In the wake of Brexit, Ireland has fast become a hotspot for UK practitioners with a desire to remain active in Europe. Many English firms have headed across the Irish Sea over the last 12 months to set up a base in the jurisdiction, although most have yet to make their mark and fully integrate with the Irish market. For native practitioners, business remains lucrative: the country is one of the world’s top five exporters of pharmaceuticals and has a buzzing technological innovation scene, particularly in Dublin and Galway. The west coast city in particular has become a hub for medical technologies in particular – something that patent firms are keen to capitalise on.
Firms: litigation and transactions
- Mason Hayes & Curran
- McCann FitzGerald
- Whitney Moore
- William Fry
- A&L Goodbody
- Arthur Cox
- DFMG Solicitors
Internationally minded A&L Goodbody has carved a foothold on the international stage, with an office in London and three across the United States supporting its Dublin headquarters. Intellectual property has long been a central plank of its full-service commercial offering and the set continues to be heavily involved in crucial patent litigations. The IP linchpin is John Whelan, a commercial litigator with deep knowledge of the telecommunications arena. The cosmopolitan practitioner previously headed up the offices in San Francisco and Palo Alto, and is ideally placed to advise companies from overseas that wish to set up shop in Ireland.
Acuatus is a boutique whose diminutive size is a strength, not a weakness. The agile outfit is captained by Alistair Payne, who provides a breadth of service that one would expect from a large firm, but in a much more personal, bespoke and cost-effective manner. Payne is hailed for his staunch representation of pharmaceutical, fintech and telecommunications companies in complex patent infringement and validity disputes: “Alistair is extremely proficient and highly regarded – he knows a lot about patents.”
Anne Ryan & Co
Anne Ryan & Co has built its stellar reputation on that of its eponymous co-founder. Anne Ryan and her firm dispense a comprehensive suite of prosecution services with finesse, acting directly before the Irish Patent Office, the UK IP Office and the European Patent Office (EPO). Given Ryan’s biochemistry background, the life sciences are a point of emphasis for the set, which has been doing sterling work on matters relating to supplementary protection certificates (SPCs) and plant protection rights.
in Dublin, it has since spread its wings and now undertakes high-value commercial litigation and transactions work from five offices worldwide, including in the United Kingdom and United States. The IP figurehead at home in Dublin is David O’Donohoe, a gifted advocate who fights the corner of pharmaceutical and biotechnology giants such as Johnson & Johnson and Biogen in commercially consequential lawsuits. He can also be confidently called upon for all manner of other tasks, making him the perfect one-stop shop for any rights holder.
Celebrated countrywide for its pragmatic, client-focused solutions, ByrneWallace is particularly adept at shepherding lucrative patent and technology transactions to successful close. Leading the charge is Colin Sainsbury, “a big name in the life sciences” and a “go-to for any complex pharmaceutical or biotechnology matter, with a wealth of experience”. He also expertly brokers food and beverage transactions.
A stalwart in the Irish patent space and one of the few dedicated IP prosecution boutiques, Cruickshank files with alacrity at the Irish Patent Office and the EPO. The rainmaker here is Donal O’Connor, who brings unmatched industry and practice experience to the table. He has the distinction of being a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and has wide-ranging technical expertise, covering mechanical engineering, electronics, software and nanotechnology. He matches this with a keen commercial sense which proves especially valuable for start-ups and entrepreneurs.
Commercial law firm DFMG puts in polished performances on patent litigation and transactional briefs, thanks to the presence of the esteemed Patricia McGovern. The “hands-on, dedicated and experienced litigator” commands the respect of the market for her goal-oriented, business-minded approach to cases. Though not engaged in prosecution work, McGovern and her colleagues also provide insightful strategic landscape analysis.
“First-class” patent prosecution outfit FRKelly will “never let you down”. With all-encompassing technical proficiency, it offers superb filing support and robust representation in opposition proceedings. On the high-technology side, a star player is David Brophy, who specialises in telecommunications, software and medical devices. The former EPO examiner has insider knowledge of its workings, which he leverages astutely. Life sciences mavens Donal Kelly and Maura O’Connell form a dynamic duo: Kelly is a firm favourite among academic institutions and start-ups for the crisp results he delivers; while O’Connell holds a PhD in biochemistry from the National University of Ireland and has been a rock for the firm and its patrons since 1987.
