Industry focus: IT and telecoms in Belgium

Allen & Overy LLP

The TMT group at Allen & Overy LLP acts for an impressive client roster including Google, Amazon and Chinese technology company Baidu. The group has the capacity to handle a range of IP, corporate, transactional, regulatory matters and transformation projects. It is instructed to handle trade mark enforcement matters for Intel and also assists clients, including CSC, on IT and outsourcing projects. Antwerp-based Filip Van Elsen heads the global TMT practice and is supported in Brussels by Geert Glas, who is particularly known for contentious matters, and recently promoted partner Peter Van Dyck, who heads the data protection practice.

Bird & Bird

Bird & Bird's TMT practice is able to handle a range of projects for IT and telecoms sector clients. It is instructed by Proximus on several regulatory, competition law and corporate matters and recently assisted the company's subsidiary Telindus on the acquisition of Ion-IP. In another work highlight, the department is instructed by Sap on data protection and IT considerations relating to its enterprise threat detection product. A team including Benoit Van Asbroeck and Julien Debussche forms part of a consortium of academics and industry experts that assists the European Commission with research projects including in relation to the use of big data. Hein Hobbelen — who splits his time between Brussels and The Hague —jointly heads the practice alongside Van Asbroeck and is a key name to note for competition law. The team's regulatory expertise was bolstered by the arrival of senior public affairs manager Francine Cunningham from the US Mission to the European Union.

DLA Piper

The intellectual property and technology team at DLA Piper has significant experience handling commercial, corporate and regulatory issues, with clients including Vodafone, Cognizant and Tesla. The group is also instructed by SNCB and bpost on the clients' digital transformation projects, including handling the negotiation of significant outsourcing agreements. Practice head Kristof De Vulder is assisting EDF Luminus with its new data centre agreement with a new service provider. In another work highlight, a team, led by Patrick Van Eecke, is advising Adobe on regulatory issues relating to electronic signatures. Ivanka Zdravkova moved to an in-house role.

Stibbe

The TMT and IP departments at Stibbe handle a range of contentious and strategic matters in the IT and telecoms sector, and counts Microsoft-Skype, Lycamobile, Verizon and Google among its clients. A team, led by practice head Erik Valgaeren, is representing Anheuser-Busch InBev in a dispute relating to its data centre services outsourcing agreement with CapGemini. The team is regularly instructed in public sector IT projects and assisted Astrid with its procurement strategy for the renewal of the maintenance contract for its core telecoms and dispatching network. Hans Van Bavel is a name to note for cybercrime and compliance matters. Laurens Dauwe is now with Osborne Clarke.

ALTIUS

The information communications technology team at ALTIUS acts for a client roster that ranges from well-known global players to spin-offs and start-ups. The department is regularly instructed on corporate transactions, compliance and e-commerce projects. Practice head Gerrit Vandendriessche attracts praise for his 'to the point, accurate and no-nonsense' approach and has significant experience in both contentious and non-contentious matters. Senior associate Alexander Schillebeeckx rejoined the group from VAN INNIS & DELARUE. Other changes to the team include the promotion of Geoffroy Regout to managing associate.

CMS

WIth 'expertise that covers a wide range of legal areas, including competition, EU regulatory and privacy', CMS' IT and telecoms team is made up of 'excellent' and 'very dedicated' lawyers offering 'top-notch advice'. 'Exceptional lawyer' Dirk Van Liedekerke, who has particular experience in EU and Belgian competition and telecoms law, leads a team that defends Facebook before the Belgian courts against allegations of infringements of EU and national rules on privacy protection through the use of cookies and pixels. The department also assisted Sagi Export with its successful bid for a contract with the Belgian Ministry of Justice for the provision of in-prison telephony and other electronic communications services. Tom De Cordier heads the practice alongside Van Liedekerke and is a key name to note, particularly for data privacy matters.

Fieldfisher

Fieldfisher leverages its cross-departmental team in handling a range of matters, including outsourcing and procurement projects, commercial and transactional advice, regulatory compliance assistance and disputes in the TMT sector. The group advised Euroclear on IT matters, including negotiating licensing and outsourcing contracts. In another work highlight, the practice acted for Avaya on its dual binding corporate rules applications for both controller and processor status. It was also instructed to handle GDPR compliance projects for several clients including AGC Glass Europe. Tim Van Canneyt heads the technology, outsourcing and privacy department alongside Olivier Proust.

Linklaters

Linklaters' TMT team is highlighted for its experience in handling IT procurement projects for clients including BNP Paribas Asset Management and Belfius Bank. It was instructed to handle the IT aspects of several significant transactions such as the merger of Bancontact Company and Payconiq Belgium, as well as Belgian Post Group's acquisition of Radial Holdings and Radial III GP. The group, headed by Tanguy Van Overstraeten, is also noted for its data protection and privacy capabilities. Counsel Guillaume Couneson is another key name to note.

time.lex

Technology, IP, media, e-business and entertainment-focused firm time.lex has a 'unique' approach, provides 'quick and pragmatic' advice, is 'capable of dealing with highly complex IT and IP matters' and is 'highly recommended for both national and international' projects. The group is regularly instructed by the Belgian government, particularly the Belgian Federal Ministry of Policy and Support to advise on various IT and data protection matters. Edwin Jacobs and counsel Stefan Van Camp are 'great to work with'; the duo acted for the Belgian Ministry of Telecom in court proceedings relating to telecom services that warn drivers about speed limit controls. A team, led by Frederic Debusseré, 'who stands out for his pragmatic and thorough advice', represented the Belgian Data Protection Authority in proceedings against Facebook regarding its use of social plug-ins, cookies and screen pixels to track users. Hans Graux and Jos Dumortier is another key name to note.

