IP STARS is an annual publication based on research primarily done over a six-month period, starting from September each year. However, our research analysts regularly monitor firms and individuals and can conduct research on them at any time in the year. 

Our rankings are based on a weighted review of information submitted by firms, publicly available information, and market feedback.

Please also read the information on our FAQs page (click here) and research forms page (click here).


General information

Each year, Managing IP’s research analysts in London, New York and Hong Kong obtain information from thousands of firms, IP practitioners and their clients through interviews, emails and online surveys. Before compiling the rankings, our research analysts also conduct their own independent research, including an analysis of publicly available information (such as court or IP office data) and the existing data we hold on firms.

All our rankings are based on the information available at the time the research was completed. Except for firm name changes, any subsequent developments or information that can influence our ranking decisions will be considered during the research for the next edition. However, Managing IP reserves the right to remove a firm or individual from our website at any time. 

The research is conducted rigorously and impartially. There is no fee to pay to participate in the research. Individuals and firms can publish their own IP practice profile in the handbook and/or on our website for a fee, but this does not influence the rankings whatsoever. No firm or individual can pay to be ranked or to influence the results.

Furthermore, the rankings are not influenced by the Managing IP Awards programme, and vice versa. For the avoidance of doubt, our rankings do not suggest that the services or expertise of the ranked firms or individuals are limited to the practice area mentioned, and Managing IP does not endorse any particular firm or individual.

IP STARS is not a directory of all firms and individuals offering IP services. Participation in our research does not guarantee ranking, and our rankings are subject to change each year.

Below we provide an overview of what we consider. See our FAQs page for more information.

The practice areas

Please note that we do not have all the practice area rankings listed below in all jurisdictions. They are subject to change each year and we may decide to discontinue or add a practice area.

  • Prosecution ranking (patent and trade mark): For this we consider protection/registration-related work including protection strategy and portfolio management advice and IP Office proceedings such as oppositions and appeals. We may take account of litigation support work for the patent prosecution rankings. Where appropriate, especially in Europe, we also consider work done at the regional IP Offices such as the EPO.

  • Contentious ranking (patent and trade mark): We consider all disputes and enforcement work. It does not matter whether the dispute is in a court/tribunal or reached trial. Where appropriate, we can consider related practice areas; for example, for the trade mark contentious ranking we can also consider domain name disputes. Please note that we do not normally consider IP Office proceedings here. Where appropriate, especially in Europe, we also consider work done at the regional courts such as the CJEU.

  • Copyright ranking: We consider non-contentious and contentious copyright as well as related rights (e.g. performers right and database right) work in all copyright-based sectors, including software.

  • Life sciences IP ranking (US only): We consider all IP and related regulatory work in sectors such as pharmaceutical and biotechnology. Typical work assessed include advice on patent term extension rights, market exclusivity rights, and the Orange Book/Hatch-Waxman Act.

  • ITC litigation ranking: We consider contentious and non-contentious IP work relating to the US International Trade Commission (ITC).

  • PTAB litigation ranking: We consider USPTO trial proceedings, particularly Inter Partes Review (IPR) work.

  • IP transactions ranking: We consider work or advice concerning the sale or licensing of IP. We can also consider advice related to research collaboration agreements and IP tax relief. For the Managing IP awards, we focus on transactions which demonstrate a high level of sophistication and understanding of how to extract commercial value from IP. All IP-related transactions, regardless of monetary value, are considered.

  • Design ranking: We consider registered and unregistered design work. Until we introduce this ranking table, we will consider design case studies in jurisdictions where we have a general ‘Intellectual Property’ ranking table as well as for the Managing IP awards.

  • Intellectual property ranking: Here we consider all IP-related work.


Firm ranking

Factors we evaluate

Each year we look at a firm's strengths in the practice area concerned and client outcomes achieved. The key information we evaluate include:

  • the experts in the firm, track record, sectors covered, and depth of resources;
  • the size of workload and its level of sophistication;
  • changes within the firm, especially staff hires or departures and client wins or losses; and
  • competitor and client feedback received.

