The world’s highest-grossing law firm Kirkland & Ellis promoted 141 attorneys across three continents to partner earlier this month. Among these promotions, Steven Baldwin, Jin Ooi, and Joanna Thomson were promoted to partnership in London, taking the IP partner count to eight. Since the recent developments at Kirkland & Ellis, we take a look at what the practice has been up to.
The Intellectual Property law practice at Kirkland & Ellis has been one of the main pillars of the firm and the London IP practice holds up this huge platform. IP litigator Nicola Dagg joined Kirkland at the end of last year. Previously, Nicola was the global head of IP at Allen & Overy in London. She brings over 20 years of experience to bear in complex IP litigation and breach of confidence disputes. Nicola’s appointment has been a pivotal moment for Kirkland as a US law firm to disrupt the patent litigation market currently dominated by mid-size and boutique law firms alongside practices within a selection of the larger magic circle firms.
Recently promoted partners Steven Baldwin & Jin Ooi are part of the IP litigation team. Joanna Thomson is another partner who was promoted in the technology & IP transactions practice. Steven holds significant experience representing clients in patent, life sciences regulatory, copyright, trademark and trade secrets matters. His practice focuses primarily on complex cross-border life sciences and global SEP/FRAND telecommunications patent disputes as well as life sciences regulatory advice (he is particularly renowned as an expert in SPC law). Jin is experienced in patent and trade secrets litigation and arbitration in the consumer products, pharmaceutical, and life sciences sectors, with particular expertise in the law of plausibility, insufficiency and infringement of medical use claims. Joanna Thomson focuses on the intellectual property, technology and data protection aspects of high-value mergers and acquisitions, private equity investments, corporate reorganizations, securitizations, and related transactions.
The patent litigation practice in the London office is focused mainly on life sciences and technology. Driving synergy between offices, Kirkland’s London office has also been supporting the US-based IP team on matters pending in the UK offering a one-stop-shop transatlantic experience for the firm’s global clients.
Nicola Dagg, said “We are working on the most complex, cutting-edge and high-profile patent litigation matters in the London market. We have been trusted with cases of huge strategic business importance to our clients, with many of our current cases giving rise to novel legal issues. Our patent litigation practice will continue to grow in London to further strengthen Kirkland’s market-leading global IP practice”.
Recent work out of the London office has seen Kirkland & Ellis representing clients, such as Regeneron, Xiaomi, TCL, Linpac Packaging and Meril Life Sciences among many others.
The firm has been representing Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, a leading US-based pharmaceutical and biotech company in a highly valued patent litigation against UK-based Kymab Ltd. relating to Regeneron’s proprietary transgenic mouse platform for therapeutic antibody development, VelocImmune. Regeneron won in the English Court of Appeal in March 2018, led by partners who are currently in Kirkland’s IP team. Kymab has filed an appeal against the Court of Appeal decision to the UK Supreme Court. Kirkland is now advising Regeneron on this market-leading case in the UK Supreme Court. The case will be heard in the Supreme Court in February 2020 and in particular, will deal with important questions on the law of patent sufficiency.
Standard-essential patent (SEP) and Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) have become hot topics recently in the tech industry. The courts have been actively deciding on claims arising out of tech/electronic patent litigation driven by FRAND. Kirkland & Ellis’s London IP team is already at the very forefront of the developing of this line of case law.
Kirkland & Ellis is defending Xiaomi, a Chinese electronics company in a SEP and FRAND licensing dispute brought by Sisvel International SA and Mitsubishi Electric Corporation in the English High Court. Sisvel and Mitsubishi, as a patent pool administrator and single pool member respectively, are asking the English Court to set a global FRAND royalty rate for a licence that would cover all of the patents from all members of the relevant Sisvel pool. As Steven Baldwin points out “this case is the first of its kind worldwide”. In parallel, the defendant Xiaomi is challenging the jurisdiction of the UK courts to decide these global FRAND licences, an issue which was the subject of a 4-day hearing in the UK Supreme Court only last week (21-24 October 2019).
The London office is working on other significant global disputes relating to biologic medical products, next-generation consumer products, wireless communications technology, and automated robotic storage technology among other sectors.
Kirkland’s IP team in London now comprises of 8 partners and 12 associates. It is also noteworthy that 5 out of 8 IP partners are females and that the team consists of partners and associates from many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, demonstrating the diversity of Kirkland’s team.