Switzerland

Switzerland was named the world’s most innovative nation in 2018 by the WIPO and continues to press forward in 2019. The Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation, one of the two main R&D funding agencies in the country, was recently remodelled: now known as Innosuisse, the fresh-faced entity will integrate inventors into the research environment more seamlessly and allow for more transparent governance. Further attempts to boost local entrepreneurship have also been made. Parliament recently introduced the ‘patent box’ regime, which should reduce cantonal corporate income tax rates on Swiss patent-derived profits by up to 90%. In January 2019, the country’s lawmakers also amended the Swiss Patent Act and Patent Ordinance to provide for a six-month paediatric extension of the term of a supplementary protection certificate, aligning Swiss laws with those of the European Union and encouraging the development of new treatments for children. On the contentious front, practitioners continue to await the upcoming advent of the UPC – and to speculate on the impact that the new regime might have on the Swiss patent landscape.

Firms: litigation

  • Homburger AG 
  • Lenz & Staehelin
  • Meyerlustenberger Lachenal Ltd 
  • FMP Fuhrer Marbach & Partners
  • Rentsch Partner Ltd
  • TIMES Attorneys
  • Kasser Schlosser Attorneys at Law
  • Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law Ltd
  • Schellenberg Wittmer
  • Walder Wyss

Firms: prosecution

  • Highly recommended
  • E Blum & Co AG
  • Hepp Wenger Ryffel AG 
  • Isler & Pedrazzini AG
  • Rentsch Partner Ltd
  • Recommended
  • Keller & Partner Patentanwälte AG
  • Schaad Balass Menzl & Partner AG
  • ThomannFischer 

Firms: transactions

Bär & Karrer

Home to one of the premier transactional offerings in Switzerland, Bär & Karrer is the preferred choice of many major corporations operating in the country. With more than 150 lawyers spread across its four Swiss locations, the renowned outfit’s national coverage is exemplary – it really can reach clients anywhere. Head of intellectual property and co-head of life sciences Markus Wang is the firm’s main draw. “He’s a really talented patent transactional lawyer: with a solution-oriented approach, he’s always looking for win-win situations. Markus is very quick to see the different facets of an issue, and predict the long-term knock-on effects each decision will have. He gets results, focuses on the key issues and doesn’t fight battles for no reason – he’s a great guy, doing great work.”

E Blum & Co AG

E Blum is a “stand-out offering for prosecution” and a “classic, established firm” with “a very good reputation and a list of practitioners that speaks for itself”. The firm possesses the impressive technical breadth that one might expect of one of the largest specialised IP outfits in Switzerland, which is largely down to the versatility of its patent attorneys. Electronics, software, telecoms and mechanics ace Kurt Sutter is a lodestone for well-informed rights holders. “He’s really excellent. His response times are quick, and his advice is balanced, calm and professional. Kurt has a great technical understanding of mechanics. Intelligent and serious by nature, he also has a good sense of humour which makes him brilliant to work with.” Chemistry, pharmaceuticals and foodstuffs guru Regula Rüedi excels in the courtroom and at the drafting desk; her expert opinions are worth their weight in gold. Dual-qualified Rainer Schalch has headed the firm’s patent department since 1998. His all-around engineering acumen takes some beating.

FMP Fuhrer Marbach & Partners

“FMP Fuhrer Marbach & Partners is a niche firm with an excellent reputation.” The Bern-based commercial partnership is widely lauded for its combination of courtroom skill, reasonable rates and responsiveness – qualities that are embodied in the firm’s standout performer, Peter Widmer. “He’s dedicated, solid, and a fair player who possesses both great experience and a nice manner. He’s likeable, both as a person and as a lawyer.” “Peter is very skilled indeed – thorough not only on the patent side, but on the procedural rules and contract law sides too. He takes a 360-degree view of complex cases and does an excellent job.”

