Life Sciences

We are well known for providing specialist IP advice in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and biosimilars, diagnostics, medical devices, bioinformatics, digital health and plant protection. Our award-winning team in life sciences is led by practitioners who have been at the forefront of the sector for decades, acting in landmark cases before the EPO and the national courts of Europe. The team consists of experienced patent attorneys, litigators, SPC experts and trademark attorneys supported by technical and high-level paralegal assistants.  

A combination of PhD degrees at leading universities, academic experience and hands-on experience within industry-leading companies, academic research, and extensive patent expertise, characterizes our life sciences team patent attorneys and enables them to solve even the most challenging problems. 

In the field of life sciences, the EPO has imposed several additional limitations on patentability of inventions such as new medical uses of known compounds, stem cell technology inventions, gene sequence inventions, new dosage regimens, diagnostic and surgical methods, plant and animal breeding methods and bred plants and animals. 

In the development of inventions either for pharmaceutical, food, feed or other applications, the issue of scope of the claims is often of major importance for the value of the patent and at the same time an issue of debate within the national patent offices. It is important to draft patent applications which contain the necessary basis to ensure appropriate protection. 

In life sciences, the claim scope which is found allowable by the EPO based on a model system is often a critical issue and the commercial product is often not yet fully envisaged at the time the invention is made. To optimize the scope of patent protection, it is necessary to consider all aspects of the invention and carefully consider the patent drafting strategy in view of the availability of data. 

Our high level of expertise in the different specific fields of life sciences ensures that these issues are taken into account at the first moment that the invention is considered in order to properly draft priority documents. 

We have an extensive team of patent attorneys and advisers who have an in-depth experience  

in the field of biotechnology. We advise our clients on the acceptable scope of biotechnological claims and the best strategy for protection within the present legal frameworks. Our patent attorneys and advisers rendering services in this field all have strong scientific backgrounds and are closely involved in monitoring the evolution of the case law in biotechnology. 

Our prominence in biotechnological patenting is also reflected by the long-standing 20 year appointment of our founding partner Dr. Ann De Clercq until summer 2023 as chair of the European Patent Professionals Institute (epi) Committee on Biotechnology. Currently our partner Dr. Koen Vanhalst represents Belgium in the epi Biotech Committee and our partner Dr. Andrej Michalik is a member for Belgium of the EPPC committee of epi. Dr. Ann De Clercq is currently Deputy Secretary and BE council member for epi.  

Protection of inventions in the plant-related sector can be sought through the breeder’s rights system (plant variety rights) or through patent protection of e.g. transgenic or gene- edited plants. Both Dr. Liesbet Paemen and Dr. Ann De Clercq started their academic careers in the transgenic plant field. Liesbet further worked at transgenic plant pioneer Plant Genetics Systems prior to becoming a patent attorney. Their team has been completed with Dr. ir. Caroline Hennin, who headed the IP department at Cropdesign (now BASF Plant Science), Dr. Annelies De Clercq who got a PhD at the Department of Plant Biotechnology of the VIB and Dr. Ann Viaene who headed the IP Department of Devgen (later Syngenta). We are also a member of CIOPORA. 

Dr. Ann De Clercq and Dr. Koen Vanhalst were previous EPO examiners in Life Sciences field and Dr. Ann De Clercq headed the patent department of Innogenetics in the human healthcare Biotech filed.  

Our team of (Belgian) Patent Attorneys has extensive experience in protecting and defending the extension of the term of patents via Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs) before the national patent offices. Patents pertaining to a particular medical or plant protection product can be extended by a period of not more than five years through such Supplementary protection certificates. 

Our life sciences team consists of some reputed patent attorneys with extensive experience of EPO opposition and appeal procedure work.  The emphasis is on staying at the forefront of legal developments, actively seeking feedback and engaging in debate during team meetings to develop innovative strategies for drafting, prosecution, and litigation. The goal is to maintain a reputation for providing reliable, thoughtful, and relevant advice to clients. 

Furthermore, we place importance on building strong relationships with clients. This is achieved by fostering trust through open communication and consistently delivering actions that align with the clients' needs, expectations and IP strategy. 

Additionally, we take a comprehensive approach to intellectual property (IP) matters. Patent specialists collaborate closely with the trademark and transactions teams to provide clients with a complete IP service, addressing various aspects of intellectual property protection and management. 

