Victoria’s intellectual property lawyers reported a market that was active but not booming over the past 12-18 months. Those practices with strong patent litigation practices (particularly pharmaceutical patents) saw stronger activity however the tendency towards fighting over every potential penny in commercial dealings did see contentious soft IP matters also keeping Victoria’s IP lawyers busy.
Rise of the “Top-Tier”…
The strongest market influence in recent times though has been the resurgence of the traditional “top-tier” firms. Herbert Smith Freehills who have historically positioned highly in our Victorian IP rankings have strengthened further still. The promotion of partner Patrick Sands in 2014 has largely removed the view that the Melbourne team struggled for depth and Sands was noted as being “particularly impressive”. At Clayton Utz young partner Richard Hoad has established a firmer footing within the market and, in combination with the widely respected Chris McLeod, have managed to return the firm’s Melbourne IP team to a genuine market force.
The perennially strong practices at Allens and Ashurst continue to perform well and each has a team of highly regarded partners whose standing in our rankings continues to improve.
Finally, the majority of attention is rightly directed towards Minter Ellison. The addition of former King & Wood Mallesons Partners Wayne McMaster, Robert Cooper, their team and their files has taken Minter’s Melbourne contentious IP practice from being thereabouts to top of market.
On the flip side unfortunately is King & Wood Mallesons who despite strong Sydney capabilities, have little if any, genuine contentious IP capabilities in the Melbourne office.
Victoria is home to the majority of Australia’s strongest specialist IP firms and while these firms have never lacked market impact the likes of Davies Collison Cave, Griffith Hack, Phillips Ormonde Fitzpatrick and to a slightly lesser extent Watermark IP all continue to improve their market position. The continued strength of such firms and the active role played by larger national/international firms leaves little room for the mid-tier though whose participants are all but absent from our 2015 rankings.
The Sydney Effect?
Despite no dedicated intellectual property personnel in its Melbourne office Gilbert + Tobin still managed to poll well in our firm rankings. It’s partly a reflection of the quality of the firm’s Sydney practice and partly as a result of a practice area where, at the top end of the market, state boundaries and relationships are becoming increasingly irrelevant.