Comment: Following a number of years of internal issues and a change in management taking center stage, the firm is now concentrating again on the strategic development of its practices and an intensive sector focus. Its main drawing card is the market-leading patents practice, which put in an impressive performance with advice on a growing number of pharmaceuticals proceedings (e.g. for Nektar and Heumann) and numerous disputes over mobile communications patents (e.g. for Nokia).
The firm is gearing up for the future with its pan-European setup: it has patent litigation teams in all of the planned Unified Patent Court’s (UPC) important member states, and has set up a patents team in Hamburg. The IP team also works closely with other practices: the antitrust practice is involved in the long-running dispute over standard-essential patents for Huawei. Furthermore, the antitrust and distribution law teams brought their close cooperation into play in the automotive sector, an area important for them both. The distribution law practice was given a boost by Dr. Matthias Spilker’s appointment as partner.
Besides patents, B&B is among those leading the market in public procurement. This is evidenced by high-volume IT projects and a further strategic widening of the client base in the healthcare sector.
The M&A practice – a recent problem area – is now developing well following a strategic shakeup. Thanks to the more consistent sector focus and strong Europe-wide network, the practice now enjoys a steady deal flow. Here too, B&B is strategically building on its firm-wide specialties in energy, telecoms and automotive technologies and was thus hired by a high-profile asset manager for transactions. The momentum moving the practice forward was also evidenced by advice to TomTom on acquiring autonomous driving services specialist Autonomos.
See also: ?Düsseldorf, ?Frankfurt, ?Munich.
Lawyers in Germany: 151
International network: Integrated international firm with 25 offices in Europe and Asia. The strongest national groups are the UK and Germany.
Developments: The headlines about the role of a partner, who had joined as a lateral, in the embezzlement affair surrounding the Wölbern fund clouded the picture of the firm in recent years, but B&B has now learned how to cope with the burden of the ongoing proceedings and is tackling new projects. For instance, it is rebuilding the Hamburg office starting from its strong patents practice by hiring two patent attorneys from Uexküll & Stolberg and relocating patent partner Dr. Anna Wolters-Höhne from Düsseldorf to Hamburg: a strategically clever move as B&B was not present in this important city for patents, one of the three future German UPC locations.
In addition to the rebuilding of the Hamburg office, the corporate practice remains a major challenge. After two difficult years, the strategy change is now making an impact. But the firm will need to raise its visibility further for its next strategic goal: advising the top-flight clients who already bank on B&B regularly for patents in corporate and transactions as well. There also lies unexploited potential in the international setup. The cross-border cooperation evident in the recent PostNL deal could act as a blueprint. This arose thanks to a regulatory partner in the Dutch office.
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