Benelux: Agencies

In the past, the Benelux agencies market has been a conventional one, with the usual suspects continuing to dominate. Recently, however, there has been some movement among practitioners and an increase in competition as traditional law firms try to claim a piece of the prosecution market. Where these used to be separate arenas, there is now more fluidity between litigators and agents in the contemporary trademark climate. Practitioners across the Benelux region are also getting to grips with the changes brought about by the implementation of the EU Trademarks Directive (2015/2436/EU). Moreover, the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP) recently appointed Ragnar Gustafsson as its new director general, who promises to innovate IP services in the trademark space.

Firms

Arnold & Siedsma

Through its 11 offices and far-reaching global network, Arnold & Siedsma handles trademark registrations all over the world. Having a strong in-house team of technical and legal experts is another feather in this experienced firm’s illustrious cap. “Practitioners at Arnold & Siedsma work quickly, offering succinct and cost-effective solutions.” At the heart of the operation is Joop Elzas. “When it comes to handling matters efficiently, at a reasonable cost and with excellent results, Elzas ticks all three boxes. A sharp, strategic thinker who really stands out in the more complex trademark cases, he is indeed one of the very best around.” Teammate Karin Becks brings years of experience to the table and is a go-to practitioner, particularly for SMEs. “Karin has provided an excellent service for a number of years. Handling everything from searches and applications to trademark disputes, her work product is consistently thorough and prompt.” “Her inclusion in the WTR 1000 would lend credence to the quality of your publication,” remarks one satisfied customer. Rounding up the triumvirate of ranked practitioners is chemistry sage Sandra Bauwens. The first port of call for multinationals, she also plays a strong hand in transactions and domain name conflicts, highlighting the vast scope of her practice.

Chiever

Chiever has the perfect blend of a team that is both big enough to handle A-list clients and small enough to offer an intimate and tailored service to each of them. Staying ahead of the curve, the outfit adopts an innovative approach handling large trademark portfolios through its digitally advanced brand management system. Wearing the captain’s armband is Volkert Teding van Berkhout – the first name on the team sheet when it comes to coordinating massive global portfolios. Fellow firm founder Bas Kist is another well-known character in the trademark scene. Renowned IP author and lecturer, Kist takes clients through the complex intricacies of trademark law with aplomb. At the junction of marketing and law is where you will find Maria-Gemma Huijnen – another standout practitioner, who excels at international work.

De Clercq & Partners

When it comes to trademark protection, Belgium-based De Clercq & Partners covers the full spectrum. Working closely with clients, the dextrous unit finds slick strategies for structuring portfolios, adopts sharp commercial acumen in licensing matters and uses its far-reaching sector knowledge to create effective solutions. The firm’s continued development of its IPRmanager tool – which is taking the client-lawyer interface to the next level, facilitating the smooth, transparent and cost-efficient management of complex trademark portfolios – is a unique selling point. The cream of the crop is engineering wizard Joost Muylle, who is at home in proceedings before the BOIP and the EUIPO. From large corporations to individual entrepreneurs, Muylle has the flexibility and technical nous to navigate clients through the most complex situations. What is more, he is not afraid to take the fight to counterfeiters.

Dennemeyer & Associates SA

Offering an integrated and seamless international service is the hallmark of Dennemeyer’s practice. With offices dotted all over the map, the firm’s ability to provide an all-encompassing trademark offering through all stages of a trademark lifecycle sets this well-oiled global machine apart from the crowd. Heading up the team, Olivier Lombardo is a seasoned professional who carves a niche for himself when it comes to the automobile, fashion and food-processing industries.

GEVERS

The appointment of CEO Gaëlle Gevers in 2017 presented a new and exciting era for GEVERS – and it has not looked back since. Active in more than 180 countries, there are few firms around that can match its geographical reach. With recent acquisitions in France, a new office in Belgium and IP desks in the United States and China, GEVERS further cements its reputation as a European and global powerhouse. Running the show, IP all-rounder Benjamin Gevers finds pragmatic solutions that are both legally and economically viable for clients. A strong leader, he also plays a key role in teaching new attorneys and employees at the group’s unique training academy.

