Switzerland

One of the main talking points among Swiss IP practitioners is the appointment of Mark Schweizer as president of the Swiss Federal Patent Court, which became effective as of January 1 2018; commentators are curious to see how the former Meyerlustenberger Lachenal practitioner will further the development and success of the court. Caseloads at the tribunal have been steady of late and even showing slight signs of increasing; Swiss companies are confident in the decisions being issued and appreciate the speed with which disputes are resolved. While the majority of cases end in settlements, there have been some notable jurisprudential developments; in a rare instance of the Swiss Supreme Court getting involved in patent law, it brought clarity to the doctrine of equivalents when it ruled in favour of Eli Lilly in its dispute with Actavis over an anti-cancer drug. The Unified Patent Court (UPC) is another hot topic, of course – practitioners are uncertain as to how Switzerland will be affected by the UPC’s entry into force and are preparing for the potential of both an increase and decrease in domestic patent litigation.

Firms: litigation

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

Firms: prosecution

  • Highly recommended
  • E Blum & Co AG
  • Hepp Wenger Ryffel AG 
  • Isler & Pedrazzini AG
  • Rentsch Partner Ltd
  • Schaad Balass Menzl & Partner AG
  • Recommended
  • Frei Patent Attorneys
  • Keller & Partner Patentanwälte AG
  • ThomannFischer 
  • Troesch Scheidegger Werner AG

Firms: transactions

Bär & Karrer Ltd 

Counting major pharmaceutical outfits among its enviable client portfolio, Bär & Karrer is an expert conductor in the transactional space, issuing pin-precise contractual and commercial counsel. When thrashing out complex licensing and technology transfer deals, parties inevitably summon thorny issues to the fore; in response, the streamlined IP department “delivers both quantity and quality” to prevent talks from flying off the rails. “Always keeping the best interests of clients in mind, the quick, business-oriented Markus Wang is excellent when closing a deal.” Peers rave over both Wang’s ability and his personality, with one enthusing of the IP head: “He’s brilliant. I like him and I like working with him.”

E Blum & Co AG

“A rock-solid player on the Swiss IP scene for decades”, E Blum & Co is a “well-established and traditional” source of patent prosecution services to leading players over myriad industries. To these clients its adds value though robust intelligence and an ace transactional capacity. From a team that knows the ins and outs of any technology that crosses its path, Kurt Sutter is “the go-to guy”. He has “a sharp technical mind, with a particular aptitude for mechanics” and his “extreme precision” is incredibly valuable. Sutter sits as a judge at the Swiss Patent Court alongside colleague Regula Rüedi. When not adjudicating disputes, Rüedi is sought after for her grasp of various scientific schools of thought and applies her “excellent expertise” to particularly great effect in the supplementary protection space. Adding his electrical engineering ability to the talent pool, attorney at law Rainer Schalch is a dominant force in litigation, a skilled prosecutor and arbitrator and a sought-after court expert.

FMP Fuhrer Marbach & Partners

“Swiss intellectual property’s great conqueror”, Fuhrer Marbach & Partners consistently emerges victorious in courtroom challenges for the country’s small and mid-sized enterprises. A highly skilled line-up of attorneys at law draws on its IP specialisms and expertise across a host of complimentary legal fields to earn a reputation as a highly proficient, cost-effective contentious actor. Collaboration with external technical experts ensures flexibility and guarantees that no battlefield is off limits. An effective courtroom champion, Peter Widmer comes recommended for his litigation talents. He channels decades of experience into impressive performances in complex instructions.

Frei Patent Attorneys

From its Zurich base, prosecution outfit Frei Patent Attorneys assists its clients in developing commercially focused, internationally oriented IP strategies. Responsible for maintaining and expanding extensive patent portfolios, the team works alongside a network of associates – both domestic and foreign – to ensure that its clients’ IP rights are protected come rain or shine. The set’s eminent squad of attorneys is qualified across engineering and life sciences disciplines and relishes sharing its wealth of knowledge the world over. An erstwhile president of the Swiss Federation of Private Practice Patent Attorneys in Switzerland and a former lecturer in the field, Peter Walser is an expert intellectual asset manager. Qualified to practise before the European Patent Office, the physics sage comes highly recommended for his savvy approach to prosecution and enforcement.