Prosecution specialist Hanna Moore + Curley impresses for its “honest, practical and commercially savvy advice”. Its international presence is a notable distinction: the firm maintains bureaux in China, the United Kingdom and Paris, ensuring it can provide seamless support across borders. Another selling point is its agility in oppositions and appeals before the EPO, which brings into focus the work of Barry Moore and Catherine Hanratty. Founding partner and physicist Moore is steeped in European patent know-how and regularly partners with top UK and German firms to manage sprawling portfolios on the continent. Optoelectronics expert Hanratty feels especially at ease in the EPO, having worked there prior to entering private practice. Anna Hally likewise has an international perspective, following stints at leading IP firms in London. Genetics and biotechnology are her metiers, with SPCs and plant rights particular specialities. “Anna consistently demonstrates a remarkable level of dedication and diligence. Her technical understanding, coupled with her deep knowledge of patent law and strategy, makes her invaluable.” Corporate clients queue in their droves to enlist the services of Conor Boyce and Donnacha Curley. Boyce has a refined prosecution skillset in the fields of electronics and software; while Curley’s reputation has earned him the presidency of the Association of Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys in Ireland.
One of the largest and fastest-growing IP outfits in Europe, HGF has lately been expanding in Ireland, with office openings in Dublin and Westport. Tasked with nurturing its Irish presence is Craig Thomson, who is well versed in all things biotechnological and pharmaceutical, particularly therapeutic and diagnostic inventions. He has a “phenomenal ability to quickly grasp the key concepts in an invention and tease out the most inventive aspects so as to file the strongest possible patents. He is always on hand to guide patent strategy and has incredible patience when explaining the intricacies of the prosecution process. He is also ridiculously good fun to work with!” “He takes a practical, business-oriented approach, focusing on what will drive value in the European market in a way that enables informed decision making. In view of technological convergence, his technical versatility is invaluable.”
Already renowned in the United Kingdom, Keltie decided to make forays into Ireland over the last year. In contrast to many UK competitors that have made similar moves, Keltie is noted for the strength of its commitment to its new Galway office: Irish peers describe it as “ahead of the curve” and note the traction it is gaining among domestic start-ups and SMEs. The city is a medical technology hub and this is something that Keltie takes full advantage of, acting on both sides of the investor equation. Taking charge in Galway, Sean Cummings heads a team of four permanent members of staff. His know-how stretches from chemistry to computer science, with automotive technologies another forte.
MacLachlan & Donaldson
MacLachlan & Donaldson has long maintained a dynamic presence on the Irish patent scene. With a penchant for commercial thinking, a European outlook and a deep bench of expert patent attorneys on hand, it provides a sophisticated service to all comers. A key contact for the address book is chairman Denis McCarthy, who boasts sparkling engineering, materials science and computer technology credentials. With the firm for more than four decades, he has vast expertise handling opposition and appeal proceedings at the EPO.
Mason Hayes & Curran
Mason Hayes & Curran is abundantly talented on both sides of the contentious/non-contentious divide, engaging decisively in patent litigation battles and adroitly negotiating technology and IP-driven transactions. Much of its work has a cross-border element. The set has broad sector coverage, although one major win came in the life sciences: acting for Teva Pharmaceutical, Gerard Kelly successfully defended injunction proceedings allowing for the immediate stockage of its PrEP anti-retroviral HIV drug. Kelly has made appearances in recent years at the Irish Commercial Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, artificial intelligence (AI) whizz Brian McElligott provides sage advice to major technology companies on licensing and IP due diligence matters.
Commercial law powerhouse Matheson runs a specialty IP practice that dispenses on-point guidance to innovators on technology transactions and strategic collaborations of all kinds. The group is captained by Deirdre Kilroy, who makes light work of big-ticket deals thanks to her blended IP and contractual law skillset. Kilroy’s versatility adds value for those with diverse needs and portfolios: data privacy law, brand protection and much more are all within her ken. When infringement headaches loom, she has the support of the firm’s muscular commercial litigation and dispute resolution division.
McCann FitzGerald gives “tremendous business advice” and also brings the heat in multi-jurisdictional patent disputes involving pharmaceutical and telecommunications technologies. A go-to for high-profile instructions, it was recently enlisted on complex SPC and FRAND licensing matters by Gilead Sciences and Vodafone respectively. On the frontlines is Fiona O’Beirne, a “conscientious, diligent, resolute and forensic” lawyer who has hammered out the right results in must-win multi-jurisdictional IP disputes for almost three decades. Also enthusiastically endorsed, Shane O’Brien is “the best up-and-coming patent litigator in Ireland and an extremely hardworking, strategic and accessible partner”.
