Patent litigator at Kupecz intellectual property, of counsel Simmons & Simmons LLP
UCU: Bachelor of Science (Biochemistry, Molecular Biology)
After UCU: Utrecht University; MSc (Molecular Biology)
University of Amsterdam: LLM (Private Law)
Why did you choose to go to UCU? "I actually wanted to become a doctor but didn’t get through the lottery system. I then decided to start studying Biology at Utrecht University and it was during my first year that I heard of the initiative of Hans Adriaansens of founding a University College that would offer a pre-med track. I decided to seize this opportunity and applied. At UCU I discovered that medicine was not the only thing that interested me; there were many more interesting subjects and I became particularly focused on the biochemical and biological mechanisms behind disease.
How would you describe your experience at UCU? I’ve experienced a fantastic time at UCU. When we started in 1998, there was absolutely nothing; it was all sand and mud and some units ready for us to live in. We had to start the whole student life from scratch which was great. I got involved with the barco and helped found the college bar. I very much enjoyed the intensive social contacts. I experienced the level of education as very high, the teaching faculty very dedicated, and the fact that you could study a broad range of subjects was very attractive to me.
How did your career develop after UCU? After UCU I proceeded to do a Masters in Biology, with a focus on biochemistry and molecular Biology. After obtaining my MSc I decided to move away from research as I felt there was a world out there besides the world of science, that I wanted to explore. I started to train and work as patent attorney, representing clients before patent offices in several technical fields, including pharmaceuticals and medical devices. At a certain point I became acquainted with legal procedures and lawyers and to be able to represent clients in court appealed to me. Soon afterwards I decided to study private law and to pursue a career as a patent litigator, which I did at Freshfields and Simmons & Simmons.
Why did you decide to start your own business? Through the years I’ve developed myself as niche specialist in patent law. There are maybe 30 others in the Netherlands who do the same work as I do - and within this niche I’m even specifically focused on pharma and biotech. I found that clients specifically turned to me and in order to service them as flexibly and optimally as possible, starting my own practice was the best thing to do. I still work with Simmons on a frequent basis as of counsel, which is beneficial for both of us. I represent clients in patent litigation proceedings in the Dutch courts and the European patent office. I also provide clients with strategic advice when it comes to their intellectual property issues. So I come in when there is an issue regarding a patent or when a client expects an issue to arise. What I don’t do anymore is helping clients draft and file patent applications.
Running your own business, isn’t that a lonely adventure? In a way, every litigator is an individualist; you are the one that has to solve problems for your clients and ultimately presents their case in court, even if you work for a large law firm.
However I’m never lonely because in my daily business I always collaborate with specialist teams. I work with my colleagues at Simmons, foreign lawyers, experts and clients. So I have to be a team player. The fact that I work independently is a big advantage in the niche industry in which I operate: it enables me to create flexible specialist teams on an ad hoc basis, depending on the case I do.
What has the impact of UCU been on your personal and professional life? In my work I benefit each day from my academic (scientific) background which was based at UC. When working for international law firms like Freshfields and Simmons, it was further a great asset to have a UCU background, as I was used to interact within an international setting. Also, my clients and the cases I handle are by definition international. Personally I learnt a lot from the intensive social interaction on campus. A lot of friendships made at UCU are still alive. And last but not least… I met my wife at UCU.
How would you like to stay connected to UCU? It would be nice to occasionally have an event with alumni, maybe in combination with an interesting talk being held by an alumnus."