United Kingdom: Scotland

Like their counterparts in England, Scotland’s patent professionals are working overtime to adapt to the news that the United Kingdom will not be involved in the Unified Patent Court. Despite the uncertainties, local business is healthy – not least thanks to Glasgow’s status as a high-technology innovation hub, as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning become more embedded in emerging technologies. Start-ups are therefore a key client source for many of Scotland’s patent firms and this trend should doubtless continue going forward. In Aberdeen, patent practitioners have a vital role to play in protecting and defending the intangible assets of oil and gas corporations, which remain active despite the rise in renewable energy technologies.

Firms: litigation

Firms: prosecution

  • HGF Ltd 
  • Marks & Clerk
  • Murgitroyd
  • Creation IP Ltd
  • Hindles
  • Lawrie IP
  • Lincoln IP Limited
  • Scintilla IP

Firms: transactions

  • Brodies LLP
  • Burness Paull LLP
  • CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP
  • Dentons

Brodies LLP

Although it shouldered some significant recent personnel losses on the litigation side, Brodies is still coming on strong on the transactional front, with Grant Campbell and Martin Sloan providing percipient advice to players in the finance and technology sectors. Campbell draws on 20 years of experience to provide commercially focused counsel and draft watertight contracts; while Sloan’s intuitive grasp of IT and data protection law feeds seamlessly into his IP practice.

Burness Paull LLP

The “rightly well-regarded” Colin Hulme of Burness Paull is a colossus of the Scottish patent litigation landscape. “From a technical perspective, his knowledge and experience are second to none. What sets Colin apart, however, is his empathy and ability to put himself in clients’ shoes and provide advice in their best interests. Colin gives advice that is bang on the money time and time again.” “He’s very easy to work with, and very practical and down to earth. Hugely experienced, talented and commercially aware, he brings valuable strategic oversight to a case, which delivers results” for the likes of household names such as AstraZeneca. Under Hulme’s rule, the contentious arm of Burness Paull has acted in over half of all actions raised in the Scottish IP Court in recent years and is hailed as “the best contentious practice in Scotland”. The transactional wing is similarly renowned, advising on patent licences, collaborations and R&D agreements in sectors ranging from medical devices to maritime, financial technology and oil and gas. Technological wizard David Goodbrand has advised on IP commercialisation, strategy and protection for two decades; his insight in the fintech sector in particular is hard to beat.

CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP

The Scottish IP practice of global outfit CMS makes its debut in the IAM Patent 1000 this year, thanks to sterling performances on patent litigation and transactions for multinationals and academic institutions in the biotechnology and high technology sectors. With more than 20 lawyers on deck, including three partners, it is among the largest divisions in the country and shows strong thought leadership, with a particular focus on the burgeoning areas of AI and digital health. In the spotlight on the contentious side is the energetic Neeraj Thomas, whose arrival last year from Burness Paull gave the practice a significant boost. He is one of a select group of litigators accredited as an IP specialist by the Law Society of Scotland and over the last decade has gone out to bat for a slew of large oil and gas and pharmaceutical companies. The engine on the transactional side is Carina Healy, who sticks the landing on patent licensing, development and commercialisation briefs, especially those relating to pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. Both Scottish and English qualified, she makes regular speaking appearances at IP conferences.

Creation IP Ltd

Captained by director and founder Bryn Williams, prosecution boutique Creation IP makes its first appearance in the IAM Patent 1000 this year. The firm is a bastion of strength in the engineering field and files cast-iron applications on behalf of everything from start-ups to multinationals. “For its size and scale, Creation IP is punching way above its weight. The whole team’s application and endeavour in supporting clients’ intellectual property and providing sound technical and commercial advice are second to none.” Williams himself is a European patent attorney and chartered mechanical engineer whose “commercial and strategic” approach helps fledgling companies to exploit their intellectual property in a way that best serves their overall business objectives.

Dentons

With offices in all key European jurisdictions and in myriad locations throughout the United States, South America and China, Dentons has a foothold virtually everywhere on the planet. Scotland is no exception, and the local contingent is “highly regarded” for its top-drawer transactional practice. This stellar reputation is due largely to the efforts of Ross Nicol and Alison Bryce, who have encyclopaedic knowledge of commercial contracts and arrangements. Nicol provides judicious counsel on the IP aspects of corporate transactions, e-commerce, data protection and freedom of information compliance; while the expertise Bryce has gained in her 21 years with the firm is reflected in her IP specialist accreditation from the Law Society of Scotland.

