Technology innovation is driving the international growth of the Cambridge cluster and the East of England economy. BioMedTech, ICT including wireless and CleanTech are the main growth segments.No technology company with global growth ambitions can hope to progress without sound legal advice and in this regard the East of England is truly blessed.
In Europe’s leading biotech sector, Mills & Reeve and Taylor Wessing are rated joint number ones by The Legal 500 guide. Eversheds and Taylor Vinters share number two tier in a quality quartet. The guide says: “At Mills & Reeve, Isabel Napper’s dedicated life sciences team has kept busy with patent licensing and commercial agreements between biotech companies. It advised Bio Products Laboratory on the coordination of clinical trials, and new client Pharming NV on the commercial development of treatments for genetic disorders.
“Taylor Wessing is ‘very knowledgeable in the biotech and pharma sector, and highly experienced in complex contracts for licensing new products’.
Malcolm Bates and Tim Worden advise clients such as Abbott Laboratories and Oxford BioMedica, and represented Cambridge-based F-Star on a €492m commercialisation agreement with Merck Serono.
“Eversheds benefits from IP partner Simon Crossley’s in-house experience in pharmaceutical companies and biochemistry expertise. He advises clients such as Roche on regulatory issues surrounding new product developments.
“Taylor Vinters advises Pulmagen on licences and collaborative ventures. Tom McGuire and Patrick Farrant provide ‘outstanding support and advice’.” Eversheds, Mills & Reeve and Taylor Wessing share top spot for IT and telecoms advice.
Hewitsons and Taylor Vinters are ranked equal second with Birketts and Greenwoods in a three-firm third tier.
The Legal 500 reports: “Eversheds’ ‘invaluable industry knowledge’ draws heavyweight clients such as Canon and Samsung Electronics. The ‘professional, flexible’ Simon Crossley and Adrian Toutoungi are recommended, along with Liz Fitzsimons, who has notable expertise in data privacy. The firm is advising British Gas on its Smart Meter programme.
“Mills & Reeve is ‘responsive, pragmatic and competitive’. Kevin Calder is ‘calm and can explain complex legal issues in a simplified manner’, and associate Peter Wainman is ‘strong on data protection issues’. Clients include Bupa and NHS Direct.
“Taylor Wessing’s Simon Walker and David Mardle lead a corporate technology team that advises Cambridge Broadband Networks and Plastic Logic. Software licensing, service agreements and supply and distribution arrangements are among its areas of expertise.
“Hewitsons is ‘exemplary in all areas and provides surprisingly detailed knowledge and reasoned advice’. Five partners handle IT work, with the ‘extremely diligent, cool-headed and deep-thinking’ Bill Thatcher singled out. The firm handles non-contentious matters for Microsoft Corporation.
“Taylor Vinters ‘operates with flexibility and a refreshing pragmatism’ and benefits from a Singapore office that enables it to tap into the South East Asian technology market. Matt Meyer’s clients include US companies and smartphone technology developer Nujira.
“Birketts has intensified its focus on the IT sector, bringing in work such as drafting development agreements and software licences for online distribution company Perivan. Mark Gipson and Adrian Possener are ‘very good all round’.
“Greenwoods’ team ‘understands quickly and offers clear advice’. The ‘professional and helpful’ David Woods and Emma Murphy are ‘both quick and clear in their communication’. Woods advised Bauer Media on the IT aspects of an acquisition of an online business.”
Intellectual property is the key to technology companies’ fundraising efforts and international growth prospects and Cambridge-East Anglia law firms have some brilliant lawyers who are world-class.
The Legal 500 rates four firms as its top IP practitioners – Eversheds, Mills & Reeve, Taylor Vinters and Taylor Wessing.
Birketts and Hewitsons make a five-firm second tier and Greenwoods slots into a third tier ranking.
The guide says: “Eversheds has one of the few credible patent litigation practices in East Anglia and acts for clients such as DuPont and Roche. Simon Crossley represents a US multinational, and Adrian Toutoungi advised SPX on the IP implications of its acquisition of Clyde Union.
“Mills & Reeve’s ‘quick and commercially focused’ team advised Stravencon on acquiring licences from generic pharmaceutical companies. ‘Excellent steering hand’ Isabel Napper, Alasdair Poore and Nicola Kenward are ‘helpful and informed’.
“‘Still the firm to beat’, Taylor Vinters’ clients include biotech company Pulmagen and new client Nujira. Patrick Farrant is ‘considered and pragmatic’, and Tom McGuire also stands out.
“Birketts fields ‘a good, youthful team providing excellent value’ for clients such as Telegraph Media Group and Patisserie Valerie. Matthew Atkins advised Caterham Cars on trade mark management and a rights dispute in Germany.
“Hewitsons’ ‘highly skilled’ team has a multinational client base. Mark Elmslie handles IP infringement cases for Nike and Converse; Bill Thatcher advises Microsoft Corporation; and Dominic Hopkins handles disputes for a Japanese IT company.
“Greenwoods Solicitors is noted for its ‘good value and excellent advice’. David Woods, Julian Kirkpatrick and Emma Murphy provide ‘key knowledge and guidance’ on the sale and licensing of IP rights, especially in the media sector.”
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Isabel Napper, Mills & Reeve