HGF Ltd 

“HGF is a dynamic firm that continues to grow year on year. Clients love it and it is little wonder that it is among one of the biggest and most renowned IP outfits in Europe. It attracts good, ambitious people who perfect the balance between being complete professionals while also being friendly and approachable to work with.” Providing solid trademark assistance for a series of elite clients domestically and internationally, the team is led imperiously by Alexander Hagen. Thanks to his unique, commercial insight, Hagen “is an extremely talented professional with a very pragmatic approach who puts the client at the forefront of everything that he does”. Kasper Radstake is another star of the firm, described as a “highly intelligent and responsive practitioner who is thorough and practical in his provision of cost-effective solutions”. Rounding up the dream team of ranked practitioners, Pieter de Ruijter is a “knowledgeable, reliable and trustworthy” adviser, who thinks outside the box in order to push legal boundaries and find creative solutions for clients.

Kirkpatrick SA

Offering a holistic IP service, the team at Kirkpatrick knows how to get the best value out of clients’ brands. Passionate about the work that it does, this agile troupe goes above and beyond the call of duty to get the job done. By thinking against the grain, it partners clients to provide bespoke solutions with a commercial strategic lens to best protect and defend their IP rights.

Knijff Trademark Attorneys

Covering trademark issues in the music, horticulture and pharmaceutical industries, the team at Knijff Trademark Attorneys is a nimble unit with the dexterity to handle the needs of more than 2,000 clients. Refusing to work at arm’s length, Ellen Gevers and Annelies Hart get to the roots of their clients’ problems, taking them through all stages of a trademark lifecycle. A frequent speaker and respected IP teacher, Gevers is a known entity in the Dutch trademark scene and her ability to translate complex legal jargon into a language that is easily understood and accessible is highly applauded among clients and students alike. Alongside her, Hart is another formidable partner at the firm, who puts herself in clients’ shoes to offer rounded and practical solutions.

Marks & Clerk

Seasoned global IP player Marks & Clerk is the go-to firm for multinationals both in Europe and beyond. Its ability to handle client matters in a vast array of languages speaks to its strong international capabilities. In this light, domain name sage Martin Gutwillinger is a native German speaker who is not only fluent in English and French, but also speaks Luxembourgish, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. At the heart of the Luxembourg practice, Gutwillinger is a strategic practitioner who provides sharp commercial insights in developing client portfolios.

Merk-Echt BV

The young team of practitioners at Merk-Echt is efficient, dynamic and hungry for success. Offering a consistently high-quality service, it was the first Dutch agency to acquire an ISO9001:2015 quality certification. Director and owner Patrick Hoefsmit is client-centric, fast and efficient in his delivery of legal services and demonstrates a genuine passion for intellectual property that shines through in all his work.

NLO Shieldmark 

One of the largest full-service IP consultancies around, NLO Shieldmark combines in-depth technical knowledge with thorough legal insights to provide a winning formula for clients. A consulting firm, rather than a filing factory, the young and growing team provides 21st century solutions. This year has been one of transition for NLO Shieldmark, with Jeroen Cornelis becoming managing partner, Marlous Stal-Hilders becoming head of the trademark department and three new trainees joining the team. Cornelis and Stal-Hilders form an enviable tag team and bring vast experience to the table, particularly when it comes to managing international portfolios. Masja van der Galiën and Milca Graver-de Looper are also experienced heads in the firm’s ranks. Van der Galiën takes her clients through all stages of a trademark lifecycle, leaving no stone unturned, while Graver-de Looper is a partner to a broad roster of clients, which she provides with honest, business-focused solutions. A new entry to the guide this year comes in the form of Florence Tordoir, a master mediator, negotiator and strategist whose breadth of sector experience knows no bounds.

Novagraaf

Novagraaf has been a first choice for iconic global brands for over a century. Not resting on its laurels, however, this innovative team does its best to stay abreast of developments through its fresh approach to IP management services, which combines legal insights, sharp delivery of administrative procedures and efficient business acumen to take clients to the next level. The opening of a new office in Ghent, coupled with the firm’s much-celebrated web-based EasyIP portal, are indications of the outfit’s progressive nature and ambitious intent. Pulling the strings at the top, Ingrid Mennens uses her experience as a former president of the Benelux Association for Trademark and Design Law to provide unique, first-hand insights into getting the best value out of her clients’ IP portfolios. Also based in Brussels, Daphne Vervaet understands the value of intellectual property and aligns her advice with a company’s business objectives seamlessly. Keeping things ticking over in the Amsterdam office are Gerard van Hulst, Bart Schweitzer and Helma van de Langenberg. Van Hulst is a name that multinationals will want to have on speed dial, while Schweitzer is a strategic maestro for managing expansive IP portfolios. Combing in-depth legal analysis with top-drawer client services, van de Langenberg is a prudent adviser who always prioritises client needs.

