John Whelan - A&L Goodbody
- Roddy Bourke - McCann FitzGerald
- David Cullen - William Fry
- Maureen Daly - BEAUCHAMPS
- Robin Hayes - Whitney Moore
- Gerard Kelly - Mason Hayes & Curran
- Deirdre Kilroy - Matheson
- Leo Moore - William Fry
- David O'Donohoe - Arthur Cox
- Alistair Payne - Acuatus
- Colin Sainsbury - ByrneWallace
- Conor Boyce - Hanna Moore + Curley
- David Brophy - FRKelly
- Mark Carmody - PurdyLucey
- Olivia Catesby - Tomkins & Co
- Philip Coyle - FRKelly
- Donnacha Curley - Hanna Moore + Curley
- Maureen Daly - BEAUCHAMPS
- Christina Gates - Tomkins & Co
- Naoise Gordon - NPGordon & Associates
- Anna Hally - Hanna Moore + Curley
- Catherine Hanratty - Hanna Moore + Curley
- Donal Kelly - FRKelly
- Cathal Lane - Tomkins & Co
- Michael Lucey - PurdyLucey
- Denis McCarthy - MacLachlan & Donaldson
- Yvonne McKeown - MacLachlan & Donaldson
- Barry Moore - Hanna Moore + Curley
- John O'Brien - John A O’Brien & Associates
- Maura O'Connell - FRKelly
- Donal O'Connor - Cruickshank
- Barry Purdy - PurdyLucey
- Anne Ryan - Anne Ryan & Co
- Craig Thomson - HGF Ltd