Powell Gilbert LLP

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Gold - Firms: litigation

One of the United Kingdom’s premier IP litigation destinations, the outfit founded by superstar disputers Tim Powell and Penny Gilbert continues to be recognised as one of the leaders within the space. As one patron puts it: “Tim Powell and his firm are a go-to for patent litigation, not only for the UK, but also for coordination across continental Europe. Tim brings decades of experience and is an unfailing guide through complex litigation. Tim is an exceptional litigator. He is instrumental in developing and executing UK and EU strategies, while keeping in mind clients’ ultimate business goals.” With a team that ranges across industries and technical areas, the ensemble is well situated to handle nearly any complex patent dispute. Patrons single out for praise Simon Ayrton, Bethan Hopewell, Ari Laakkonen and Tim Whitfield. “Simon is simply phenomenal – soft-spoken, undramatic, extremely calm under pressure, super-intelligent, and has the most impressive strategic brain for litigation. He is also a pleasure to work with. His colleagues at Powell Gilbert are cast in his image – low ego, interesting, smart and with strategic brains for patent and IP litigation. They do not pretend to practise other fields of law but are true experts in their field.” “Bethan is one of the sharpest and hardest-working lawyers in the UK. She is a go-to litigator in the UK and can coordinate patent litigation across Europe. Bethan and her firm can handle the biggest, most complex patent litigations. Bethan excels at developing and executing winning strategies that are also consistent with our business goals. She is smart, responsive and pragmatic.” “Ari and Tim are smart, thoughtful IP litigators. They are experts in the area of intellectual property and both have strong legal skills. The whole group offers very reasonable billing rates relative to peers. Ari and Tim are both good communicators and solve problems, rather than simply litigate them. They are highly recommended to anyone in the market for IP litigators.” Other key names to know are Zoë Butler, Joel Coles, Peter Damerell, Siddharth Kusumakar, Tom Oliver, Tess Waldron and Alex Wilson. Deeply experienced in complex patent disputes with an international element, Butler has fought battles for names in telecoms, electronics, pharma and biotech. Incisive and insightful, she has accrued substantial experience advising on international technology standards, including patent pools, licences and FRAND. “Joel’s dedication, creativity and sound technical understanding impress. He is an extremely intelligent lawyer, able to assimilate information quickly and apply knowledge to cases other lawyers would not even consider. This quality – his creative flair – really makes him stand out from the crowd. He’s also much more collaborative and inclusive than other lawyers, and ensures that everyone can contribute in a meaningful way to the issues at hand. He is thoroughly recommended.” Damerell has been called upon by clients in a huge range of industries – two special areas of expertise are freedom-to-operate advice for pharmaceutical companies and issues in the FRAND space. Mobilising his advanced degree in immunology, Kusumakar leads multi-jurisdictional patent litigation in the medtech, biotech and pharmaceutical sectors, including in two landmark UK Supreme Court decisions. With an academic background in biochemistry, Oliver is particularly well suited to complex life sciences disputes, but his experience has been wide ranging, taking in wind turbine technologies as well as the determination of FRAND rates for SEPs in a number of sectors. Waldron spent three years working as a doctor in a hospital before embarking on a career in the patent profession. Her background gives her keen insight into issues in the medical industry and – equally importantly – the ability to maintain calm under the pressure of high-stakes litigation. For nearly 30 years Wilson has advised companies in a range of industries on the enforcement and exploitation of their intellectual property. He has a background in biochem, but has represented companies in everything from semiconductors to oil, gas and graphics processing.

Firm Profile

Powell Gilbert LLP is one of the most innovative and 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, with 13 partners, 21 associates and a highly experienced litigation support team. 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 IP rights, including advising on IP licence disputes and providing FTO assessments.

In UK litigation, the team routinely represents clients before the patent 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 patent disputes, addressing issues of validity and infringement, Powell Gilbert is frequently involved in devising European patent litigation strategies, acting as co-ordinating counsel and working alongside local teams to put those strategies into effect and ensure consistency of approach. The Unified Patents Court (UPC) offers an additional forum for patent enforcement, and Powell Gilbert is assisting clients in the preparation of offensive and defensive strategies. This includes the preparation of pleadings and evidence, as well as assembling the most effective teams of local counsel for the technologies in issue and the UPC division of choice.

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 on supplementary protection certificates (SPC). The firm also represents clients in smaller claims before the UK IP Enterprise Court and represents clients in EPO opposition proceedings and other registry proceedings, including the UK Intellectual Property Office.

Although focused on litigation, the firm is experienced in alternative dispute resolution, including mediation and arbitration.

International experience

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

Powell Gilbert’s lawyers are familiar with the opportunities, and the potential threats for the unwary, that litigation in the UPC offers. 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 (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)
  • 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 soybeans)
  • Aerotel v Wavecrest (computer programs)
  • Dr Reddy’s v Eli Lilly (olanzapine)
  • Yeda v ImClone (Erbitux – entitlement; SPCs)
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