Switzerland

Named as the world’s most innovative nation by the World Intellectual Property Organisation two years in a row, Switzerland looks set to retain its crown in 2020: the IP regime became even more favourable for inventors and companies seeking to unleash their creative potential when the ‘patent box’ came into effect on 1 January. The incentive aims to reduce cantonal corporate income tax rates on patent-derived profits by up to 90%; cantons can also apply for further reductions of up to 50% in relation to R&D expenditure activities performed within the country. The future of the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property appears equally bright: it is modernising its register; grants are on a stable trajectory; and recent legislative revisions have extended the terms of supplementary protection certificates (SPCs), aligning Swiss protocol with European Court of Justice case law. The country’s practitioners are already ahead of the game when it comes to the patent world’s hottest topics, as some have already sunk their teeth into precedent-setting cases in the artificial intelligence, biosimilar and fintech spaces.

Firms: litigation

Firms: prosecution

Firms: transactions

Bär & Karrer

Operating out of Geneva, Lugano, Zug and Zurich, Bär & Karrer is a prime destination for multifaceted transactions. It has all three of the country’s main languages covered and offers robust, business-minded support to multinational corporations in their licensing endeavours. IP department spearhead and co-captain of the life sciences group Markus Wang “is efficient, hands-on and fully dedicated to the cause. He has a great sense of predicting the outcome of each case and lays down the facts for his clients”. Outsourcing and R&D agreements are a forte.

E Blum & Co AG

“The volume of work that E Blum & Co undertakes is astonishing and it still manages to come out on top every time.” The prosecution powerhouse has been a stable presence on the market for over 140 years and has built up a deep bench of talent over the years. “A patent attorney you want on your side in contentious matters, Kurt Sutter has a fantastic understanding of mechanics and really grapples with the technical issues.” He also sits as a part-time judge at the Swiss Federal Patent Court along with Regula Rüedi, “a leading light in the chemistry sector” who is “absolutely brilliant at unravelling complicated matters”.

FMP Fuhrer Marbach & Partners

Highly regarded for its first-class performances in heated disputes, Bern-based FMP Fuhrer Marbach & Partners adopts a commercially on-point approach to all instructions, keeping client goals and budgets front and centre. The star attraction here is the “super-skilled” Peter Widmer, an “outstanding litigator” whose convincing arguments are underpinned by creative strategies.

Hepp Wenger Ryffel AG 

“One of the elite patent attorney groups in Switzerland and internationally, Hepp Wenger Ryffel is an obvious choice for prosecution and technical support in the most challenging cases. They are wonderfully responsive, incredibly skilled across all areas and combine it all into a cost-effective package.” Christoph Müller is a key player in the medical technology field and a repository of trust for the likes of Abbott Laboratories. “Christoph provides in-depth analyses of complicated issues very quickly – he is able to explain complex engineering points well and can respond to counterarguments on the spot.” Colleague Martin Wilming never misses a legal development and “performs outstandingly in court, where he can rebut any argument that is thrown at him. He is a great partner to have – he is efficient, on time and finds creative paths that lead to a successful outcome”. He recently linked up with Andreas Welch to assist Polymetrix in US proceedings. “A go-to for pharmaceutical matters”, Welch brings valuable industry insight and a keen sense for managing global litigation to the table. IAM Patent 1000 newcomer Susanna Ruder “leaves peers in awe of her mechanical engineering and legal skillset. She always looks out for clients’ best interests and is a pleasure to collaborate with”.

Homburger AG 

“For complex patent litigation, no one does it better than Homburger.” Its breadth of expertise is undeniable and its track record flawless. The set has just enjoyed yet another banner year, enforcing Illumina’s rights against Genoma in a cross-border spat and defending crown-jewel assets of Edwards Lifesciences and Sandoz. Pharmaceuticals is not the team’s only happy hunting ground, however – as reflected by its stellar performance enforcing mechanical movement patents on behalf of the Swatch Group and CSEM. Taking a lead on all four mandates was “first-class litigator Andri Hess. One of the stars on the market, he is exceptional at what he does. He is one of the most experienced lawyers in the country and puts up a tough fight, but discussions with him flow perfectly and he is easy to work with”. Equally adept at handling high-end disputes and transactions is IP and IT head Georg Rauber. He vigorously pursues clients’ objectives without ever losing sight of the wider picture.