ASTREA

The IT and media group at ASTREA attracts praise for its 'outstanding service' and 'depth of knowledge and responsiveness'. 'Very knowledgeable' practice head Steven De Schrijver is 'extremely client oriented' and is representing Skype Communications in high-profile litigation now proceeding to the Supreme Court. Other clients include Microsoft and ISS Facility Services.

Cresco Advocaten

The ICT practice at Cresco Advocaten is highlighted particularly for its representation of start-ups and scale-ups. Newtec is a key client, for which the department has assisted with technology agreements, including for the sale of its main satellite navigation system. The group also has strength in contentious matters and represented B-hive.eu in the negotiation and settlement of a trade mark and trade name dispute. Managing partner David Dessers advised the same client on the set-up of strategic and commercial fintech partnerships between major Belgian and international financial institutions and technology companies. Frédérique Joos left the practice to establish technology and innovation focused firm Skeel.

Crowell & Moring

Crowell & Moring's TMT practice is highlighted for its regulatory advice and telecoms sector expertise. Thomas De Meese is representing Telenet, alongside counsel Karl Stas, who was a new arrival from Jones Day, in an appeal of the Belgian regulators' decision relating to open access to the client's cables. The group also counts Liberty Global and Melita among its clients. Flip Petillion left to establish boutique firm Petillion. Emmelie Wijckmans is now with contrast.

Jones Day

Jones Day has 'deep knowledge of the telecom industry and regulatory framework' with its cross-departmental team attracting praise for its 'proactive assistance'. The group represented BT, Colt, and Verizon in three separate damage claims brought by Belgacom Mobile pertaining to abuse of dominance allegations. In another recent work highlight, a team acted for Fortino Capital Partners on its €2.2m investment in Dobco Medical Systems. The department also assists Broadband Belgium and Broadband Portugal with regulatory advice. Alexandre Verheyden is 'highly recommended for regulation and competition in the field of telecoms' and heads the group alongside M&A partner Thomas De Muynck and recently promoted partner Jörg Hladjk, who specialises in cybersecurity, privacy and data protection.

Loyens & Loeff

The IT and telecom sector-focused practice at Loyens & Loeff is frequently engaged to handle both contentious and non-contentious matters for its impressive client roster, which includes Orange and Cognizant. Practice head Yves Van Couter and senior associate Stéphanie De Smedt are representating Ik.be in a domain name dispute. The team also acted for EccoPrint in litigation relating to the termination of a custom software development agreement.

Lydian

Bastiaan Bruyndonckx heads the information and communication technology group at Lydian, which acts for technology companies and corporates in other sectors on a variety of IT-related matters. It assisted Airspan Spectrum Holdings with obtaining a 4G spectrum licence in Belgium through the acquisition of a Voyacom from Datang Telecom. The group is also advising Orange on several matters, including on its substantial second generation IT outsourcing project. Getronics, Osudio and Thales are among its new clients.

Petillion

The 'strategic, commercial and very quick' team Petillion combines 'all the flexibility of a small firm with very experienced attorneys' with wide-ranging knowledge spanning the IT and telecoms sectors. The group is praised for being 'comfortable working at the place where IP and digital meet, with a great understanding of issues from GDPR to online anti-counterfeiting' and acts for clients including Vistaprint, Enterprise Holdings and World Intellectual Property Organization. Founder Flip Petillion is 'a reassuringly calm expert and an excellent listener'. Senior associate Jan Janssen is another key name to note, particularly for disputes.

Verhaegen Walravens

Verhaegen Walravens' 'responsive and flexible' technology and communications group is known particularly for its technology contracts practice and is 'proactive in giving advice on issues that clients' did not anticipate'. The group also has significant experience in representing telecoms sector clients, as well as in providing data protection advice.  Emmanuel Szafran, 'who stands out for his response times, business acumen and industry knowledge', heads up the team, which includes Florian De Rouck, who is recommended for GDPR compliance matters.

Ambos NBGO Advocaten

Ambos NBGO Advocaten's IP and IT practice, led by Bart Vandereeckt, regularly acts for a full range of technology sector clients from multinational companies and start-ups. It assists pharmaceutical sector communications marketing firm Bingli with IP and IT issues, including licensing and data protection considerations. The team is also instructed in disputes.

Baker McKenzie CVBA/SCRL

The TMT practice at Baker McKenzie CVBA/SCRL has expertise in IP, IT, e-commerce and data protection matters. Key names to note include practice head Daniel Fesler and Elisabeth Dehareng.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton's IT and telecoms sector-focused group is instructed in high-profile competition and antitrust law matters. It is representing Google in investigations by the EU Commission. The department's impressive client roster includes IBM, LG Display, Hutchison and Deutsche Telekom.

Covington & Burling LLP

Covington & Burling LLP is also ranked.

KOAN Law Firm

KOAN Law Firm has experience acting for IT and telecoms sector clients in corporate, commercial and IP matters. Agnès Maqua and Christine De Keersmaeker jointly head the TMT practice, which has the capabilities to handle contentious and non-contentious matters. Jan Decorte joined EY Law.

Monard Law

The information and communication technology practice at Monard Law handles a range of commercial and contentious matters. Associate partner Ben Hermans advised hospital AZ Jan Palfijn on the negotiating and drafting of a license agreement for the roll-out of a new electronic patient record system. Kristof Zadora is leading a team assisting ACA IT-Solutions with a range of IT, data protection and intellectual property issues.