Austria escaped relatively unscathed from the global financial downturn and to date its compact licensing marketplace remains stable. IP lawyers note that one effect of the crash has been that companies are increasingly looking for ways to exploit unused rights, including through licensing their patents and technology. Licensing work is carried out by a small number of wellestablished firms which, for the most part, are based in Vienna. Although some international players also have a presence, domestic law firms continue to rule the roost. This group includes a mix of full service outfits and IP specialists; in addition, a number of boutique firms set up in recent years are thriving. In-licensing predominates, although Austria does have some patent and technologyproducing industries, including in the life sciences, electronics, IT and paper sectors. Interviewees also report an increase in licensing work from start-up companies and research institutions. Universities assumed control of their budgets in 2004 and since then have been looking to raise funds from licensing. The growing economies and increasing levels of IP activity in Eastern Europe have also had an impact: many domestic firms have a solid foothold across the region, due to historical connections, and are therefore well placed to absorb licensing work from these fast-developing areas.
Viewed as a “highly serious firm”, this large commercial outfit counts Austrian and international companies among its clients. Licensing is an increasingly important aspect of its portfolio management work, which takes in the technology, banking and software sectors. CMS enjoys the benefits of a global network of affiliated outfits. Egon Engin-Deniz heads the IP practice across Europe and is thus in an excellent position to handle multi-jurisdictional licensing work, including cross-licensing and technology transfer agreements.DLA Piper Weiss-Tessbach
Lawyers at DLA Piper’s Vienna base serve as a conduit between the firm’s established offices in Western Europe and its newer and growing branches across Central and Eastern Europe. The “thorough, detailed and action-oriented” Alexander Cizek heads the IP and IT group, with a client base ranging from small and medium-sized enterprises to global corporations. Clients report that he understands their business needs and praise his “in-depth analysis from different angles and broad perspective beyond the scope of the task”.e|n|w|c Natlacen Walderdorff Cancola Rechtsanwälte
State-owned companies generate a significant part of e|n|w|c's licensing work. The firm, which represents small and new companies as well as international organisations, has major clients in the transport and industrial sectors, and sees further activity in the life sciences and telecommunications spheres. Founding partner Dieter Natlacen, who leads the IT department and heads the Italian desk, is well versed in arbitration. His broad IP practice includes advising innovative pharmaceutical companies in commercial and licensing matters. “He is highly experienced and extremely accurate, and we have every confidence in the advice he provides,” interviewees report. Rainer Schultes has a background in mechanical engineering and is an expert in patent litigation, design protection and unfair competition, as well as licensing; he has authored a chapter on licence agreements in a manual for the Austrian legal market. Clients appreciate his “very quick and accurate responses”.Fiebinger, Polak, Leon & Partners Atorneys at Law GmbH
Established in 1990 by a group of IP experts, this mid-sized business law firm has since maintained its strength in IP matters. Fiebinger handles licensing work across a wide range of industries for domestic and international clients, with a particular strength in life sciences. It recently advised a US company on the acquisition and licensing of intellectual property in relation to augmented reality technology. Licensing matters account for a substantial percentage of Constantin Kletzer’s workload. He heads the IP department and is particularly active in the telecommunications, paper and life sciences industries.Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP
Freshfields’ Vienna office is best known for handling corporate, tax and banking issues, but it is also active in intellectual property, particularly cross-border work. An experienced litigator across the IP spectrum, Christof Pöchhacker also undertakes patent and technology licensing. He is particularly adept at negotiating complex deals involving the reassessment of agreements where the technological landscape has changed, leaving the terms open to interpretation. Sectors he is active in include software and e-commerce.Gassauer-Fleissner Rechtsanwälte GmbH
Although it also handles corporate legal matters, this ensemble has a strong focus on intellectual property and is arguably the leading IP firm in Austria. As an extremely wellrespected practice, Gassauer-Fleissner enjoys a high level of market recognition for its licensing work. The firm tends to work on standalone licensing deals for a mix of international and Austrian clients across a number of sectors. Michael Wolner is a young lawyer with an excellent reputation. He has a strong focus on licensing and is “extremely efficient and straight talking; he gets the job done and he does it very neatly”. Senior partner Christian Gassauer-Fleissner is a leading figure on the Austrian IP scene. His experience also takes in corporate and general commercial law; although best known as a litigator, he additionally handles patent licensing.Schoenherr
Despite the recent departure of two lawyers to form boutique firm Salomonowitz Horak, Schoenherr remains a leading player on the market. The firm is especially strong in IP matters and has a significant and longstanding presence across Central and Eastern Europe. A large department focuses on intellectual property, information technology and life sciences for Austria and the wider region. Partner Guido Kucsko is one of the bestknown lawyers in Austria, with licensing matters just one colour in a varied palette of all-round IP skills. He is an adjunct professor in IP law at the University of Vienna.Schwarz Schönherr Rechtsanwalte KG
One of a handful of significant boutiques in Austria, Schwarz Schönherr has been operating since 2006. It has a general corporate practice, but remains best known for IP matters; licensing work includes patent licence agreements, technology transfer and know-how contracts. The firm has won particular renown for its expertise in the pharmaceutical field. Founding partner and head of the IP department Georg Schönherr is a well-regarded figure with a high degree of specialision in licensing, who is recognised as “an expert in this area”.Wiltschek Rechtsanwälte
Formed in 2004, Wiltschek is fairly small but nonetheless occupies a highly regarded position in the marketplace; two of its four lawyers focus on patent matters, which include licensing. The boutique is acclaimed as a “key player that has no problem handling the biggest matters”. It was founded by the hugely experienced Lothar Wiltschek, after a long and successful career at Schoenherr; a “top-notch lawyer and an excellent specialist”, he retains his status as one of the leading practitioners in Austria for litigation and across the IP spectrum.Wolf Theiss
One of the country’s largest full service outfits, Wolf Theiss also has a significant presence in Eastern Europe. It has recently seen an increase in joint research and development agreements, including cross-licensing, while software licensing is also a growing area. “Stand-out lawyer” Georg Kresbach heads the IP department and has particular experience in IT matters. Clients enthuse that “his hands-on approach, reactivity and business acumen are of utmost benefit for our business”. Alexander Schnider is known in the Austrian marketplace as a specialist in licensing and also comes highly recommended for his licensing work. He “possesses great legal and detailed technological knowledge, and operates with a hands-on and business-driven attitude”.
Peter Burgstaller at Linz-based Rechtsanwälte specialises in licensing work and has written extensively on the subject. His clients are generally domestic companies in the IT and manufacturing industries. Sascha Salomonowitz recently left Schoenherr to set up boutique firm Salomonowitz Horak. Commentators predict that the new firm is likely to showcase his exceptional licensing and IP experience.