HGF Ltd 

According to competitors, the Scottish offices of HGF have been “making big inroads” in recent months, in line with the firm’s ambitious pan-European growth strategy. With bases in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, it has enviable geographical reach and the technical chops to provide precision prosecution services across virtually every industry sector. Specialisms include chemistry, electronics, life sciences and – importantly – energy, with the Aberdeen office proving a particular boon for oil and gas companies. In Glasgow, ringmaster Gary Wilson leads a team of “stellar performers” and has been the driving force behind HGF’s success in Scotland since joining in 2007. The skilled advocate makes regular appearances in oppositions and appeals at the European Patent Office (EPO); he is also adept at managing international patent portfolios and providing commercially on-point advice to clients of all stripes. “I give Gary the hardest work because I know he won’t mess it up,” enthuses one satisfied customer. “I use him for complex things that require strategic thinking. Anything I seriously care about goes to Gary.” Alongside Wilson, Andrew McGettrick impresses with his expert drafting and prosecution of patent applications in the fields of electronics, software, medical devices and mechanical engineering. He enjoys the patronage of big-name clients from locations as far-flung as the United States, China, Japan and Korea. In Edinburgh, Jamie Thomson manages global patent portfolios in the fields of medical devices, pharmaceuticals and performance chemicals. He is also no stranger to oppositions and appeals at the EPO, having gained abundant experience in the area over two years stationed in Munich.

Hindles

The “reliable” Hindles is a byword for quality prosecution. Start-ups, university spin-outs and large corporations are all well served by its carefully assembled ensemble of patent attorneys, whose guidance is always clear and commercially meaningful. At the fore is eponymous director Alistair Hindle: “very responsive and friendly, with an ability to turn things around really quickly”, he understands the needs and goals of SMEs, handling the development and management of their patent portfolios across the innovation lifecycle. Fellow director Robert Gregory is a Cambridge-educated chemist who prosecutes patent applications across the spectrum of scientific disciplines and frequently appears before the EPO in administrative proceedings.

Lawrie IP

Prosecution shop Lawrie IP strikes the perfect balance between the well-tested management processes of larger firms and more creative, forward-thinking practices. It has a flair for working with start-ups to plot out their patent strategies, helping them to predict potential advances and guard against possible obstacles. “They have been very considerate of our needs as a start-up, helping us develop our IP strategy, budget for ongoing IP costs and understand other aspects of our invention that may lead to future patents,” reports one client. “We were under a tight deadline to file our patent and they were able to go beyond normal service to help us meet this deadline.” Anders Jensen “knows his stuff and always gives his honest opinion”. His measured, meticulous approach is consistent with that of the firm as a whole: “Anders takes the time to really understand a company’s needs and roadmap by getting to know them on a professional and personal level. He gives sound advice in a clear manner and with a sense of genuine interest; and every option is explored, which is essential in developing a robust IP strategy.” Craig Hutchinson’s PhD in electronic and electrical engineering makes him ideally positioned to advise in areas such as sonar imaging, retinal imaging and robotics. He dedicates significant time to due diligence reviews and freedom-to-operate opinions, as well as administrative proceedings at the EPO. “He is a true IP strategist – never pushy and always pragmatic.” Overseeing all of this is founder Donald Lawrie, who offers expert opinions in virtually all fields, from due diligence reviews to freedom-to-operate analyses; he also has an affinity for the IP clauses of agreements. “Working with the team is enjoyable and reassuring of the fact that we are in good hands. They are very in-depth and leave nothing to chance.”

Lincoln IP Limited

Based in the heart of Aberdeen, and with its finger firmly on the pulse of the city’s thriving oil and gas scene, Lincoln IP files and prosecutes patents with finesse for innovators across the energy industry. The firm’s director and namesake, Matthew Lincoln, is a physicist and mathematician who shines on strategic portfolio management, IP due diligence and contentious support. He boasts behind-the-scenes insight from a stint as an examiner at the UK Intellectual Property Office. Fellow director David Fulton is another physicist and heads up the Glasgow office, where he advises on a range of high-technology fields, including the niche area of laser technology.