Froriep Legal AG

Since formalising its collaboration with Rentsch Partner in April 2017, Froriep Legal has been the proud purveyor of the entire spectrum of patent-related services. The firm enjoys a deservedly high reputation across the board, but arguably its key strength lies in the transactional arena. Joint venture, licensing and R&D agreements are a piece of cake for Froriep’s team of refined practitioners, which is spearheaded by Scottish high-tech and life sciences adept Nicola Benz. Her gimlet eye never misses a contractual detail; as a native English speaker who works in German, she is an astute choice for cross-border mandates of the highest importance.

Hepp Wenger Ryffel AG 

A gilt-edged adviser on matters of all hues, Hepp Wenger Ryffel is “one of the best firms in Switzerland, for both contentious and non-contentious work. Enormously experienced, impressively responsive and with excellent knowledge in all technical areas, it is the obvious choice for many.” With clients of the calibre of Teva trusting the firm with Swiss infringement matters, Hepp Wenger Ryffel can claim to possess one of the very best courtroom offerings in the country. Meanwhile, the technically versatile outfit’s prosecution patrons traverse a range of fields, including food processing, medical devices, railways, dentistry and polymer manufacturing. All-sector European patent attorney Martin Wilming is widely admired by the market for his “technical understanding”, “deep insight” and “hands-on nature”. He also writes a blog on IP litigation which is spoken of by many peers as “an absolute must-read, the best blog of its kind in Switzerland”. Of counsel René Wenger is a European and Swiss patent attorney with an outstanding aptitude for drafting, opposition and appeal proceedings and litigation support across a broad spectrum of mechanical engineering areas. Christoph Müller also manoeuvres around the mechanical and electrical engineering landscape, with a special emphasis on medical technology. “He is easy to work with, responsive and has a natural feel for international case coordination. Christoph is brilliant. He is incredibly knowledgeable, gives clear-cut and hands-on advice, has excellent strategic skills and possesses the ability to phrase arguments perfectly under severe time pressure.” Organic chemist Andreas Welch cut his teeth at a major pharmaceutical player before joining Hepp Wenger Ryffel; he is described as being “excellent in the life sciences arena – very thorough, and a premier choice for pharmaceutical cases”.

Homburger AG 

“Go-to” outfit Homburger does not spread itself too thinly across Europe, preferring instead to focus on its core mission: providing a patent service to its Swiss clients that is the absolute cream of the crop. The firm’s “excellent reputation in the IP field” is a result of its strength on both sides of the contentious divide; described as “one of the best litigation firms” in the country, it also excels in patent transactional support. Litigator Andri Hess garners a truly spectacular level of positive feedback from the wider market. “He is the best patent professional in Switzerland, an exceptionally good litigator. He knows the ins and outs of patent law like nobody else – his technical skills set him apart.” “Andri is one of the big guys. He has so many important cases, fantastic experience and a great mind. He’s fair in his approach, trying the absolute best for his client but never pushing so hard as to turn the court against him.” IP and IT head Georg Rauber maintains a dual focus on transactional support and litigation. One peer remarks that the “excellent lawyer” will “always fight for the interests of his clients”. Transactional luminary Werner Stieger has seen everything there is to see in Swiss IP, and his counsel is priceless as a result. “He’s absolutely unbelievable, and courts treat him with reverence. He has deep insight.”

Isler & Pedrazzini AG

“It’s among the top, top names in Swiss patent prosecution – you get consistently high quality from all of its practitioners. The work the firm produces is always of the right standard.” Isler & Pedrazzini’s finely tuned, commercially focused patent strategy gives its clients the confidence to innovate, safe in the knowledge that their IP rights will be protected from bean to cup. Physical chemist Tobias Bremi “stands out, for sure – he’s a smart guy, and it’s certainly no coincidence that he has become the Second Ordinary Judge at the Federal Patent Court. He has an excellent knowledge of the procedural aspects of patent litigation – an all-around great attorney.” Physics sage Michael Liebetanz is a crafty IP strategist with excellent knowledge of, and contacts at, the EPO. Natalia Clerc has been a partner at the firm since 2004. She started her career working in laser systems R&D, so is intimately familiar with the technical area within which she advises.