Isler & Pedrazzini AG

“Excellent and dynamic” is the verdict on Isler & Pedrazzini. Start-ups and multinationals alike receive a top-drawer service from its technically gifted attorneys at a competitive price point. Tobias Bremi, Michael Liebetanz and Natalia Clerc form a dream team, deftly securing premium patent protection through bespoke strategies. Physical chemist Bremi has an encyclopaedic knowledge of legal proceedings and sits as a second ordinary judge at the Federal Patent Court. Managing partner Liebetanz’s mastery of physics shines through in the applications he drafts. Having started out in the R&D department of Haas Laser Systems, Clerc has an intuitive grasp of her specialist subject.

Kasser Schlosser Attorneys at Law

Top Lausanne commercial firm Kasser Schlosser draws on a rich seam of IP talent and has been flourishing in contentious settings under the stewardship of Ralph Schlosser. “Well respected in the field, Ralph brings a lot of experience and a pragmatic approach to every brief he takes on. He works efficiently, responds quickly and shows a real interest in the technical aspects of each case. His fluency in French, German and English means he knocks it out of the park in any court in the country.”

Lenz & Staehelin

“Life sciences disputes are a speciality for Lenz & Staehelin.” Widely renowned for its courtroom prowess, there is no mandate too large or too tough for its legion of battle-hardened litigators. The full-service outfit is home to more than 200 lawyers who exceed every expectation and navigate tricky regulatory and legal proceedings with consummate ease. “Thierry Calame and Lara Dorigo always hit the nail on the head. Their pleadings are of the highest standard – they are structured, succinct and really bring the point home.” A master’s in chemistry ensures that Calame’s arguments are always well founded; he also has a flair for the fine print of licensing agreements. “Absolutely remarkable”, Dorigo relishes solving technology-related conundrums, not least when drafting R&D agreements. Completing this triumvirate of dispute resolution specialists is healthcare maven Peter Ling, “a star on the rise and definitely one to keep on your radar”.

Meyerlustenberger Lachenal Ltd 

“You can always count on Meyerlustenberger to do a fantastic job. It has one of the most skilled IP teams in Switzerland – proactive, pragmatic and consistently conscious of their clients’ concerns.” The ensemble never shies away from a challenge and executes on precedent-setting cases with confidence and poise. It recently represented Sunshine Software Development in the country’s first blockchain patent litigation; and it routinely acquits itself with distinction in SPC disputes, as evidenced by its victory for Viiv Healthcare against Sandoz Pharmaceuticals.  Simon Holzer and Michael Ritscher provide inspired leadership: “The finest courtroom advocates in town, their diligence and creativity are unmatched anywhere on the market. They consider wider business objectives when creating strategies and are a pleasure to work with.” The pair recently joined forces with IAM Patent 1000 debutant Kilian Schärli to assist AstraZeneca before the Federal Patent Court and the Supreme Court. “There is no one else with a deeper understanding of SPCs than Kilian – he is spot-on in his advice and comes up with tactical solutions. Reliable and down to earth, he is attuned to the needs of patrons and his appointment to the partnership is only a confirmation of his qualities.” The firm recently welcomed Ulrike Ciesla to the fold. A European and German patent attorney with a Chemistry PhD, she brings an additional strength to the firm with her non-contentious prowess and technical dexterity

Niederer Kraft Frey

The dealmakers par excellence at Niederer Kraft Frey are no strangers to high-value transactions, which they broker with finesse for market-leading players. Of late, they have guided the likes of Procter & Gamble and ASSA Abloy through rocky negotiating terrain, and helped to get joint venture and licensing agreements signed for premier bioscience corporation Chr Hansen Holding. With his potent blend of competition, commercial and IP law know-how, Nicolas Birkhäuser provides holistic counsel that is widely sought after. He has a knack for hunting out promising commercialisation opportunities and is a judicious problem solver when crucial assets are on the line.

Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law

Agile commercial law outfit Pestalozzi packs a punch in enforcement scenarios and gets lucrative deals inked in the medical devices, pharmaceutical and biotech industries. Patrons can rest assured that the team stands willing to fight their corner no matter what the brief. Leading the IP division with verve is Lorenza Ferrari Hofer, who has R&D agreements down to a fine art. She often advises on regulatory and legal matters in the life sciences, and the firm’s dedicated industry division is flourishing under her watchful eye. Between them, Geneva-based duo Michèle Burnier and Thomas Legler have a wealth of knowledge in the telecommunications and IT industries. Burnier has an instinct for anticipating her opponents’ next move, devising impenetrable patenting strategies and negotiating big-ticket agreements for clients. Legler oversees the arbitration practice and “always impresses with his versatile skillset”. He also sits as a deputy judge at the Federal Patent Court and is widely respected among the community.

Rentsch Partner Ltd

Rentsch Partner understands the value of having comprehensive patent expertise under one roof, which is why it recruits both patent attorneys and attorneys at law. When it comes to contentious firepower, “infringers have the toughest adversaries” in Christian Hilti and Demian Stauber. “The superb litigators never show their cards too early and definitely give you a run for your money.” In a career spanning more than three decades, Hilti has chalked up a litany of academic achievements, trial victories and prominent speaking engagements. “Stauber’s prominence on the Swiss IP scene increases by the day”; owners of technology-related patents would be hard pressed to find better counsel. On the prosecution side, Dany Vogel, Alfred Köpf and Louis Lagler form a trio that is hard to beat. Armed with degrees in electrical engineering and computer science, “Vogel is a first-class practitioner and the applications he drafts are a thing of beauty”. Life sciences and mechanics are strong suits for Köpf, a Fulbright scholar and font of industry-acquired wisdom. The former president of the Association of Swiss Patent and Trademark Attorneys, Lagler is a mechanical engineer of the highest order; the patents he works on are invariably built to last.

Schaad Balass Menzl & Partner AG

A true partner to inventors, dynamic start-ups and industry heavyweights alike, Schaad Balass Menzl & Partner is forward thinking and resolutely focused on quality. The pharmaceutical and chemical sectors are where its gifted practitioners truly thrive. Life sciences guru Cornelia Hoffmann “is wonderful to partner up with. She is highly experienced, efficient and thorough”. Hoffmann is joined by biochemist Christoph Fraefel, a European and Swiss patent attorney who delivers impeccable applications and robust support in contentious settings.

Schellenberg Wittmer

Blue-chips in the pharmaceuticals, medical devices and technology sectors entrust Schellenberg Wittmer with bet-the-company litigation and high-rolling transactional mandates. For example, Phillip Morris International entrusts the firm with all of its patent needs; and the team recently advised Santhera Pharmaceuticals on an intricate multi-jurisdictional licensing deal. These successes were in no small part due to the efforts of Philipp Groz, whose IP expertise is complemented by unfair competition, regulatory and distribution know-how. “At every step of the way, Philipp provides prompt and effective advice which is easily digestible. His work is top-notch and he has a strong grasp of the technical principles. He quickly gains the unshakeable trust of the companies he assists.” The arrival of esteemed academic Peter Georg Picht has further bolstered the practice; his affinity for the law and the theoretical underpinnings of regulations allows him to devise fruitful long-term strategies.

ThomannFischer 

The A-to-Z offering at ThomannFischer provides everything needed to steer clients through the entire patent lifecycle, whether they be SMEs, international giants or anything in between. It has the technical chops to handle even the most complex instructions in fields ranging from software and business models to emerging technologies and pharmaceuticals. European and Swiss patent attorney Fabian Leimgruber “combines a deep understanding of clients’ business models with superb legal and technical skills, making him an ideal provider of strategic insight and practical advice. He is also a great sparring partner to bounce new ideas off. Fabian has truly earned his remarkable reputation as a pre-eminent prosecutor and litigator”. Attorney at law Daniel Plüss prepares and presents persuasive pleadings and keeps his cool in the hardest-fought trials.

