The ever-increasing importance of inter-operability and standardisation has been reflected in a surge in litigation of Standard Essential Patents and FRAND issues. The UK jurisdiction has taken a leading position with its willingness to provide a global solution.

With its leading high-tech patent litigation and competition law practices, and over a decade’s experience in leading cases, Bristows is uniquely placed to advise both patent owners and implementers alike.

SEP/FRAND disputes require a particular type of expertise possessed by only a very few firms globally. At Bristows, five partners and a group of specialist associates within the patent litigation group work seamlessly with two partners and their associates in the competition law group to provide a bespoke service which is second to none.

In an area where forum shopping is of critical importance, our expertise naturally extends to the jurisdictional and international coordination aspects of the subject. Our market-leading patent litigation practice, with numerous physicists, engineers and computer scientists, can deal with the most complex technology, be it in telecoms, automotive or other sectors. Our competition team, with its deep understanding of the economic and commercial realities of licensing can frame the best possible case for an appropriate FRAND licence, whether that case needs to be made in court, before an arbitral panel, or a competition regulator.

Bristows’ clients, whether they are patentees, implementers or patent pools, trust the combined team to really ‘get’ the issues in this complex and fast-moving field.

We are familiar with many ETSI, IEEE, ITU and other standards, and the patent litigators understand the particular issues arising in the litigation of standard essential patents, such as identification of working group proposals which may form part of the prior art. The competition team understands how FRAND licences are negotiated in practice, and common issues such as hold-up / hold out, royalty stacking and privateering, as well as advising on compliance with the Huawei v ZTE CJEU regime both before and during litigation.

Key contacts

Myles Jelf


Sophie Lawrance

CLIP Board

Sign up to receive The CLIP Board updates


IPCom (patent owner): litigating numerous patents from a portfolio of ETSI declared essential patents against Nokia and others (over a period of more than a decade).

Samsung & Google (implementers): defending proceedings by Unwired Planet under a portfolio of five declared ETSI essential patents and one feature patent to successful settlements.

Philips (patent owner):

  • litigation against ASUS and HTC concerning three ETSI declared essential patents including a licence defence (rebutted) and FRAND issues
  • defending proceedings by Vestel for abuse of dominant position regards patents declared essential to HEVC.

ZTE (implementer): litigation by Conversant in respect of four ETSI declared essential patents involving jurisdictional challenges (Supreme Court hearing scheduled for October 2019) as well as standard SEP litigation and FRAND issues.

Samsung: working with Samsung as both implementer and patent owner on competition issues involving FRAND before the European Commission.

Latest articles

What others say

“Bristows is renowned for its members’ work assisting innovative companies from a range of industries with their intellectual property needs. In this year’s research, 11 industry-leading experts have been recognised for their patent law expertise, including three Thought Leaders.”

Who's Who Legal 2018

“Bristows operates an absolutely top-drawer IP litigation practice – especially as regards pharmaceutical and life sciences patents. There’s no question that it deserves its excellent reputation.”

IAM Patent 1000 2018

“Bristows LLP has been described as ‘undoubtedly one of the leading IP firms’ and attracts praise for its ‘strong legal and technical expertise’.”

Legal 500 2019/2018

“Deep bench of high-calibre litigators with supreme expertise in contentious patent, trade mark, designs and copyright matters.”

Chambers and Partners 2019

“‘go to’ firm for cost-effective patent litigation in all areas of technology”

Legal 500 2019/2018

Recent rankings and awards

IP: Patent Litigation - Band 1
Chambers and Partners 2019

IAM Patent 1000 2019
Gold - Litigation

Patent Litigation - Leading firm
UK Best Law Firms, Leaders League 2018

Patent Contentious - Tier 1
Managing Intellectual Property, IP Stars 2018

Competition Law - Band 5
Chambers Europe 2019

Competition Law - Band 5
Chambers UK 2019

Competition litigation - Tier 3
Legal 500 2019

EU and Competition - Tier 4
Legal 500 2019