Olswang team rivals patent specialists after new hires” />Olswang has ramped up its unique in-house patent filing and prosecution practice with the hire of three patent attorneys and a trademarks partner, to go head-to-head with the UK’s specialist patent attorneys.

The firm has hired Brian Williamson, head of international patents at technology group NCR, as head of patent prosecution. Nortel patent attorneys Rachel Free and Helen Wallis also joining the firm. The hires increase the number of patent attorneys at Olswang to five. Williamson will replace former patents head Stephen Carter, who left the firm to return to patent attorney firm Mewburn Ellis.

Olswang kickstarted its in-house patents group five years ago in response to dissatisfaction with the service it was getting from specialist patent and trademark attorney firms. It remains the only UK law firm to operate an in-house patent filing and prosecution practice staffed by patent attorneys.

Only a few US firms, including Howrey Simon Arnold & White, McDermott Will & Emery and Mintz Levin have sought to establish patent practices in London, although the departure of Howrey partner Koos Rasser to Amsterdam saw the bulk of Howrey’s London patent practice regroup in the Netherlands. Of UK firms, Field Fisher Waterhouse has a collaboration with patent attorney firm Mathys & Squire.

Meanwhile, patent attorney firm Marks & Clerk last year brought associated law firm Blair & Co under its banner and immediately challenged the Government to speed up reforms allowing it to operate as a multidisciplinary partnership.

Law Society rules currently prohibit lawyers and patent attorneys operating in partnership, although Olswang joint head of IP Michael Burden said the firm would “hit the ground running” when the Clementi reforms are implemented.

Meanwhile, Baker Botts’ Houston trademark practice head Robin Lightner Maisashvili is joining Olswang’s London office as a partner.

Burdon said: “These are significant, client-driven appointments and fantastic additions to our team.”

l As first revealed on www. thelawyer.com (30th March), Olswang has also hired White & Case litigation partner Richard Bamforth.