Overall, the focus is on delivering high-quality legal services while prioritizing client relationships and staying up to date with the latest developments in the legal field. 

Our team won two times in a row the “Opposition Procedure Firm of the Year” at LMG Life Sciences EMEA Awards in 2022 and 2023. We were awarded "Patent Attorney Firm of the Year in Belgium" at the Global IP Awards in 2023, “Belgian Prosecution Firm of the Year 2023” at the Managing IP Awards and the "Best IP Firms for Patent Prosecution” category Leading by Leaders League in 2023.

“De Clercq & Partners is a first-rate practice that operates at the very top of European patent prosecution and truly deserves its excellent reputation. Its strong team of attorneys bring a diverse set of technical and legal expertise, and are highly valued for their availability, diligence and commitment.” Founding partner Ann De Clercq is at the forefront and earns rave reviews from the market: “Ann is a pioneer of intellectual property in Belgium and has a thorough knowledge of the sector, along with a great understanding of the scientific aspects. She is insightful, efficient, responsive and dispenses legal advice according to the needs and objectives of her clients’ business. She always complies with deadlines, collaborates effectively with in-house teams and leads an extremely strong group at De Clercq & Partners.” The firm has many talented prosecutors on board who each come highly recommended by patrons and peers alike: “Caroline Hennin delivers a great service and has strong expertise. She understands the importance of communication and keeps patrons well informed throughout the patenting process.” “Liesbet Paemen is an excellent practitioner who is friendly, flexible, fast and seemingly available around the clock. She understands the needs and concerns of an emerging biotechnology company very well, and carefully considers business aspects, such as the budget limitations young companies usually experience. Liesbet can be relied on for a very high-quality work product and in-depth advice.” “Excellent expert Andrej Michalík is a highly proficient filer who brings clarity, in-depth knowledge and outside-of-the-box thinking to his practice.” “Jeffrey Gyi is flexible, intelligent, reliable and extremely helpful. He goes deep into the details and is quick to grasp the technical aspects in order to draft accurate and high-quality patent applications that guarantee a positive outcome. Jeffrey has a total understanding of client needs and works hard to meet these through clear strategies and well-structured communication.” “The very talented Koen Vanhalst is calm and pragmatic, with a very sound knowledge of patent law and a great understanding of litigation strategies.” The “excellent European patent prosecution attorney” Sakina Bounaga has recently teamed up with Vanhalst to represent Cosucra Groupe Warcoing in ongoing opposition proceedings against medical device company Abbott Laboratories.”

IAM Patent 100 2023

De Clercq & Partners is one of the leading Belgian firms for patent protection and portfolio management work, particularly in the fields of biotechnology and chemistry. The firm has several experienced European patent attorneys such as Ann De Clercq, Sakina Bounaga, and Liesbet Paemen.”

Managing IP STARS Reviews 2023

Key Contacts

Ann De Clercq

Ann De Clercq, PhD

Partner, European Patent Attorney, Belgian Patent Attorney, European Patent Litigator
Read more | Ann De Clercq
Koen Vanhalst

Koen Vanhalst, PhD

European Patent Litigator, Belgian Patent Attorney, European Patent Attorney, Partner
Read more | Koen Vanhalst
Liesbet Paemen

Liesbet Paemen, PhD

Partner, European Patent Attorney, European Patent Litigator
Read more | Liesbet Paemen
Andrej Michalík

Andrej Michalík, PhD

European Patent Litigator, European Patent Attorney, Partner
Read more | Andrej Michalík
Jeffrey (Jeff) Gyi

Jeffrey (Jeff) Gyi, PhD

European Patent Attorney, European Patent Litigator
Read more | Jeffrey (Jeff) Gyi
ir. Caroline Hennin

ir. Caroline Hennin, PhD

European Patent Litigator, Belgian Patent Attorney, European Patent Attorney
Read more | ir. Caroline Hennin
ir. Kris Pappaert

ir. Kris Pappaert, PhD

European Patent Litigator, European Patent Attorney
Read more | ir. Kris Pappaert
ir. David Lesthaeghe

ir. David Lesthaeghe, PhD

European Patent Litigator, Belgian Patent Attorney, European Patent Attorney
Read more | ir. David Lesthaeghe
Annelies De Clercq

Annelies De Clercq, PhD

European Patent Litigator, European Patent Attorney
Read more | Annelies De Clercq