HSF denies conflict of interest

By Leanne Mezrani|12 June 2015
mobile phone telstra

Herbert Smith Freehills has rejected reports of a conflict of interest in a major patent infringement dispute involving one of its affiliate firms.

HSF told Lawyers Weekly that “there is no conflict” in a Federal Court case between the global firm’s client, Telstra, and British company Upaid Systems, which is being represented by Freehills Patent Attorneys (FPA).

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Last week (9 June), a Business Insider article claimed Upaid had made an application to the Federal Court seeking to restrain HSF from acting against the interests of the company.

FPA was established in 2012 when HSF (then Freehills) split off its intellectual property and patents practice ahead of its merger with Herbert Smith.

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The boutique firm has remained an affiliate of HSF, similar to specialist tax advisory firm Greenwoods & Freehills.

While FPA has its own management team, it shares the same premises as HSF at 101 Collins Street in Melbourne and 161 Castlereagh Street in Sydney.

A joint statement issued by HSF and FPA in 2012 indicated both firms would work closely following the merger. However, HSF would not comment at the time on whether there were, or would be, any referral arrangements, exclusivity arrangements or plans for shared resources.

Speculation over an alleged conflict of interest is the latest development in Upaid’s long-running lawsuit against Telstra, which claims the telco’s mobile eCommerce platform infringes Upaid patents related to technology that allows users to make purchases with mobile phones while overseas.

HSF has only recently taken on the matter. King & Wood Mallesons was previously acting for Telstra, filing court documents on behalf of the telco as late as May.

HSF denies conflict of interest
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