Benelux: Agencies

The dividing line between agencies and law firms in Benelux has blurred somewhat in recent years. Many firms have broken the traditional mould and taken up prosecution work that was previously the exclusive preserve of specialist agencies; while some agencies have begun to employ attorneys at law and extended their offerings to encompass litigation. However, the map has not been completely redrawn – most agencies continue to focus on registration, strategy and portfolio management, and maintain close collaborative relationships with law firms. Top-class, high-volume prosecution work involves intricate systems and fine-tuned processes which come naturally to established agencies, and which law firms struggle to replicate. As such, this specialist table of Benelux agencies remains the best guide to the elite non-contentious players in this jurisdiction.

Firms

H
Arnold + Siedsma
Chiever BV
Dennemeyer & Associates SA
GEVERS
Kirkpatrick SA
Knijff Trademark Attorneys
Novagraaf
Office Freylinger
Arnold + Siedsma
One of the few agencies to employ both trademark attorneys and lawyers, Arnold + Siedsma impresses with its broad-ranging brand protection offering. A popular choice among household-name multinationals seeking polished prosecution, the outfit is also increasingly celebrated for its work in the licensing space. It continues to distinguish itself advising on filing strategy for heavy-hitters such as Red Bull; it also recently played a major role in the settlement of a dispute for client BDO. Equally impressive is its record in oppositions before the patent office on behalf of patrons such as STL Holding, Bausch + Lomb and The Impulse Factory. As the first Dutch IP practice to be awarded ISO 9001 certification, it can execute on the most delicate and complex instructions with finesse. The poised Joop Elzas is the cornerstone of the practice.
Chiever BV
Chiever has cemented its place among the Benelux trademark agency elite since its 2011 inception. The Netherlands-based outfit is divided into six nimble practice groups which provide flawless prosecution services, mainly for Dutch multinationals. “Chiever does excellent work, quickly and with friendly service. Working for large firms, it focuses on volume and efficiency; and by steering clear of litigation, it has been very successful in its specialism.” The agency is spearheaded by two seasoned partners, each with over a quarter-century’s experience. “Pleasant, knowledgeable and results orientated”, Alice Slabbaert maintains close contact with clients, who appreciate her straightforward, business-focused approach. Colleague Bas Kist “knows exactly what he is doing and is one of the most respected trademark agents in the Netherlands. He is an extremely creative thinker and reflects carefully on each case to ensure success for clients. He is deeply interested in trademark law and goes much further than most agents”.
Dennemeyer & Associates SA

Some 50 years after its establishment, Dennemeyer & Associates has grown to become one of the largest, most cutting-edge trademark agencies in Luxembourg. Offering the full menu of prosecution services, it deploys the latest software and systems to provide a reliable, user-friendly package. It also goes beyond the traditional purview of IP agencies, employing trademark lawyers to tackle disputes, arbitration and transactional mandates with acute proficiency. A string of offices across Europe and beyond ensures it makes light work of complex cross-border briefs. Trademark department head Olivier Lombardo knows the case law back to front; keen insight into the media industry makes him an attractive option for brand owners in the field.

