Financial & Professional Services Team of the Year: MasterCard

MasterCard is one of the world’s most ubiquitous brands – the familiar logo is imprinted on more than 1 billion cards, accepted in 30 million-plus locations across the globe. According to head of IP Colm Dobbyn, “each of our three primary brands – MasterCard, Maestro and Cirrus – is registered in every country around the world”. His team is thus tasked with the herculean task of managing a portfolio some 15,000 marks strong in more than 200 countries. It operates from within MasterCard’s legal department, which in turn is part of the company’s law and franchise integrity group.

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Cathy Lueders, Crystal Howard, Colm Dobbyn, Veronica Grassi (all MasterCard) with Gary McIlraith (Netnames)

Even faced with what one nominator highlighted as “an enormous workload and a wide range of cutting-edge issues”, Dobbyn “runs a tight ship” – not least thanks to his “proactive yet pragmatic approach in all cases”. This mindset has become a hallmark of the team, which must continually adapt its strategies to ensure that prosecution and enforcement efforts remain effective in an increasingly complex environment. As Dobbyn notes, the team “has had to broaden our scope of protection” to reflect the challenges posed by new advancements such as the rise of Bitcoin and other unregulated cryptocurrencies.

The team’s efforts to combat infringements in the online space have also garnered it warm plaudits; the company works in close partnership with other stakeholders in the payment processing industry to prevent payments from reaching those operating illegally. “We have taken a leadership role in this, saying that we don’t want our brand to be associated with counterfeits,” says Dobbyn. “We want our brand to be trusted and therefore certainly do not want to have it associated with illegal or other questionable activities.” Crucially, these activities also benefit other brands that are prone to online abuse; nominators were keen to highlight the team’s “dedication to helping other IP owners to protect their rights”.

In all of these endeavours, both the team and Dobbyn himself draw praise as “a pleasure to work with”. “I work with many in-house counsel of large US and European corporations and he is, without a doubt, one of the most knowledgeable and experienced counsel I have worked with,” concluded one nominator. “Apart from his obvious IP expertise and professionalism, he is also one of the nicest clients I have had.”

Other nominees:

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria

BDO Unibank

Prudential Financial

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