FRORIEP Legal

Formalising its association with the star patent players at Rentsch Partner, FRORIEP deploys its full-service offering to superb effect, concluding a host of cutting-edge technology-based IP negotiations for fintech and IT operations. Prosecution and litigation instructions are shared with its new collaborator, while the troupe’s forward-thinking technology-centric approach combines with corporate, banking, tax and contractual know-how across its many divisions to cement its status as a transactional must-hire. Nicola Benz sees to it that even the most complex joint ventures and contractual agreements are concluded smoothly and without issue. She boasts particular experience in handcrafting complex licensing agreements for medical device manufacturers.

Hepp Wenger Ryffel AG 

“One of the foremost Swiss IP departments”, Hepp Wenger Ryffel comes highly recommended for prosecution – and is “among the best in litigation” as well, contributing its “sharp and innovative” technical counsel in “a striking number of the patent cases before the Swiss courts”. From the “well-established, impressive” Wil-located office, a host of “young, fresh and up-and-coming” talent takes on a wide catalogue of drafting and portfolio management instructions from the medical device and food-processing industries and expertly executes them on the international stage. The firm undertakes contentious work primarily for the pharmaceutical industry, which values the supplementary protection expertise on offer. A panacea for all that troubles the healthcare sector, Martin Wilming is a rights guardian who bulldozes through oppositions and appeals at the European Patent Office. Peers cite the attorney (and the blog he authors) as a reference point for Swiss patent litigation. “A clever, smart and friendly professional, he gets quickly acquainted with all relevant details of a case, communicates them intelligibly and showcases his excellent legal knowledge in infringement suits.” Wiling often teams up with fellow chemistry maestro Andreas Welch to form a “highly skilled, experienced” duo that is “very easy to collaborate with”, and which recently has successfully shielded both Teva and Actavis from infringement claims brought by innovative rivals. Sought after for his far-reaching scientific knowledge, Welch demonstrates a finely honed commercial capacity in his carefully crafted solutions. “Responsive and inventive”, Christoph Müller is an IP polymath who elegantly crosses from contentious to non-contentious instructions at the drop of a hat. René Wenger has spent decades answering the call of construction, textile and precision engineering players, providing them with “smart, to-the-point” advice.

Homburger AG 

“One of Switzerland’s best law firms”, Homburger delivers on the promise of an extensive IP cast, sweeping the board in both contentious and non-contentious briefs. “The backbone of a strong litigation capacity, its experienced personnel know what they’re doing in tense situations.” Life sciences and pharmaceuticals players confess a particular fondness for the tech-savvy practice; it has recently been fighting for the rights of Illumina in proceedings before the Federal Patent Court and also secured victory for Nestlé against an infringer of its Nespresso patent. Captaining both campaigns is “serious litigator” Andri Hess. “When you meet Andri in court, you know it’s going to be a hard fight”, confesses one weary opponent. “He is, without doubt, one of the best on the pharmaceutical landscape. He takes a straightforward, hands-on approach to any technology he defends, and he is always right.” Commercially minded clients treasure Hess’s “energy, creativity and understanding of how business works and how to protect it”. Georg Rauber splits his remarkable talents across competition, regulatory and IP divisions – taking command of the last. His tireless labours in both litigation and transactional spheres are invaluable to the group’s following. A transactional master, senior counsel Werner Stieger remains a preeminent name in the Swiss IP scene. The former lecturer continues to write extensively on IP issues.

Isler & Pedrazzini AG

“A well-established blue-chip law firm” Isler & Pedrazzini earns itself a “strong reputation in patent prosecution”, combining the “extensive know-how” of its talented young team with a constantly improving digital infrastructure to deliver a comprehensive and cost-effective service. Noting the ensemble’s expertise across a near-perfect array of scientific disciplines, peers cite the team’s “very strong position on the market” when labelling it “among the favourites to refer our clients when conflicts of interest arise”. The “leading professional” among an excellent line-up, Tobias Bremi strides effortlessly across physics and chemistry worlds. A “fast thinker, intelligent and experienced”, he “gets hands-on in prosecution and enforcement work” when not adjudicating disputes in the Federal Patent Court. Likewise Natalia Clerc, who shares Bremi’s zeal for instructions in which she can deploy her impressive physics knowledge. Mirroring the technical focus of both his colleagues, Michael Liebetanz does “a fantastic job” of running the operation. “He’s a profoundly experienced, first-rate attorney.”