Kasser Schlosser Attorneys at Law

The Lausanne-based lawyers at Kasser Schlosser are contentious dynamos with the ability to present tricky cases with aplomb. The 10-person outfit offers IP representation on a human scale, with every one of its cases receiving ample partner-level attention. Trilingual litigator Ralph Schlosser is a “smart lawyer with a pleasant approach”. Educated in London and Lausanne, his erudite counsel is particularly prized by domestic clients from French-speaking regions.

Keller & Partner Patentanwälte AG

Keller & Partner’s “business-oriented approach” is richly appreciated by those who rely on the partnership for drafting, oppositions and overall IP strategy. The patent attorney team is relatively compact, but punches well above its weight, possessing the technical versatility necessary to cover a broad range of mathematics, physics and life sciences briefs. Post-grant specialist Philipp Rüfenacht has a PhD in theoretical high-energy physics from the University of Bern. One peer describes him as “a smart guy”, adding that “we recommend clients to him without hesitation when we have a conflict of interest”.

Lenz & Staehelin

Zurich, Geneva and Lausanne-based outfit Lenz & Staehelin is active in virtually every technical sector, but excels in complex pharmaceutical patent disputes. The full-service firm has joined the fray on behalf of several high-profile generic manufacturers over the past year, cementing its status as one of the premier choices for a discerning group of clients who know exactly what excellent patent litigation looks like. “Lenz & Staehelin is a wonderful group to work with. Its practitioners know the law in their country, are strategic and think outside the box. They provide the results clients need at any given time, not just the ones they want. It is very hard to find another firm of the same quality.” The partnership’s international connections, extraordinary procedural quality and desire to do a fantastic job sets its litigation and transactional work apart. As another peer enthuses: “You don’t just get the letterhead when you enlist the firm: it provides strong arguments, understands them, develops them and fights each case purely on its technical merits.” Thierry Calame and Lara Dorigo are the pillars upon which the practice rests. Calame is an expert both in complex IP litigation and IP and licensing-related arbitration. He has a master’s in chemistry and is described as “superb”, possessing “deep insight” and “one of those rare examples of an attorney-at-law with a technical background. He’s a top choice in Switzerland.” Dorigo has vast experience in life sciences disputes. “She is highly competent, knows her stuff and takes no nonsense – she’s incredibly smart, a go-to attorney.” Senior associate Peter Ling is fast making a name for himself in the market. “He has an eye for detail, a deep knowledge of the law, and is fabulous at providing practical advice in the context of a global project. He’s still young but very experienced, and he leverages his knowledge extremely well. In ten years he’ll be a huge name in Swiss IP.”

Meyerlustenberger Lachenal Ltd 

Meyerlustenberger Lachenal Ltd handles a truly impressive amount of litigation in the Swiss life sciences and high-tech spaces; it is many global pharmaceutical originators’ first choice – and not without good reason. In June 2018, the firm achieved a landmark Supreme Court decision on behalf of Gilead v Mepha Pharma AG (Teva Group), which affirmed the former’s Swiss supplementary protection certificate and thereby protected sales of Truvada, Gilead’s blockbuster HIV/AIDS treatment. Meyerlustenberger Lachenal’s litigation team has a truly enviable caseload and has made a “huge impact” on the IP scene in general, having also taken centre stage in a crucial FRAND battle of late. Its attorneys Simon Holzer and Michael Ritscher are an “outstanding” team in themselves. Head of patents and life sciences Holzer is a “very savvy litigator, extremely well-connected, and a great lawyer. He is very calm and experienced – a giant in court, both physically and metaphorically.” Ritscher is “one of the outstanding IP arbitrators” and “smooth-talking and convincing” in the courtroom. Together the pair are an almost irresistible force: “Very aggressive in their arguments, they turn every stone and really push – they are truly important players.”

Niederer Kraft Frey

Zurich-based transactional titan Niederer Kraft Frey offers clients complete peace of mind: its practitioners will not sign off on work unless it has been triple checked and never forget that clients’ interests are their number one priority. In 2017 the firm oversaw one of the largest transactions in Switzerland (the sale of Actelion to global behemoth Johnson & Johnson) and has not let up since – it now advises companies of the calibre of ASSA ABLOY and Navistar International Corporation. Eager, trustworthy and always available, Nicolas Birkhäuser is a client’s dream. He can operate across the whole spectrum of technical areas and is in his element negotiating the most complex deals.

Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law Ltd

When push comes to shove, there is nobody that life sciences players would rather have on their side than Pestalozzi. The firm specialises in complex litigation in the medical devices, pharmaceutical and biotech industries, which it combines with an ability to commercialise IP rights across a variety of sectors. Lorenza Ferrari Hofer is head of the firm’s IP group. Qualified in England, Wales and Switzerland, she blends an international focus with a wealth of experience gained structuring IP licensing, arbitration and knowledge transfer agreements. She is described as “a great lawyer – solid, efficient, stellar at her work and solution-oriented”. The “prompt, professional, courteous and very knowledgeable” Thomas Legler heads up the firm’s arbitration team. As a deputy judge of the Federal Patent Court, he is among the most respected names in Swiss intellectual property. Telecoms and IT sage Michèle Burnier never pulls the wool over clients’ eyes, instead dispensing pragmatic advice that sets out the next strategic steps in crystalline detail.

Rentsch Partner Ltd

Zurich-based outfit Rentsch Partner is a pioneer in Swiss intellectual property. The firm’s prescient decision to combine patent attorneys and attorneys at law under one roof has paid dividends, with the practice now enjoying a phenomenal reputation for IP work of all types. The top-notch drafting, filing, arbitration and litigation that awaits those who knock on Rentsch’s door is made possible by a small army of outstanding practitioners. Christian Hilti bears aloft the contentious standard. “He is the great eminence: wise, experienced, and you feel that he has seen every kind of dispute settlement before. Totally calm and unflappable.” His contentious colleague Demian Stauber is cut from the same cloth: “He is like a younger version of Christian in terms of quality – a great patent litigator. Witty, clever and a pleasure to work with, Demian has a very clear writing style and is exceptionally good at quickly understanding unfamiliar technologies.” Clients seek him out for complex engineering and computer sciences matters, especially concerning the Internet of Things or blockchain. On the non-contentious side of the practice, European and Swiss patent attorney Dany Vogel focuses on a broad range of electrical and computer-related technologies. “A good specialist with a deep pool of knowledge, he has an excellent overview of the relevant technical issues and is especially helpful in the early stages of IP development.” Biotech and organic chemistry maven Alfred Köpf is a former Fulbright scholar whose drafting and strategic advice is always of the highest technical quality. “He’s exceptionally good, a patent attorney of rare calibre. Highly intelligent, engaged and absolutely brilliant, he’s a delight to work with. Alfred has tremendous know-how, is cost-efficient and replies quickly as a matter of course.” Louis Lagler is a mechanical engineering genius with the ability to formulate polished patent strategy at the drop of a hat.

Schaad Balass Menzl & Partner AG

Schaad Balass Menzl & Partner’s laser-sharp focus on pharmaceutical and chemicals matters, combined with its “excellent technical knowledge” and fantastic record in EPO procedures, attracts patrons from all corners of Switzerland and beyond. One client with experience of working with patent attorneys around the world deems the outfit to be “among the very top European practitioners – high quality but reasonable in cost, the firm’s understanding of US IP law is detailed and its work always timely”. Versatile organic chemist Cornelia Hoffman has worked at the firm for almost 20 years. “She is pleasant to work with, thorough, experienced and deals with chemical matters extremely well.” European and Swiss patent attorney Christoph Fraefel is both “excellent” at what he does and “a nice guy” to boot; his life sciences prosecution is unfailingly crystalline and delivered on time, every time.

Schellenberg Wittmer

Schellenberg Wittmer is a “highly skilled litigation firm” with outstanding licensing dispute capabilities. A courtroom favourite among major life sciences players, the team also boasts first-rate arbitration capabilities as a result of Philipp Groz’s experience in the area. Groz’s “pragmatic approach” combines with his “strong litigation and technical skills” to form a practitioner that global pharmaceutical giants generally try to enlist before the other side does. Schellenberg Wittmer’s technical expertise extends well beyond life sciences matters; the firm also counts manufacturer WorldConnect AG, tobacco behemoth Philip Morris International and electronics innovator Hetronic International in its varied list of patrons.