These are assessed cumulatively and no one factor is decisive. For example, positive feedback on its own does not guarantee a higher ranking or any ranking. When assessing firms, we may also review and take account of any relevant data we obtained in previous years. Researchers can also rank firms and/or individuals using independent research data.

Participation in our research or surveys does not guarantee that a firm will be ranked.

Firm ranking system

Firms are ranked alphabetically in tiers or as highly recommended or recommended. In some jurisdictions with a tier system, we also recognise a few active firms under a tier titled 'Other Notable Firms'. The total number of firms listed varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For most jurisdictions, the rankings are split into prosecution and contentious work, whereas in smaller jurisdictions we evaluated and ranked firms for their IP practice as a whole. Some firms can be ranked for more than one practice area.

The rankings reflect our understanding of the strengths of the firms vis-à-vis their rivals; for example, tier 1 or highly recommended firms tend to have a leading reputation or expertise in the relevant practice area, long-established practitioners and a varied portfolio of work.

For the avoidance of doubt, a lower tier does not mean that a firm offers low quality service in that practice area. The firm rankings and IP stars lists are subject to change each year.

Individual practitioner ranking 

We also rank IP practitioners based on available information obtained during our research. We are very selective and therefore not all IP practitioners will be ranked.

Participation in our research or surveys does not guarantee ranking, and a practitioner can be ranked using our own independent research data only. All our IP practitioner rankings are subject to change each year.

We only have three official practitioner rankings:

  • An IP Star is an experienced senior IP practitioner in private practice, typically a partner, who has been recommended by peers and/or clients or someone that is integral to the success of their firm. After selection, IP Stars are tagged on our website according to their key practice areas, e.g. patent star and trade mark star. We also have the special ranking designation 'Top 250 Women in IP', which recognises the exceptional female practitioners in the past year. Practitioners featured in the Top 250 Women in IP publication are picked from our IP Stars list for the year.

  • A Rising Star is an up-and-coming IP practitioner below partner level who is expected to become a prominent practitioner in the future in their firm and jurisdiction.

  • A Corporate IP Star is an experienced in-house IP practitioner who has made notable contributions to their company’s success and/or to the IP community in their jurisdiction.

Noteworthy practitioners, in particular those who were previously ranked as Rising Stars or IP Stars, have the 'Notable practitioner' tag. 

Individuals that have never been ranked are marked as 'Unranked', and anyone can be added to our website with this tag.


The Managing IP Awards

The research information we receive for the IP STARS rankings is also used for the Managing IP Awards, the premier annual awards event for IP firms and professionals worldwide. This industry-leading awards programme, which was established in 2006, recognises remarkable IP-related achievements. Current and previous shortlists and winners can be found at www.managingip.com

Award categories

We have several jurisdictional and regional award categories for firms. We also have special awards to recognise impact cases and individuals.

The awards are based on the information obtained during the research period, and therefore the categories and number of awards are subject to change each year (for example, we may decide to present a special award to recognise corporate social responsibility initiatives).

Below is a brief explanation of our main awards. The research for the awards cover the various practice areas mentioned above.

  • Firm of the Year award (by jurisdiction): This award recognises firms that performed exceptionally well in a particular IP practice area or IP in general in a given jurisdiction. The nominees for this award typically have a number of notable case studies, but we can also consider other achievements or factors.

  • Firm of the Year award (regional): The regional award recognises firms that have offices and teams in more than one jurisdiction in the region. The considerations for this award are the same as the jurisdictional category.

  • Impact Case of the Year award: This award recognises IP disputes that made, or are likely to make, a big impact in a jurisdiction or region. These are often landmark court/tribunal or IP Office decisions that clarified or changed a rule or law. We can also consider rare court orders or remedies and cases that dealt with new legal arguments or an innovative approach.

  • Individual Practitioner of the Year award: This award recognises the outstanding achievements of individuals in private practice. The nominees for this award have at least one remarkable case study in which they were involved, but we may also consider other activities or factors not related to clients.

  • In-House Team of the Year award: This award recognises IP-related achievements and developments in companies. The award also takes account of the activities or work of the company’s in-house legal team in and outside their business.


Quick links
IP STARS research deadlines
IP STARS research forms and guidelines
IP STARS team contacts