Powell Gilbert LLP

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Gold - Firms: litigation

IP litigation boutique Powell Gilbert is one of the strongest firms of its kind in the country, consistently handling more patent litigation cases in the English courts than other outfits and regularly acting in some of the most high-profile battles in the jurisdiction. The cases it handles are novel, technically complex and high value, but its strength and reliability means clients keep coming back for more. Over the past year, one prominent piece has been its work for Ocado against AutoStore in relation to automated warehouse storage systems – acting on the case are Simon Ayrton, Zoë Butler and Tom Oliver. Ayrton brings a degree in natural sciences to his litigation practice, while Butler is known for her high-profile work on FRAND disputes, and both receive stellar feedback: “Simon and Zöe give thoughtful, timely and insightful advice. They are consummate professionals, are always willing to listen and consider the opinions of others, and are a pleasure to work with.” Oliver joined the partnership in 2020 and benefits from an academic background in chemistry – disputes at the interface of IP and competition law are his forte. Another key client is Edwards Lifesciences, whose fight against Meril Life Sciences has been led by Siddharth Kusumakar and Tim Powell – Kusumakar is an expert in managing multi-jurisdictional patent litigation in the pharmaceutical field and has twice acted successfully before the Supreme Court, while founding partner and solicitor advocate Powell gives his name to the ensemble and has been described as “simply the best”. “The best word to describe him is “exceptional.” He is experienced, smart, and pragmatic. He quickly sees the “big picture” and is a master at developing strategies that achieve the best result that is consistent with the client’s business goals. He and his firm are our “go-to” IP litigators in the UK.” His fellow founding partner is Penny Gilbert, who also sits as one of the United Kingdom’s best-known patent litigators, having acted in some of the most headline-grabbing cases Europe-wide in recent years, especially in the biotechnology field. Acting for Philip Morris International lately in its global dispute against British American Tobacco are star trio Alex Wilson, Peter Damerell and Tim Whitfield. Wilson has a background in biochemistry, is fluent in French and German, and is a regular tutor on the renowned Oxford University Diploma in IP Law and Practice, while Damerell also comes with a scientific background – in physiology – but is best known for his work on Huawei’s FRAND disputes. Whitfield’s technical expertise is in chemistry – he knows the pharmaceutical sphere well, and receives star-studded feedback: “Tim has extraordinary attention to detail. As far as I can tell nothing escapes him and we have often been two steps ahead of our well-represented opponents. Tim has deftly avoided or managed issues very effectively, and on the flip side he has tied opponents in knots and forced missteps, all to our commercial advantage. Finally, Tim is incredibly calm and collected under intense pressures – there is no drama, just a steely resolve.” Also garnering favour are Ari Laakkonen and Bethan Hopewell – computer scientist and electronics PhD Laakkonen has been credited as “a good communicator who is conscious of keeping clients informed”, while life sciences-focused Hopewell has been called “smart, responsive and a pleasure to work with”. “Bethan is truly one of the best litigators I have worked with, not only in the UK but worldwide. She is always a couple of steps ahead of the opposition. We rely heavily on her experience and expertise to navigate successfully through UK patent litigation and pan-Europeanlitigation.”

Firm Profile

Powell Gilbert LLP is a specialist IP law firm dedicated to serving clients across the full spectrum of knowledge-driven industries, from cutting-edge tech and life sciences companies to creative and brand-driven businesses. The firm is one of the most innovative and most highly regarded IP teams in Europe, with unrivalled patent litigation experience and a blue-chip brands practice.

The firm includes some of Europe’s leading patent litigators and the technical expertise at Powell Gilbert is second to none. Almost all lawyers have technical backgrounds, including many with PhDs or master’s degrees in relevant scientific disciplines. The firm advises clients across all technologies and all IP rights, including advising on IP licence disputes and providing freedom-to-operate assessments.

In litigation, the team routinely represents clients before the UK patents courts at all levels, including on appeal before the UK Supreme Court, where it has appeared in a number of precedent-setting cases in recent years.