Kasser Schlosser Attorneys at Law

Coming to the aid of a plethora of industrial actors in myriad international disputes, Kasser Schlosser has been steadily increasing its share of the contentious patent market. Pragmatic and personal in approach, the well-oiled litigation mechanism runs like clockwork, delivering watertight IP strategy and ticking all the boxes for pharmaceutical players, as well as Switzerland’s luxury watch manufacturers. Domestic concerns from French-speaking regions are in safe hands with fluent operator Ralph Schlosser, an “excellent professional” who also serves as a judge at the Federal Patent Court and frequently writes on civil procedure and IP issues.

Keller & Partner Patentanwälte AG

Swooping in to deliver tailored prosecution and enforcement services to Switzerland’s core domestic players, Zurich, Keller & Partner secures iron-clad rights protection for software and high-tech outfits. A new office in Germany opens international doors for its loyal following, while the ample resources necessary for drafting, opposition, strategy and searches nationally are already well established. Its team – including three associate judges at the Federal Patent Court – offers valuable insight in litigation as well, transposing its keen strategic approach into a courtroom setting when required. With extensive expertise across disciplines both mainstream and niche, Philipp Rüfenacht is “a knowledgeable and fantastic patent attorney”; he comes “recommended without hesitation” by peers, who cite his aptitude for both technical and legal concepts.

Lenz & Staehelin

“Renowned across the Swiss IP scene” for its remarkable in-house talent and commercial orientation, Lenz & Staehelin is a “sleek, well-established” outfit, home to “an incredibly strong patent litigation team” that carries one side’s burden “in all the most important cases”. Built around “star players” Thierry Calame and Lara Dorigo, the squad acts for major pharmaceutical players including Sanofi and Actavis; one or both of these cornerstone litigators has been essential to a swathe of impressive victories. Opposition, infringement and preliminary injunction proceedings hold little trepidation for the two lawyers, for whom complex issues such as biosimilars and supplementary protection certificates are all in a day’s work. “One of Switzerland’s top patent litigators and go-to for biotechnology players”, Calame maintains “a broad network and immense respect” in the courts and among his peers. “He holds particular appeal for in-house technical experts, with whom he converses in their language.” Dorigo, meanwhile, boasts extensive knowledge and experience, and receives a well-earned promotion to the silver tier in 2018. Both are “proficient litigators who know the courts, the ministries and agencies like the back of their hands”. Joining his colleagues in the IAM Patent 1000 for the first time, Peter Ling is “an incredible attorney” who stands out for his “strategic advice and accomplished coordination of international patent litigation cases”.

Meyerlustenberger Lachenal Ltd 

Known for their no-nonsense approach in the courtroom, the “experienced patent litigators” at Meyerlustenberger Lachenal “fight tooth and nail for their clients’ rights”, winning remarkable victories along the way. Obtaining an extraordinary ex parte preliminary injunction on behalf of pharmaceutical titan Gilead Sciences stands foremost among its many highlights over the last year, although resounding successes in the software, telecoms and IT arenas are almost commonplace. A five-star general to the experienced team, Michael Ritscher is a “well-seasoned and business-oriented professional, boasting a deep knowledge of Swiss IP law”. He is a decisive force both nationally and in cross-border matters. Matching Ritscher on the quality scale, part-time Federal Patent Court judge Simon Holzer boasts “an excellent reputation in his chosen field”. He possesses “vast experience and a complete knowledge of patent law”, which he showcases in his capacity as a sought-after adviser on technology transfer agreements and regulatory matters. This year, Ritscher and Holzer’s colleague Mark Schweizer was inducted as president at the Federal Patent Court.

Niederer Kraft & Frey Ltd

The streamlined IP set at Niederer Kraft & Frey earns itself a place in the IAM Patent 1000 for the first time this year, having made a name for itself overseeing the sale of Actelion to healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson and the conscious uncoupling of Actelion’s R&D division from its parent company. Further high-profile instructions in the transactional space for life sciences, mechanics and aviation players round out a fantastic year for the ensemble, which is led by IP champion Nicolas Birkhäuser. Complex licensing agreements and acquisitions are Birkhäuser’s bread and butter and he is at his most comfortable when at the negotiating table, showcasing his remarkable grasp of commercial and IP law.

Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law Ltd

When it is not hammering out IP-heavy deals for its ardent domestic fan base or arbitrating high-stakes patent disputes, Pestalozzi can be found before the European Patent Office, plying the board of appeal with rock-solid arguments. Although infringement proceedings are uncommon, the set demonstrates its mastery in these whenever required. Taking point on the group’s IP instructions is multilingual Lorenza Ferrari Hofer, who is the last word in licensing law and an expert in life sciences matters. Undertaking a significant volume of high-stakes instructions alongside his part-time judicial role, Thomas Legler earns his place in the IAM Patent 1000 for the first time. “One of the few Swiss attorneys to combine expertise in both patent law and arbitration”, he “has amassed vast experience in international settings and is always a pleasure to work alongside”.

Rentsch Partner Ltd

“One of the very few Swiss law firms to host patent attorneys in-house,” Rentsch Partner deploys this rare capacity to astonishing effect across both prosecution and litigation briefs, applying the valuable lessons it learns in each towards constant upgrades of its near-panoptical offering. Drawing on the technological savoir faire brought to the table by collaborator FRORIEP, the firm is a premier destination for non-contentious instructions from any sector; in this area, part-time judges Alfred Köpf and Dany Vogel stand out. Putting his biology and mechanical engineering credentials to good use, Köpf straddles the line between attorney and academic, prosecuting patents for industrial players and lecturing students at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. “A fantastic attorney”, Vogel comes recommended for his “top-quality patent expertise” and has made a name for himself as an IT specialist on the cross-departmental blockchain supergroup. “An efficient drafter with far-reaching technical comprehension”, founding partner Louis Lagler is kept close by a diverse array of players, which value his “reliability and responsiveness”, as well as his background in mechanical engineering. In contentious briefs, Christian Hilti is “one of the leading specialists in Switzerland”. He is “easy to work with, a fantastic attorney at law” and completes the resident trio of non-permanent judges. Whether in nullity, opposition or infringement, “rising star” Demian Stauber is “a brilliant lawyer and litigator”; so great is his expertise in IP strategy that, alongside his litigation and licensing work, he assists clients in drafting patents that stand up to the most intense scrutiny.

Schaad Balass Menzl & Partner AG

Pint-sized IP firm Schaad Balass Menzl punches well above its weight to deliver a stellar patent prosecution service. Having wrapped up a stream of litigation support over the last 12 months, the set stands poised and ready to contribute its “comprehensive understanding of its clients’ inventions” to courtroom clashes whenever required. However, it is the firm’s “clear, complete and timely” non-contentious delivery that continues to put food on the table. Of its execution, one foreign associate effervesces: “Work is always completed punctually, according to our wishes and with valuable insight into European IP law that enhances the scope of protection for our clients.” Serving a queue of international life sciences actors, Cornelia Hoffman doles out solutions from her scientific playbook in four different languages. Sharing much of his colleague’s focuses, Christoph Fraefel receives praise for his particular talents in biotech and chemistry, and stands out for his performance in nullity and opposition proceedings, as well as the vital intelligence that he provides through expert reports.

Schellenberg Wittmer

Playing a decisive role in over one-third of disputes fought before the Swiss Federal Patent Court, Schellenberg Wittmer is a natural favourite among the pharmaceutical sector. One foreign associate stresses: “We chose them based on their top-notch reputation and they deliver on this promise.” Providing its clients’ shelter from the storm in both litigation and transactions, the ensemble is also “one of the best in arbitration” – a quality guaranteed by the “talented and prominent” lawyer Philipp Groz. Taking the reins of the IP practice following the departure of Andrea Mondini at the end of last year, the “skilled and experienced” attorney at law impresses his devotees with technical insight and strategy.

