Internationally, Bird & Bird is renowned for its IP expertise and in Germany it's no different. Covering the full range of IP advice, it is well regarded in each niche. It has a practice of 62 lawyers and 11 attorneys working across offices in Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich, in addition to its international network that spans 23 offices and 16 countries.
Bird & Bird has a strong technology client base which includes Nokia, Apple, LG and Microsoft, a recent addition to the firm's roster. Other new clients include Broadcom and Nestlé on the patent side, and 3M, Adidas and Burger King for trade marks.
The German arm of Bird & Bird is best known for its contentious work. Several Düsseldorf partners, in particular, are highly regarded for their experience in patent disputes. Joint head of the firm's global IP group Christian Harmsen is a familiar name for peers, but Oliver Jüngst, who co-heads the international electronics group, is the firm's most prominent and admired litigator.
Nokia was among Jungst and Harmesen's more active clients in 2012. Along with Matthias Meyer and Boris Kreye, the pair have been representing the telecoms company in disputes with IPCom, RIM, HTC and View Sonic.
Design disputes are growing increasingly common when it comes to the infringement of IP relating to touch-screen devices. One example of this saw Richard Dissmann representing Apple in its infringement suit against Jay-Tech, which infringed its design for the iPad. Apple won the case and the judgment was used as a reference in the suit brought by Apple against Samsung's Galaxy's tablet.
Clients are generally positive about the firm. "They are very responsive. We've had some good successes and we've had some setbacks but we have a very long working relationship and the overall experience is excellent," notes one who works with the firm's patent practice. The client, who works with Matthias Meyer on the litigation side and Daniela Kinkeldey for prosecution, adds: "They work well as team, together and with us. When it's necessary to meet short deadlines they give us their all." Another considers the firm good value for money, remarking: "They are expensive but I think they're worth the price. We have a good open relationship where we try and control the cost as much as possible."
One adds the caveat, however, that while the firm's wide reach can be useful it can also be a hindrance. "The international network can be helpful, but it also means they can have conflicts and are less flexible. Sometimes they also try to bring in their own teams when you have work in another jurisdiction, and sometimes we want to work with another firm."