IP STARS is an exclusive annual publication based on a six-month research project, starting from September each year. The research covers a variety of IP practice areas and more than 70 jurisdictions. Our rankings are based on a weighted review of information submitted by firms, publicly available information, and market feedback. 

The most important way to participate in our research is to complete and submit our research forms page (click here). There is no cost or fee to pay to participate in our research. Participation in our research does not guarantee ranking; we do not rank all firms and individuals offering IP services.

Below we explain our methodology, practice areas, rankings, and other important information you need to know about our research. Please follow our research updates here.


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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.

Practice areas covered

Please note that the practice areas listed below are not available in all jurisdictions. The practice areas we research are subject to change each year, i.e. we may decide to discontinue or add a practice area. Where we do not currently have a rankings table for a practice area, we will use the data provided for the Managing IP Awards programme.

  • Prosecution (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 (patent and trade mark): We consider all disputes and enforcement/infringement 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 brand-related matters such as unfair competition disputes and anti-counterfeiting work while for the patent contentious ranking we can also consider patent-related disputes such as supplementary protection certificate (SPC) litigation. 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 & related rights: This evaluates all copyright and related rights work, e.g. database right, performers' right and broadcasting right. The non-contentious part covers transactional and general advisory work. We consider all relevant sectors, including publishing, entertainment and software. Where relevant, we will consider design work such as unregistered design right.

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

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

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

  • IP transactions: We focus on work or advice concerning the sale or licensing of IP rights. We can also consider other work that involve IP such as research collaboration and technology transfer. 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 rights. All IP-related transactions, regardless of monetary value, are considered.

  • IP tax advice: This is about tax advice or work concerning intellectual property rights. We are particularly interested in IP-related tax work or advice on transfer pricing compliance, technology transfer, and tax incentives such as IP/Patent Box and R&D credits.

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

  • Domain name disputes: We consider all domain name work, including domain name disputes managed by national and international organisations.
  • Intellectual property: This table considers all the IP-related work done by a firm.


Firm ranking

The 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 a very experienced senior IP practitioner in private practice 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. 

  • A Rising Star is an up-and-coming IP practitioner who is expected to become a prominent practitioner in the future in their firm and jurisdiction. Please read more about this ranking here.

  • 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. Please read more about this ranking here.

Other recognitions

Top 250 Women in IP: This special designation is for exceptional female IP practitioners. Practitioners featured in the Managing IP's Top 250 Women in IP publication are picked from our general IP Stars list for the year. Learn more here.

Notable practitioner: This new tag (introduced in October 2020) is used to recognise individuals who play either an active or a supportive role in their firms. Individuals with this tag include previously-ranked individuals, partners and former partners. 

Please note: A practitioner can be added to our website tagged as 'Unranked' or 'Notable practitioner' at any time in the year.


The Managing IP Awards

We also use the data submitted for the IP STARS rankings to conduct the research for the Managing IP (MIP) Awards programme. The IP STARS rankings and the MIP Awards programme are two separate research projects and one does not necessarily influence the other. For example, any firm, regardless of its ranking, can win the MIP award.

The MIP Awards programme is 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 (jurisdiction): This award recognises firms that performed exceptionally well in a particular practice area, or IP as a whole, 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 timeline
IP STARS research forms and guidelines
IP STARS team contacts