TIMES Attorneys

Single-minded in its dedication to the highest quality standards, TIMES Attorneys is committed to providing a superior IP service. It packs a punch in enforcement and has quickly risen up the rankings for its spirited representation of generic pharmaceuticals. The man of the hour is Andrea Mondini, who has lately been busy acting for Develco Pharma and Teva subsidiary Mepha Pharma, among others. “Andrea comes highly recommended to any company facing a significant dispute – he will find a way out of the most difficult situations. An excellent lawyer and the country’s sharpest litigator, he is responsive, client oriented and provides excellent strategic advice. Along with his profound legal expertise, he thoroughly immerses himself in the technical details of the case – a pleasure to work with through and through.”

Walder Wyss

Full-service firm Walder Wyss has a comprehensive catalogue of resources at its fingertips. With over 220 tech-savvy experts on deck, it puts together multi-disciplinary teams as needed to provide joined-up counsel in hard-hitting disputes and fraught licensing negotiations. “They get down to the crux of the issues quickly, advise on multiple options but ultimately arrive at the correct solution.” Captain of the IP unit Markus Frick “really hits the ground running. He makes a lot of progress in a quick turnaround and collaborating with him is a smooth and efficient process. A fantastic litigator, he looks to achieve common goals in a timely and outstandingly targeted manner”. Fluent in English, French, German and Spanish, Roger Staub is a favourite among international corporations. The versatile practitioner knows how to turn up the heat in court; but as an arbitrator, he also seeks out opportunities for optimal settlement. Medical doctor and attorney at law Andreas Wildi is a key contributor to the set’s life sciences capabilities and the darling of Dow Jones and Nasdaq-listed multinationals. Heading up the Lugano branch is Stefano Codoni, a transactional ace with abundant experience in the technology sector.

Other recommended experts

Working out of FRORIEP, Nicola Benz is an astute negotiator and a good choice for technology transactions. At BOVARD, Swiss and European patent attorney Tarik Kapić “provides a comprehensive analysis to any brief while responding quickly to any query you may have”. Mechanical watches and communication technologies are fortes. VISCHER’s Stefan Kohler executes mandates with exquisite precision and provides perspicacious counsel in disputes relating to biotechnology and healthcare – areas where he also brokers lucrative deals for clients. “A prominent name on the market and stellar litigator, Rudolf A Rentsch combines his scientific and legal background to great success.” He is based at IPrime. Over at Keller & Partner, the “incredibly bright and collaborative” Philipp Rüfenacht is a dab hand in opposition proceedings and specialises in theoretical high energy physics. Founder of P&TS and electrical engineer “Christophe Saam puts in tremendous work. He explains technicalities in a way that is easy to understand and lawyers love working with him”. Troesch Scheidegger Werner’s André Werner has had an eclectic career: a part-time judge at the Federal Patent Court, he is also a mechanical engineer and former fast jet pilot. Another non-permanent judge of the Swiss Federal Patent Court, Christoph Willi of Streichenberg Attorneys at Law draws on deep reserves of knowledge to get the right results in high-stakes pharmaceutical litigation.

Individuals: litigation

Individuals: prosecution

Individuals: transactions

  • Nicola Benz - FRORIEP
  • Nicolas Birkhäuser - Niederer Kraft Frey
  • Thierry Calame - Lenz & Staehelin
  • Stefano Codoni - Walder Wyss
  • Lorenza Ferrari Hofer - Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Peter Georg Picht - Schellenberg Wittmer
  • Philipp Groz - Schellenberg Wittmer
  • Andri Hess - Homburger AG 
  • Stefan Kohler - VISCHER AG
  • Thomas Legler - Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Georg Rauber - Homburger AG 
  • Kilian Schärli - Meyerlustenberger Lachenal Ltd
  • Roger Staub - Walder Wyss
  • Markus Wang - Bär & Karrer