United Kingdom: Scotland

Scotland’s IP scene continues to be dominated by oil and gas activity. The global downturn in the price of oil unquestionably rocked the sector in 2015 and 2016, but there have been signs of returning confidence; in 2017 the national production of oil and gas rose by 2.9% and the sales value increased by over 15%. This is expected to lead to an upturn in patent filing and enforcement among rights holders operating in the North Sea. Another bountiful source of work for patent practitioners is the education sector; more and more universities are realising the potential of spin-out companies and are pushing the commercialisation of technological breakthroughs made in the course of research. As in the rest of the United Kingdom, law firms in Scotland are anxious to know what form Brexit will take and what it will mean for rights holders with European patents.

Firms: litigation and transactions

  • Brodies LLP
  • Burness Paull LLP
  • Dentons

Firms: prosecution

  • HGF Ltd
  • Marks & Clerk
  • Murgitroyd & Company
  • Hindles
  • lincoln ip limited

Brodies LLP

Headquartered in Edinburgh, Brodies is a Scottish thoroughbred with the largest dedicated IP dispute resolution team in the country and a cracking transactional practice to boot. Robert Buchan and Gill Grassie are two litigators par excellence. “They are the go-to individuals for big patent cases, being commercial in their approach and having vast experience. Their advice is meticulously thorough but also pragmatic.” Both have proven themselves in sectors as disparate as luxury goods, energy and pharmaceuticals. Shona Tennant and Grant Campbell are commercialisation gurus: Campbell has been conducting due diligence on patents as part of commercial transactions and IP funding or securitisation for more than 20 years; Tennant, meanwhile, has a lock on the education sector and loves nothing more than working with university technology transfer and research offices.

Burness Paull LLP

Business law firm Burness Paull is an ever-reliable choice for high-value IP transactions and litigations. Putting their business hats on, its IP wizards exploit patent portfolios and pursue infringement battles with a laser focus on what clients want long term. Hallmarks of the service are diligence, dedication and dynamism, all exemplified by lynchpin Colin Hulme. Known for his forward thinking, he raises potential issues the second they surface rather than waiting for them to be brought to his attention; by the time something has reached the courtroom, he will have gone over every fact with a fine-tooth comb and honed his argument to a razor’s edge.

Dentons

Maclay Murray & Spens’ 2017 combination with Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, has significantly enhanced its international capabilities and pricked up the ears of many multinationals; its members can now routinely pick up the phone and exchange insights with colleagues across Europe, Africa, Asia Pacific and the Americas to ensure that clients get patent protection that makes global sense. Ross Nicol and Alison Bryce have outstanding pedigree as deal makers. They search far and wide for novel monetisation opportunities and have the negotiation skills to get signatures on the bottom line in no time at all. Nicol focuses on the financial services sector; Bryce is a favourite among oil and gas entities. Susan Snedden steps in when the heat rises. She is a battle-hardened litigator who manages to find the back of the net no matter how tight the angle.

HGF Ltd

In the decade since HGF burst onto Scotland’s IP scene, it has become a prime address for patent prosecution. With a plenitude of engineering, electronics, chemistry and life sciences attorneys spread across three offices – Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow – it has the technical expertise to cater for everyone. Managing partner Gary Wilson leads by example. “He’s extremely prompt and responsive and understands how things are organised in business, which helps to ensure that communication among stakeholders is smooth. Really conscientious, he makes sure to get a deep understanding of his clients’ technological areas, too, and communicates at a personal level with simple, straightforward language.” A recent highlight is providing global patentability analysis and prosecution support to Scottish Enterprise, a body set up by the government to stimulate economic growth. 2017 recruit Andrew McGettrick has settled effortlessly into the firm’s customer-oriented culture. His exquisite drafting skills make all the difference to rights holders struggling to find elbow room in extremely competitive markets.