ThomannFischer 

Championing the IP rights of Switzerland’s small to medium-sized enterprises, one-stop shop ThomannFischer is a patent prosecution veteran that delivers cost-effective and tailored services in drafting, infringement and nullity actions. The quick-witted patent duo of Fabian Leimgruber and Daniel Plüss keep their fingers firmly on the pulse of the new technology scene and are up to the task no matter how niche the invention sent their way. Qualified to practise as both patent attorney and lawyer, Leimgruber is “a first-rate prosecutor and litigator who confidently guides clients through complex issues and provides well-founded advice in cross-border licensing and technology transfer negotiations”. With reams of experience litigating for the chemical and mechanics industries, Attorney at law Plüss adds further proficiency in courtroom and transactional settings, neatly complementing the talents of his colleague.

TIMES Attorneys

Rocketing onto the patent scene with the arrival of gold-tier litigator Andrea Mondini, TIMES Attorneys also earns its inclusion in the IAM Patent 1000 for the first time. Arriving in style, the young boutique has rapidly brought on board “a very capable team of lawyers” who do “fantastic work”, and whose peers watch them with great interest, keen to see how they evolve. “Excellent at finding economically viable solutions” to all that plagues the pharmaceutical industry, Mondini is an expert in complex cross-border instructions. Hailed unanimously by peers at home and abroad as an “excellent colleague”, he draws on his “high technical and legal skill as well as extensive experience in both litigation and licensing” to represent a cohort of generic manufacturers that are desperate for his input.

Troesch Scheidegger Werner AG

Operating under the TSW Pat! banner, Troesch Scheidegger Werner’s IP practice wields its extensive prosecution arsenal on behalf of small and medium-sized clients across the country. Drawing on the expertise of an eminently qualified internal line-up and a handpicked network of foreign associates, the troop acts as a forward-thinking, comprehensive IP department to innovators without the resources to maintain their own. The squad takes care to ask the most crucial questions about clients’ IP strategy, then provides cost-effective and efficient answers for electrical, mechanical and scientific instructions through its cross-disciplinary talents. Appearing for the first time in the IAM Patent 1000, André Werner is the man to talk to for all things mechanical. A former fighter pilot, he now puts his sharpened reflexes to use as a non-permanent judge in the Federal Patent Court.

Walder Wyss

Boasting offices in all three of Switzerland’s linguistic regions, Walder Wyss is an easily accessible offering both geographically and linguistically; it confidently jumps hurdles in both litigation and negotiation for French, German and Italian-speaking clients of a broad industrial persuasion. Although a mammoth legal offering, it remains a nimble, dynamic practice with rock-solid domestic ties and unmatched loyalty among local industry. An experienced player in IP litigation, Roger Staub has nurtured the line-up’s reputation on the scene, bolstering it substantially since his arrival last year. Equally at home in litigation or overseeing IP-intensive agreements, Italian-speaker Stefano Codoni is one of the Lugano region’s foremost IP experts. Another lawyer plugged securely into the transactional space, Markus Frick is also a renowned arbitrator for pharmaceutical clashes; he wields a firm grasp of licensing issues as well, deployed both in negotiation and to put a swift end to disputes.

Other recommended experts

Untangling complex transactional knots for Nater Dallafior’s loyal following, Mathis Berger showcases his remarkable legal nous in every instruction, winning remarkable outcomes at the negotiating table. His commercial acumen and experience in both contentious and non-contentious settings make him a valuable asset to clients in the life sciences and high-tech arenas. CMS’s IP commander Robert Briner has amassed two decades’ experience in litigation; as a result, he is a decisive force in infringement proceedings who takes the fight straight to the door of those who dare to violate his allies’ IP rights. Years of fighting on behalf of life sciences, cosmetics and food processing giants have instilled in Stefan Kohler an almost unholy ability before the patent court. From his lair at Zurich’s VISCHER, he effortlessly adapts his talents to non-contentious set pieces, too, earning a reputation as a high-stakes deal maker. Laurent Muhlstein is number one on speed dial for the domestic and international clientele of Junod, Muhlstein, Lévy & Puder. A speaker of five languages and a commercial law savant, he shines brightest in litigation, winning victory on his terms. Earning IAM Patent 1000 luminary status in 2018, Patrick Troller of Troller Hitz Troller remains an influential presence on the Swiss IP scene and a legendary prosecutor of patents originating from a multitude of sectors. A proven ability in pharmaceutical litigation and years of experience justify Streichenberg's Christoph Willi’s status as a go-to in a dispute.

Individuals: litigation

Individuals: prosecution

Individuals: transactions

Luminaries