Howrey closes London IP practice as City office head joins Field Fisher

Howrey has closed its intellectual property (IP) practice in London following the departure of London managing partner Mark Hodgson to Field Fisher Waterhouse.

Hodgson’s move follows three partner departures from Howrey’s London IP practice during 2010 – Marjan Noor, Paul Inman and Richard Willoughby, who joined Simmons & Simmons, Wragge & Co and Rouse Legal respectively.

The departures leave the City office with four remaining partners – litigator John Evans and antitrust partners Geert Goeteyn, Shaun Goodman and Tom McQuail.

Howrey managing partner and chief executive Robert Ruyak said the firm was shifting its emphasis from having its own offices in Europe to working with a network of other firms.

He said: “Due to very difficult and repetitive conflict issues in the IP area, we made a strategic move to reduce significantly our on the ground European IP practice.

“As of 1 January, we have spun off a number of our IP partners and associates into a new independent law firm on the continent with whom we will continue to cooperate. This did not include Mark, who I understand felt that it would be better to be part of a UK firm. We hope to continue to work with him as well.”

Hodgson’s successor as London managing partner is as yet unconfirmed. He has headed up the firm’s London office since September 2008, when he succeeded Trevor Soames.

Hodgson advises pharma, medical device and biotechnology companies on IP, regulatory, product liability and parallel import matters.

Field Fisher IP litigation head Nick Rose said: “We are committed to investing in IP both in the UK and across Europe as part of the firm’s focus on companies that are highly regulated and those with business models driven by IP and technology.

“Mark will be a significant addition to the team, enabling us to expand our patent litigation capability to match our expertise in other areas of IP such as trade marks.”

The news comes three months after it was announced that Howrey’s Europe IP head Willem Hoyng and a dozen other partners were departing to set up a new firm, citing client conflicts and poor workflow with the US side of the firm.

The team breaking away from the firm included European IP head Benoit Strowel, Amsterdam managing partner Bart van den Broek, Brussels IP head Carl de Meyer and Amsterdam partner Joris van Manen.

The spin-off firm, Hoyng Monegier, opened its doors this month with a total of 19 partners and 30 associates, who advise across the full spectrum of IP issues and industry sectors.