GEVERS
With outposts in Belgium, Switzerland and France, GEVERS offers seamless pan-Europe brand management. The geographical scope of its offering is broadened further by the exemplary work of its China desk practitioners, who boast encyclopaedic knowledge of the law in the Middle Kingdom and a particular flair for anti-counterfeiting programmes. The level-headed and assured Benjamin Gevers is a leading trademark and design attorney, domain name expert and anti-counterfeiting hawk who has been with the agency since 2000.
Kirkpatrick SA
Foreign associates marvel at the output of Belgium’s oldest IP agency: “It does an excellent job for its clients. It has great people who are very client focused and deliver a top-notch service at reasonable cost.” It sees brand protection not only as a means of defending against potential infringers, but also as an asset to be used creatively and for maximum commercial benefit. Its professionals routinely go the extra mile, partnering closely with patrons and acting as key aides to decision making. A fluent Dutch, French, German, English and Italian speaker, Patricia Van Overbeke has a loyal following drawn from all around the world; a nuanced understanding of copyrights and licensing informs her astute advice.
Knijff Trademark Attorneys
One of the largest and highest-profile agencies in Benelux, Knijff is praised by competitors for its efficiency, leverage talent. Attracting and retaining many of the most gifted trademark attorneys in the region, it also deploys the most advanced specialist IT support systems to ensure that its services remain cutting edge. Crystal-clear, realistic and distilled from years of experience, the counsel of Annelies Hart is sought by many premier Dutch enterprises seeking to protect their crown-jewel brands worldwide. WTR 1000 debutant Ellen Gevers comes highly recommended by lawyers with whom she has worked, impressed by her incisive guidance and her passion for brands. The Luxembourg branch of UK outfit Marks & Clerk provides gilt-edged registration, opposition, strategy and pre-litigation services. As part of the firm’s 17-point constellation of offices around the globe – including bureaux in some of the world’s commercial hotspots – it is a prime destination for countless household names. At the same time, it has carved out a niche protecting the brands of Luxembourgish small and medium-sized enterprises across a range of industries. With 17 years’ practice under his belt, lynchpin Martin Gutwillinger excels at far-sighted IP planning, especially for clients that have not previously sought legal protection for their brands. A giant among the Benelux agencies, Dutch outfit NLO Shieldmark deftly manages many of the weightiest trademark portfolios in the region. It has 15 erudite attorneys on hand who operate in four teams, each dealing with a different type of client in order to guarantee highly specialised advice. It forms rock-solid relationships with patrons, working in harmony to guide them through the prosecution maze. As well as a savvy prosecution adviser, managing partner Marlous Stal-Hilders is a smooth negotiator when transactions are on the table. “An excellent trademark attorney who is hands on and really knows clients’ needs”, all-rounder Jeroen Cornelis has extensive experience of trademark law in numerous jurisdictions worldwide, which resonates with a slew of international companies, including many from China and South Korea. With a pristine track record in the field stretching back more than 30 years, Milca Graver-de Looper is one of the team’s biggest assets. Meticulous in searches and registration, she is also an insightful and diplomatic mediator.
Novagraaf
One of the most prolific filers in Benelux, Novagraaf routinely secures watertight protection for numerous mega-brands. With its roots in the Netherlands and Belgium, the internationally minded ensemble also has outposts in France, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Its facility for the consultancy aspects of prosecution is reflected in “clear strategic thinking in the global market” and advice that dovetails neatly with clients’ broader business plans. Dynamic Alexander Hagen devises highly creative trademark strategies and razor-sharp litigation tactics; licensing and financial IP planning are also fortes. “An excellent attorney who takes a big-picture view of cases and who can be totally relied on”, Pieter de Ruijter adroitly manages the weightiest portfolios for global heavy hitters. Food and beverages and fashion are strong suits for sage Helma van de Langenberg, whose rigorous critical thinking makes her another stand-out figure. Managing the trademark team in Belgium is Ingrid Mennens, “a great personality who operates with care and produces high-quality work”. She shines on global prosecution campaigns and is relentless in her pursuit of counterfeiters. “An outstanding, hands-on attorney who is always on the ball”, WTR 1000 newcomer Kasper Radstake is a genius at building ironclad portfolios.
Office Freylinger
A Luxembourg firm with an illustrious international reputation, Office Freylinger is a force to be reckoned with in Benelux brand protection and management. Marshalling the trademark team is adept portfolio manager Olivier Laidebeur, whose commercial acumen was honed during stints in-house at a number of marquee brands. All-round trademark connoisseur Laidebeur frequently appears in oppositions before the Benelux Office of Intellectual Property, the EU Intellectual Property Office and the World Intellectual Property Organisation, and is a safe pair of hands for all brand protection work outside the courts. Gold-plated agency VO Patents & Trademarks is a “go-to Benelux firm for prosecution, oppositions and infringement matters. It provides an excellent service which gets the right results, and its professionals anticipate problems and provide proactive advice and recommendations”. One foreign associate hails the “level of trust that can be placed in VO’s team. There is an incredible ease of communication when working with them; it’s almost like cooperating with colleagues from your own firm. Its professionals work well together, too – almost as though they have a unified brain”. Sterling prosecution and portfolio management are underpinned by sophisticated back-office systems. Transcending the traditional limitations of trademark agencies, VO also employs attorneys at law who provide vigorous enforcement. It recently successfully represented software giant McAfee in preliminary proceedings and at the Dutch Court of Appeal. “One of the very best trademark attorneys around today”, leading light Noëlle Wolfs knows how to squeeze every last drop of commercial value from brand rights.

Individuals

Jeroen Cornelis - NLO Shieldmark
Pieter de Ruijter - Novagraaf
Joop Elzas - Arnold + Siedsma
Benjamin Gevers - GEVERS
Ellen Gevers - Knijff Trademark Attorneys
Milca Graver-de Looper - NLO Shieldmark
Martin Gutwillinger - Marks & Clerk
Michiel Haegens - Signify
Alexander Hagen - Novagraaf
Annelies M Hart - Knijff Trademark Attorneys
Bas Kist - Chiever BV
Olivier Laidebeur - Office Freylinger
Olivier Lombardo - Dennemeyer & Associates SA
Ingrid Mennens - Novagraaf
Kasper Radstake - Novagraaf
Alice Slabbaert - Chiever BV
Marlous Stal-Hilders - NLO Shieldmark
Helma van de Langenberg - Novagraaf
Peter van der Wees - Signify
Patricia Van Overbeke - Kirkpatrick SA
Noëlle Wolfs - VO Patents & Trademarks
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Issue 70