Europe, Middle East & Africa Team of the Year: GlaxoSmithKline
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has an extensive global presence, with commercial operations in more than 150 countries and 84 manufacturing plants in 36 countries. Working from five sites in the United Kingdom, the United States and China, and comprising around 50 people, the trademark team handles a complex workload that spans the legal, political, and economic spheres.
"Brand ownership within GSK is a partnership and we are lucky to have dedicated brand teams who work with us to ensure the long-term health of our brands, and to give us insight into local requirements,” says vice president and head of global trademarks Sophie Bodet, who is based in London. “We are also closely aligned with our colleagues in other parts of legal, who are key to our success, and work closely with other parts of GSK – such as regulatory for our pharmaceuticals and vaccines trademark portfolios, or corporate security and pack security in relation to anti-counterfeiting.”
GSK’s prosecution strategy is designed through careful “planning and cooperation with our business partners”, while enforcement is always informed by the company’s wider commercial objectives. “For us, as guardians of the trademarks, it is about making sure we stay closely aligned with the short and long-term brand priorities for the whole organisation,” explains Bodet.
The challenges on this front are particularly acute in the pharmaceutical sphere, she observes: “Our products are extremely popular, and with that comes counterfeits and look-a-likes, so we spend much of our time ensuring that patients and customers receive the GSK product they know and expect. The trademark group retains a critical role within GSK in terms of fighting against counterfeits, working closely with other groups within the organisation, but also consistently training customs officials and interacting with other relevant agencies.
“Additionally, the team has been extensively busy on complex transactional work,” she continues. “On March 2 2015 GSK announced that its three-part transaction with Novartis was complete. This has been GSK’s biggest transaction since the merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham in 2000, and the trademark team was fully involved in the IP aspects of the deal. A very large number of trademarks were transferred between the parties as part of the transaction.”
When asked what sets her team apart from others in the sector, Bodet’s response is immediate: “Our spirit – we are one team and we always act with one voice, making sure we put our patients and consumers first in everything that we do. The internal recognition we receive is also a key element.”
British Sky Broadcasting