With a wealth of experience gained from acting in multinational disputes, Powell Gilbert is frequently involved in devising European patent litigation strategies, acting as coordinating counsel and working with local teams to put strategies into effect and to ensure consistency of approach.

Powell Gilbert’s IP litigation team includes 13 partners, 19 associates and a highly experienced litigation support team.

Practice areas

The firm advises across the full spectrum of IP rights, including patents, brands, design rights, copyright, passing off, confidential information and plant variety rights. Its experience in patent litigation ranges across all technical fields, from acting in the earliest biotechnology patent cases to involvement in the smartphone wars and leading cases on FRAND licensing disputes. It has appeared in many of the most technically complex and legally challenging cases in the UK patent courts and has also represented clients in referrals to the European Court of Justice and the European Free Trade Area Court in relation to the requirements for the grant of supplementary protection certificates (SPC). The firm also represents clients in smaller claims before the UK IP Enterprise Court and frequently represents clients in European Patent Office opposition proceedings and in other registry proceedings, including representing clients before the UK Intellectual Property Office.

Although focused on litigation, the firm is also experienced in alternative dispute resolution, including mediation and arbitration, particularly in relation to patent and technology licences.

International experience

A distinguishing feature of Powell Gilbert is the expertise and experience of its lawyers in coordinating complex cases and successfully guiding clients through multinational patent litigation, and devising and coordinating pan-European strategies.

The firm has played a central role in cases before many overseas courts, including in continental Europe, Scandinavia, the United States (district court and International Trade Commission proceedings), Australia, China, Korea and Japan.

With an eye for coordination strategies, Powell Gilbert’s lawyers are familiar with the opportunities, and the potential threats for the unwary, that litigation in the Unified Patents Court (UPC) may offer. Members of the firm were actively involved in commenting on the rules of procedure of the UPC and have contributed to training materials for UPC judges, including participation in mock trials.


English, Finnish, French, German, Cantonese and Mandarin.

Key cases

  • Warner Lambert v Actavis (pregabalin)
  • Regeneron v Kymab (antibodies/transgenic mice)
  • Unwired Planet v Huawei (smartphones/FRAND)
  • Eli Lilly v Human Genome Sciences (neutrokine alpha/SPC)
  • Ocado v AutoStore (robotics)
  • Philip Morris v Nicoventures (heat-not-burn tobacco)
  • lllumina v MGI (gene sequencing technology)
  • Edwards Lifesciences v Meril / Abbott v Edwards (transcatheter heart valves)
  • Advanced Bionics v MED-EL (cochlear implants)
  • Royalty Pharma v Boehringer Ingelheim (licence dispute – German law)
  • Vestel v HEVC Advance (HEVC codec/FRAND)
  • IPCom v Xiaomi (telecoms/FRAND)
  • Biogen v AbbVie (adalimumab)
  • GSK v Fibrogen (anti-anaemia drugs)
  • Merck v GSK (pneumococcal vaccines)
  • Chugai v UCB (patent licence dispute, antibody technology)
  • Illumina v Ariosa (non-invasive pre-natal testing)
  • Boston v Edwards (heart valves)
  • CommScope v SOLiD (digital distributed antenna systems)
  • Promptu v Sky and Comcast (voice recognition systems)
  • Coloplast v Salts (ostomy devices)
  • Garmin v Philips; PulseOn Oy v Garmin (wearable tech)
  • Rovi v Virgin Media (cable television)
  • Apple v NokiaHTC v Apple (smartphones)
  • LG v Sony (Blu-ray disc technology)
  • Nuance v Vlingo (voice recognition)
  • Mölnlycke v BSN medical (wound dressings)
  • Philips v Alba (MPEG-2 digital compression)
  • Nichia v SSCL (LEDs)
  • Monsanto v Cargill (genetically modified soy beans)
  • Aerotel v Wavecrest (computer programs)
  • Dr Reddy’s v Eli Lilly (olanzapine)
  • Yeda v ImClone (Erbitux – entitlement; SPCs)
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