Herbert Smith Freehills has been named IP Team of the Year at The Lawyer Awards 2017, for its work defending one of the largest-ever patent cases to be heard in the UK High Court.

Earlier this month, Herbert Smith Freehills was also awarded Transatlantic IP Team of the Year at the American Lawyer Awards 2017, for the team's successful work on Gilead (and was also named Litigation Team of the Year for work on the disputes surrounding the collapse of the Nortel Networks group).

Mark Shillito, Global Head of IP and Head of Disputes UK & US, said: "We're on a real roll at the moment and these accolades recognise what we already know: IP and disputes are both teams right at the top of their game; many congratulations to the whole team, richly deserved."

The firm was named IP Team of the Year by The Lawyer for its successful defence of Gilead Sciences, in response to patent infringement proceedings brought against it by rival pharmaceutical company, Idenix (now Merck), in a number of jurisdictions.

Partner Sebastian Moore led the team on this matter, which also included senior associates Alex Freelove and Julian Gauld, and associates Andrew Wells and Emily Bottle.

The Lawyer commented:

"There are few IP pharma litigation cases that don’t have greater implications in the healthcare field. But when thinking about standout cases in 2016, one comes front of mind: the end of Gilead Sciences’ fight against Idenix (now Merck) across Europe, which sought to prevent the sale of a revolutionary Hepatitis C treatment, sofosbuvir.

Herbert Smith Freehills and its client Gilead devised a strategy to challenge the validity of the patent in the UK and have the trial expedited such that a favourable decision could be obtained in advance of the German action. In this way the favourable UK decision could be deployed to convince the German court not to grant an injunction and to stay the German infringement proceedings.

This game plan, which had to be executed quickly and effectively in the months leading up to the German action, enabled Gilead to leverage a thorough and respected decision of the UK court (involving disclosure and expert cross-examination) to its advantage across Europe.

For the strategy to work, Gilead had to request extreme expedition of a very complex patent trial, with both scientific and US law issues in dispute. The appeal, which concluded last year, saw Herbert Smith Freehills’ strategy vindicated when the judges upheld the High Court ruling.

Perhaps more importantly, the Herbert Smith Freehills ruling had a positive impact on the parallel proceedings in Australia, Canada and the European Patent Office, all of which were also decided in favour of Gilead. The fact that a trial of this magnitude and complexity was dealt with so quickly was seen as ground breaking by the firm’s peers in the field."

This year, over 70 judges across private practice, in-house and the Bar debated entries from a record number of law firms and winners were finally announced last night (27 June, 2017) at a ceremony at The Grosvenor House Hotel in London.

The firm was shortlisted in four other categories including: Competition Team of the Year; Infrastructure Projects Team of the Year; Law firm of the Year; and Litigation Team of the Year.