Firm profile: HGF Law

HGF Law is the two-partner patent litigation spin-off of patent and trademark attorneys Harrison Goddard Foote.

Chairman: Paul Sanderson
Turnover: £750,000
Fee-earners: Five
Lawyers: Two partners, one associate, two consultants
Main practice areas: IP licensing and technology transfer, disputes, litigation
Key clients: Eaton Corporation, Information Commissioner, The Medical House, Sheffield University Enterprises, Trigen
Number of offices: Two
Location: Leeds, London

HGF Law is the two-partner patent litigation spin-off of patent and trademark attorneys Harrison Goddard Foote.

Founded in 2002 by Paul Sanderson, a former IP litigator at DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, and Jason Lumber, a former IP litigator at Clifford Chance, the firm was previously known as Sanderson Lumber. But, as Sanderson explains, the firm’s name was changed in January this year “to more closely link the associations in the mind of our clients”.

The name change was also conducted in anticipation of the Government’s legal reforms following the publication of the Clementi Review in December 2004, as HGF Law and Harrison Goddard Foote hope to merge into an alternative business structure (ABS), one of the new legal entities the report recommends.

If given the go-ahead, the merger of HGF Law, which turns over £750,000 a year, and Harrison Goddard Foote, which turns over a much more substantial £13m, would create a 25-partner, 21-associate business operating in London, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield and York.

In the meantime, Sanderson says HGF Law competes with the likes of Bird & Bird, DLA Piper, Simmons & Simmons and Taylor Wessing.

“We certainly see ourselves as taking on the regional heavyweights,” he adds. “There’s an opportunity for an organisation like ours that undercuts the heavyweights. For patent litigation we charge 40-50 per cent less than London competitors.”

However, Sanderson concedes that HGF Law struggles to secure spin-off clients from Harrison Goddard Foote.

“Not all clients want all their eggs in one basket,” he says. “It’s a question of taking the opportunities as they arrive. All clients buy on trust, and if you have a relationship [with a firm] going back years, and they’ve provided you with good advice, why switch?
“The attorneys at Harrison Goddard Foote have to explain to clients why synergy can pay dividends – for instance, in that you don’t have to worry about procedural issues, communication is better, or you don’t have as many drafting or control issues.”

Meanwhile, Sanderson says HGF Law is searching for a “heavyweight” litigator in London, with “significant patent and trademark experience, personal reputation and a desire to work hand-in-glove with patent and trademark attorneys.”

He adds that HGF Law’s other aims are to double in size within the next five years, as well as “growing the client base, developing our service offering and formally moving to become one organisation”.