Marks & Clerk

Marks & Clerk is a potent presence on the UK patent scene, with bases in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen complementing its five offices in England. It enjoys a reputation across the island as an “excellent firm”; some would even single it out as “the best in Scotland”. It has continued to expand its renowned training programme this year, to ensure that it is equipped with the most talented and able attorneys in the years to come. The stars of today include biotechnologists and antibody experts Richard Gibbs and Paul Chapman. Gibbs’s high-level expertise has won him the patronage of all of Scotland’s major universities. Chapman is often at the EPO engaging in opposition and appeal proceedings; he also files and prosecutes supplementary protection certificate applications throughout Europe with panache. The pair work out of the Glasgow office alongside electronics specialist Graham McGlashan, who teases out the intricacies of inventions in fields as diverse as telecommunications, automotive, defence and software for clients ranging from multinationals to SMEs and leading universities and their spin-outs. Up north in Aberdeen, Andrew Docherty deploys his vast know-how of oil and gas technologies assisting on everything from protection to enforcement and strategic management of IP risks; medical devices, aerospace and renewables are further metiers of this versatile practitioner. He was the architect behind the establishment and development of the Aberdeen office, which has since become a crucial engine for the firm.

Murgitroyd

The Scottish IP community tips Murgitroyd for the “high standards” to which it is committed. Its Glasgow office was the first to open its doors and serves as the international headquarters, overseeing an office network spanning Europe and Central America, which grants it valuable local knowledge which it couples with an international outlook. The firm now has offices stationed across Europe and Central America, and Glasgow sits at the heart of their coordination. Rainmaker Graham Murnane has an insider’s perspective on oppositions and appeal proceedings at the EPO, having previously served as a substantive examiner there. Armed with academic credentials from Cambridge University, he has also amassed extensive industry experience as an engineer, working on road and rail bridges, motorway construction, North Sea oil platforms and highway safety fences. Clients include multinational engineering corporations, but also manufacturing companies and start-ups – all of which appreciate his crystal-clear, commercially astute advice.

Pinsent Masons 

A mainstay of the England chapter in the IAM Patent 1000, the forward-thinking, well-connected Pinsent Masons makes its debut in the Scotland rankings this year. From twin offices in Edinburgh and Glasgow, it engages in cross-border patent revocation, invalidity and infringement proceedings, while also hammering out favourable results in licensing disputes. Two practitioners firmly on the radars of competitors are Jim Cormack and David Woods, both of whom “demonstrate strong litigation skills and patent knowledge”. Edinburgh-based Cormack has been appointed as queen’s counsel and is “very good on his feet as a solicitor-advocate”; while Woods acts in all manner of contentious proceedings across the United Kingdom and beyond, and counts Teva Pharmaceutical Industries among his recent clients.

Scintilla IP

Since its inception seven years ago, Scintilla IP has captured a sizeable slice of the Scottish patent market; high-profile client wins and new trainee patent attorney hires this year have further boosted the practice and shored up its position for the future. While its workload is varied, its main fortes are electronics and software: hot areas such as semiconductors, fintech, cybersecurity, machine learning and AI all fall within its purview. The brains behind the operation is Peter McBride, a physicist whose “expert guidance” informs everything the firm does. McBride’s “evident expertise and genuine, understanding and engaging demeanour” drew one client to instruct the firm in recent years and it is now reaping handsome benefits from its decision: “They helped us understand what could and couldn’t be protected and were very patient. They are very generous with their time, are exceptionally knowledgeable and have a skill for explaining complicated things very clearly. They picked it up easier than a lot of engineers and were asking me questions about features I hadn’t thought of. Throughout the process, they constantly thought ahead as to what competitors might do. That was incredibly helpful.”

Other recommended experts

“Very knowledgeable” in intellectual property, Alistair Lang provides commercially focused advice from his base at Thornton’s. He specialises in IP licensing and handles complex multi-jurisdictional briefs for numerous industry heavyweights.

Individuals: litigation

Individuals: prosecution

  • Paul Chapman - Marks & Clerk
  • Andrew Docherty - Marks & Clerk
  • Richard Gibbs - Marks & Clerk
  • Robert Gregory - Hindles
  • Alistair Hindle - Hindles
  • Craig Hutchison - Lawrie IP
  • Anders Jensen - Lawrie IP
  • Gary Wilson - HGF Ltd
  • David Fulton - Lincoln IP Limited
  • Matthew Lincoln - Lincoln IP Limited
  • Peter McBride - Scintilla IP
  • Andrew McGettrick - HGF Ltd
  • Graham McGlashan - Marks & Clerk
  • Graham Murnane - Murgitroyd
  • Jamie Thomson - HGF Ltd
  • Bryn Williams - Creation IP Ltd

Individuals: transactions

  • Alison Bryce - Dentons
  • Grant S Campbell - Brodies LLP
  • David Goodbrand - Burness Paull LLP
  • Carina Healy - CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP
  • Alistair Lang - Thorntons Law
  • Donald Lawrie - Lawrie IP
  • Ross Nicol - Dentons
  • Martin Sloan - Brodies LLP