Wragge & Co opens Munich IP base

Wragge & Co is to open an IP litigation office in Munich by September, though it will maintain its relationship with German best friend Graf von Westphalen, which also has a Munich presence.

Wragges head of IP Gordon Harris said: “The rationale internally has been very clear: it was a market-driven, client-driven IP venture and our relationship with Graf remains perfectly intact and they also see it as a great opportunity for them.”

He added: “We found, particularly when selling into the US market, we needed to have a German office. Increasingly, if you have European patents US clients ask themselves whether to enforce in the US or in Germany and quite frequently the answer to that is Germany.”

The new office will initially be staffed with two new hires – partner Michael Schneider, who joins from German firm Meissner Bolte, and senior associate Alexander Bayer from Jones Day in Germany.

The Munich office will focus exclusively on IP litigation. Harris said there are “absolutely no plans” for any other of Wragges’ practice groups to launch in Munich.

Graf does not offer IP litigation capacity in Germany, although the firm does deal in IP, brand-protection and registrations, reported German magazine Juve.

In 2001, Osborne Clarke‘s alliance with Graf ended in acrimony after Osborne Clarke poached a number of partners from the German firm’s Cologne office (The Lawyer 30 April 2001).

Harris ruled out an eventual merger between Wragges and Graf, adding: “They’re quite independently minded and they like that we are too.”

IP makes up around 10 per cent of Wragges’ global turnover. The firm has other offices in Birmingham, London, Brussels, Hong Kong and Guangzhou.

Graf has offices throughout Germany, as well as in Alicante, Brussels, Vienna and Shanghai.