Hindles

“A leading IP prosecution boutique with very impressive scientifically minded individuals”, is how one impressed peer characterises Hindles. The team’s rock-solid patent attorneys have been making mouths water with the sophistication and seamlessness of their counsel; complex legal concepts are clearly communicated in easy-to-scan reports and queries are responded to at lightning speed. Founding partner Alistair Hindle rigorously ensures that every client receives this level of service. He has an affinity for working with start-ups that share his enterprising spirit and want to become world beaters. His teammate Robert Gregory provides practical advice tailored to clients’ needs and objectives. He is extremely well versed in European patent law and has “the necessary technical knowledge to get the rubber stamp on complex organic and inorganic chemistry applications”.

lincoln ip limited

The oil and gas sector remains a happy hunting ground for Aberdeen-based lincoln ip. Robust prosecution and portfolio management strategies are mapped out for start-ups, public bodies and international companies, with an understanding that patents can reap benefits in different ways – they can raise the barrier to entry into the market for competitors, generate revenue through licensing models and also secure the confidence of investors. A former examiner at the UK Intellectual Property Office, Matthew Lincoln puts clients on a sure footing from the get-go. His understands what makes an airtight application as well as anyone.

Marks & Clerk

Marks & Clerk is a stellar prosecution shop with three Scottish offices, five in England and a further eight overseas. Its internationally minded support checks all the right boxes: technical knowledge, commercial savvy, responsiveness and market awareness. In Aberdeen, Andrew Docherty specialises in and oil and gas work – for example, assisting the entrepreneur Peter Moyes, Xtreme Well Technology and Rotojar in developing bespoke IP strategies that could withstand a battering from even gale-force winds. “He’s available on his direct line at any time of the day and more than happy to come to his clients’ offices for in-person discussions. He never fails to deliver high-quality, uniquely tailored advice.” Richard Gibbs, David Moreland and Graham McGlashan stand out in the Glasgow office. Gibbs has complete command of the biotech sector, while Moreland and McGlashan are electronics experts. “McGlashan is an exceptional practitioner who would make a great match for a rapidly growing technology business that is very creative in developing new intellectual property but doesn’t have the time or the expertise to craft well-written, thought-out patent applications. He deals with everything effectively and efficiently.” Edinburgh is home to seasoned drafters Campbell Newell and Paul Chapman. A patent and trademark connoisseur, Newell is perfect for those with diverse portfolios; pharmaceuticals whizz Chapman has significant experience filing supplementary protection certificate applications throughout Europe.

Murgitroyd & Company

With 13 European offices, Murgitroyd has what it takes to navigate the international patent seas. The set excels at filing and portfolio management, as well as having an impressive track record in opposition and appeal proceedings. The Glasgow-based Graham Murnane always goes the extra mile to ensure the satisfaction of his clients. Having spent several years examining engineering applications at the European Patent Office, it is little surprise that so many multinational engineering companies keep him on speed dial.

Other recommended experts

Simon Black at Black and Associates makes an immediate impression on rights holders with his precise drafting and savvy strategic advice. Shepherd and Wedderburn’s Joanna Boag-Thomson has a ton of experience advising on the IP aspects of high-value M&A transactions. Seona Burnett of Vialex is renowned for her splendid portfolio management. She has a sharp business mind and really hustles for her clients. “Andy Harris of MBM Commercial knows all the corporate issues that can arise in relation to intellectual property and provides well-grounded, extremely practical advice.” Thorntons Law’s Alistair Lang provides “excellent, commercially sharp” support to university spin-outs and small to medium-sized enterprises.

Individuals: litigation

  • Robert Buchan - Brodies LLP
  • Gill Grassie - Brodies LLP
  • Colin Hulme - Burness Paull LLP
  • Susan Snedden - Dentons

Individuals: prosecution

  • Simon Black - Black and Associates
  • Seona Burnett - Vialex Ltd
  • Paul Chapman - Marks & Clerk
  • Andrew Docherty - Marks & Clerk
  • Richard Gibbs - Marks & Clerk
  • Robert Gregory - Hindles
  • Alistair Hindle - Hindles
  • Matthew Lincoln - lincoln ip limited
  • Andrew McGettrick - HGF Ltd
  • Graham McGlashan - Marks & Clerk
  • David Moreland - Marks & Clerk
  • Graham Murnane - Murgitroyd & Company
  • Campbell Newell - Marks & Clerk
  • Gary Wilson - HGF Ltd

Individuals: transactions

  • Joanna Boag-Thomson - Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP
  • Alison Bryce - Dentons
  • Grant Campbell - Brodies LLP
  • Andy Harris - MBM Commercial
  • Alistair Lang - Thorntons Law
  • Ross Nicol - Dentons
  • Shona Tennant - Brodies LLP