ThomannFischer 

ThomannFischer is a top-notch IP destination that can list prosecution, litigation and transactional counsel as part of its wall-to-wall offering. The group has enjoyed particularly strong results this year before the EPO, where its specific, client-focused approach has paid dividends in appeals and oppositions procedures. Electronics and telecoms sage Fabian Leimgruber is a European and Swiss patent attorney par excellence; his representation in arbitration tribunals, office actions and other types of proceeding is a valuable commodity. Attorney at law Daniel Plüss also adds value to whatever he touches. With proficiency in English, French and German, he is a true internationalist and a magnet for clients hailing from all corners of the continent.

TIMES Attorneys

TIMES Attorneys is an all-sector IP litigation firm on the rise. The recruitment of Swiss IP legend Andrea Mondini in 2017 has propelled the boutique to new heights; it now does a booming line in generic pharmaceutical representation, with Mepha Pharma and Actavis among the latest recipients of the firm’s sterling work. Mondini himself enjoys a stunning reputation for this type of case. “He is undoubtedly one of the top IP practitioners in Switzerland – a great team player, very responsive and extraordinarily experienced. He is also a renowned mediator and arbitrator whose experience makes him the right person to negotiate contractual and settlement issues.” “Andrea is a quiet guy, but absolutely lovely. He is a perfectionist and holds himself to extremely high standards. He’s clever and thorough.”

Walder Wyss

Walder Wyss is a full-service commercial law firm with excellent geographical reach and a wealth of talented practitioners. Clients whose IP issues have antitrust or regulatory dimensions are amply catered for, since the outfit is able to create bespoke teams for each and every brief that comes through the door. Stefano Codoni heads up the Lugano office. He zeroes in on IP-rich high-tech and life sciences transactions, often acting as an arbitrator in briefs of this type. Roger Staub brings valuable international experience to every IP-rich contract he pores over, having spent time practicing in London before coming to Zurich. Markus Frick worked in a New York law office earlier in his career and is invariably able to provide “very good tactical analyses” of IP strategies from all technical fields.

Other recommended experts

Nater Dallafior’s Mathis Berger is “a very good IP litigator” whose legal acumen is not confined solely to intellectual property. His capabilities in unfair competition and antitrust law make him a sought-after specialist whose erudite advice is always legally well founded. Tarik Kapic of Bovard Ltd is a “very dynamic” patent attorney whose computer science background and outstanding language skills make him the perfect companion for IP-rich companies looking to make a mark on the European stage. VISCHER’s Stefan Kohler has a “solid technical background” in the healthcare, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, cosmetics and foodstuffs spaces that are his technical home. He is as effective in the backroom as he is in the courtroom. Luminary Patrick Troller of the eponymous Troller Hitz Troller has been a partner at the firm since 1979; his sparkling all-sector patent prosecution is born of deep experience. Troesch Scheidegger Werner AG’s André Werner serves as a part-time judge at the Swiss Federal Patent Court – a sure indicator of his finely honed IP knowledge and mastery of the patent attorney craft. Christoph Willi of Streichenberg Attorneys at Law is often sought out by generic pharmaceutical clients in need of measured, clear-headed counsel in their biggest disputes. Having been educated in Zurich and New York, he brings an international flavour to the firm.

Individuals: litigation

Individuals: prosecution

Individuals: transactions

  • Nicola Benz - Froriep Legal AG
  • Mathis Berger - Nater Dallafior Rechtsanwälte AG
  • Nicolas Birkhäuser - Niederer Kraft Frey
  • Thierry Calame - Lenz & Staehelin
  • Stefano Codoni - Walder Wyss
  • Lorenza Ferrari Hofer - Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law Ltd
  • Andri Hess - Homburger AG 
  • Stefan Kohler - VISCHER AG
  • Thomas Legler - Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law Ltd
  • Georg Rauber - Homburger AG 
  • Roger Staub - Walder Wyss
  • Markus Wang - Bär & Karrer

Luminaries