Technology & Consumer Electronics Team of the Year: Western Digital

While the WTR Industry Awards recognise achievements over the past 12 months, at Western Digital the focus is already on the future, as Cynthia Lock Tregillis, senior director, brand enforcement and trademark law, explains: “A successful registration/prosecution strategy has to be aligned with the business – not only the current one, but also the developing business. Because most of the world is based on a first-to-file system, trademark departments must be proactive and work closely with stakeholders to identify and protect future brand developments. With a small team, it’s also important to work with other attorneys within the department to identify developments in the business that may require trademark support.”

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The award is presented to the Western Digital team by Rupert Ross-Macdonald of Rouse

This forward-looking approach ensures that the team can spot future flashpoints down the road. “As trademark registries become more crowded, finding marks that can be used, let alone registered, in over 100 jurisdictions will be challenging,” Tregillis predicts. “Elsewhere, the addition of the new gTLDs has added a new dimension to the company’s brand protection programme and we need to evolve our strategy as the Internet and social media develop. While third-party services are a helpful tool to monitor the Internet and social media worldwide, we need to be actively engaged to address growing threats in this space. We will need to work closely with our business teams and other lawyers to identify new threats to the company’s brand. And as always, cost will continue to be an important factor in prioritising brand protection and trademark portfolio development, particularly as the company continues to grow its footprint into more countries.”

Addressing these challenges is a team that Tregillis describes as “small, but developing”, with three trademark and brand enforcement specialists (two attorneys and a senior trademark paralegal) based at the company’s Irvine, California headquarters and San Jose, California office. They also work closely with attorneys in the corporate and litigation groups, who provide vital support on trademark and brand enforcement matters: “Other attorneys within the legal department are key to the trademark and brand enforcement group’s success.”

Those success stories have lately involved development of both the brand itself and the corporate culture, as Tregillis explains: “Over the last two years, we’ve really focused on growing our trademark portfolio to cover more emerging markets where the company now sells its products. We are also expanding the scope of our brand protection programme to be proactive in more jurisdictions, and have spent a lot of time educating internal clients in the many business groups inside and outside of marketing and PR on trademark matters. Education and training have resulted in the business engaging with the trademark group earlier and more often, before issues become problems.”

They have also raised the profile of the trademark function, Tregillis concludes: “We are really fortunate to have the support of senior management, who understand the importance of protecting the company’s brand.”

Other nominees:

Intel

Microsoft

Motorola Mobility

SanDisk Corp

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