Since its founding 12 years ago, PurdyLucey has cultivated a totemic reputation in the IP Irish space for its meticulous, efficient prosecution of life sciences and high-technology patents. All seven of its seasoned team have impressive academic backgrounds and many come with industry and/or overseas private practice experience. Its twin namesakes, Michael Lucey and Barry Purdy, each has more than two decades invested in the game – experience they put to good use on behalf of multinationals, SMEs and start-ups alike. Competitors applaud high-technologist Lucey as “approachable, clear and trustworthy”. Food science, materials, biotechnology and medical technology ace Purdey delights university clients with a refined service tailored to their specific needs. Biochemistry PhD Mark Carmody has broad international horizons – he previously worked at a Japanese law firm in Osaka and now counsels Irish, American, Australian and Canadian clients on patent strategy. The recent recruitment of Naoise Gordon reflects PurdyLucey’s eye for talent: all-rounder Gordon – who spent time in Unilever’s patent department and established the Irish branch of a UK patent attorney firm upon returning to private practice – is a precision draftsman, portfolio strategist, IP risk analyst and EPO oppositions and appeals ace.
Tomkins & Co
Tomkins is a reliable hand-holder for innovators seeking cast-iron patent protection in Ireland and beyond. Its offering is extensive, encompassing everything from prosecution to patentability counselling and representation in contentious administrative proceedings. Cathal Lane and Christina Gates are lodestars in the life sciences. Lane focuses on strategic counselling and often works with clients’ tax advisers and lawyers to develop holistic, business-focused IP strategies. He has advised pharmaceutical giants such as Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline, and is no stranger to EPO proceedings. Likewise Gates, a molecular biology PhD who also has a real facility for software and digital and business methods patents. When it comes to engineering, physics and electronics, Olivia Catesby stands out for her smooth liaison with world-class inventors, outside counsel and in-house patent departments. She also has a glowing record before the EPO.
That Whitney Moore was recently named Ireland Patent Firm of the Year at the Global IP Awards bears testament to its dominance in the patent space. Over the last two years, it has acted in more patent actions in the Commercial Court than any other competitor in Ireland. The life sciences field is a happy hunting ground, with the likes of Amgen, Edwards Lifesciences and Merck all seeking it out for its unparalleled expertise. The star of the show is Aoife Murphy, an accomplished multi-jurisdictional patent litigator in the pharmaceutical, medical device and biotechnology fields. Equally unfazed by complex lawsuits is Robin Hayes who, alongside Murphy, recently acted for Merck in a landmark Supreme Court case concerning the correct approach to the grant of preliminary injunctions.
William Fry is home to Ireland’s largest full-service dedicated IP division, encompassing 21 practitioners; and the group is still growing, with four associates added since August 2018. It attracts effusive feedback from the market: “William Fry is first rate – its team has tremendously deep experience in technology and intellectual property, and tackles matters pragmatically while finding ways to add value.” Recent work highlights – including acting for Eli Lilly and Genentech in revocation and infringement proceedings – also speak to its high standing. Head of the contentious IP group Laura Scott fights tooth and nail on behalf of major life sciences players: “Laura Scott knows what she’s doing and is a top IP lawyer through and through.” Another eminent name, Carol Plunkett now serves in a consultant role and is a vital strategic sounding board for colleagues and clients. David Cullen captains the technology group and is a go-to for perspicacious advice in dynamic fields such as AI, machine learning and blockchain. Leo Moore deftly handles cross-border licensing deals.
Other recommended experts
Individuals: litigation and transactions
- Gerard Kelly - Mason Hayes & Curran
- Patricia McGovern - DFMG Solicitors
- Aoife Murphy - Whitney Moore
- Fiona O'Beirne - McCann FitzGerald
- Laura Scott - William Fry
- John Whelan - A&L Goodbody
- David Cullen - William Fry
- Maureen Daly - Beauchamps
- Robin Hayes - Whitney Moore
- Ann Henry - Pinsent Masons
- Deirdre Kilroy - Matheson
- Brian McElligott - Mason Hayes & Curran
- Leo Moore - William Fry
- Shane O'Brien - McCann FitzGerald
- David O'Donohoe - Arthur Cox
- Alistair Payne - Acuatus
- Colin Sainsbury - ByrneWallace
- Conor Boyce - Hanna Moore + Curley
- David Brophy - FRKelly
- Michael Lucey - PurdyLucey
- Barry Moore - Hanna Moore + Curley
- Barry Purdy - PurdyLucey
- Mark Carmody - PurdyLucey
- Olivia Catesby - Tomkins & Co
- Sean Cummings - Keltie LLP
- Donnacha Curley - Hanna Moore + Curley
- Christina Gates - Tomkins & Co
- Naoise Gordon - PurdyLucey
- Anna Hally - Hanna Moore + Curley
- Catherine Hanratty - Hanna Moore + Curley
- Donal Kelly - FRKelly
- Cathal Lane - Tomkins & Co
- Denis McCarthy - MacLachlan & Donaldson
- Maura O'Connell - FRKelly
- Donal O'Connor - Cruickshank
- Anne Ryan - Anne Ryan & Co
- Craig Thomson - HGF Ltd
- Carol Plunkett - William Fry