Office Freylinger

“One of the biggest trademark firms in Luxembourg,” Office Freylinger uses a vast network of foreign associates to facilitate international proceedings. The team is helmed by master tactician Olivier Laidebeur, who “possesses an excellent awareness of IP trends in Luxembourg and beyond, and uses this to provide clients with in-tune and holistic strategic advice”.

Turnstone

Turning over a new leaf – or rather, a new stone – as of April 2019, Signify has gone through a major rebranding. Despite the name change, this agile unit maintains the same willingness, desire and unwavering commitment to excellence. By focusing solely on soft intellectual property, Turnstone offers a specialised and streamlined IP service, which promises high quality without breaking the bank. Running the show is the terrific trio of Merel Kamp, Peter van der Wees and Michiel Haegens. From start-ups to large internationals, Kamp has the flexibility and expertise to instruct on a plethora of trademark issues. Her recent work handling the prosecution and strategy for Climate-KIC, as well as infringement actions for iDeal, highlights the breadth of her practice. In both matters, Kamp teamed up with international IP superstar Van der Wees. A renowned IP writer and lecturer, he is a seasoned veteran when it comes to handling multinational portfolios for corporate giants. In the same vein, Haegens is another expert at coordinating global IP portfolios. Most recently, Fairphone BV has been a key beneficiary of Haegens’ talents, as he smoothly handles strategy, prosecution and enforcement issues for the mobile phone manufacturer.

VO Patents & Trademarks 

A force to be reckoned with both in the Netherlands and across Europe, VO offers an A-to-Z of IP service. “Our trademarks are handled to complete satisfaction; both old and new registrations are treated with utmost care. Not having a legal background, it is extremely helpful that the team’s communication is crystal clear and easy to understand,” enthuses one client. At the heart of the firm’s practice are dynamic duo Noëlle Wolfs and Maaike Witteman. Wolfs is a creative thinker whose vast experience in trademark matters enables her to pre-empt any potential pitfalls for clients. She really flexes her muscles in developing worldwide filing strategies, with both MBrands BV and the Dutch Ophthalmic Research Center benefiting from her astute tactical thinking. Alongside her is new entry to the guide Snoeck. Described as “a sharp strategic thinker and an excellent negotiator”, “when giving advice, she is always very thorough in explaining all the available options and makes valuable recommendations using her extensive experience and business acumen”. “Showing a deep understanding of her clients’ business needs, Snoeck offers cost-effective solutions and is a true professional.”

Other recommended experts

Brand protection sage Eric Bakker brings over 30 years of experience to the table, while his ability to communicate effectively and clearly to myriad companies makes the co-founder of Bakker & Verkuijl an attractive choice for brand owners. Loved by her clients, EQUIPP’s Arlette Molenaar “is one of the best trademark attorneys in the Netherlands”. “She knows her clients’ portfolios inside out and manages them in the most cost-efficient ways. Always fast, pragmatic and to the point, Arlette masters dealing with complex cancellation and opposition proceedings and explains concepts in a simple but effective way.” Mélanie Pellissard is a fresh face for the guide this year. Recognised as “a reactive practitioner” at Lecomte & Partners, she “speaks the same language as her clients and works closely with them to ensure their aims and overarching objectives are met”. Plying his trade at ABCOR BV, Theo-Willem van Leeuwen is a name for the address book of any corporate multinational seeking IP protection. More than a one-trick pony, Van Leeuwen also carves a niche for himself in online branding and cyberspace issues.

Individuals

  • Eric Bakker - Bakker & Verkuijl BV
  • Sandra Bauwens - Arnold & Siedsma
  • Karin Becks - Arnold & Siedsma
  • Jeroen Cornelis - NLO Shieldmark
  • Pieter de Ruijter - HGF Ltd
  • Joop Elzas - Arnold + Siedsma
  • Benjamin Gevers - GEVERS
  • Ellen Gevers - Knijff Trademark Attorneys
  • Milca Graver-de Looper - NLO Shieldmark
  • Martin Gutwillinger - Marks & Clerk
  • Michiel Haegens - Turnstone
  • Alexander Hagen - HGF Ltd
  • Annelies M Hart - Knijff Trademark Attorneys
  • Patrick Hoefsmit - Merk-Echt BV
  • Maria-Gemma Huijnen - Chiever
  • Merel Kamp - Turnstone
  • Bas Kist - Chiever
  • Olivier Laidebeur - Office Freylinger
  • Olivier Lombardo - Dennemeyer & Associates SA
  • Ingrid Mennens - Novagraaf
  • Arlette Molenaar - EQUIPP Intellectual Property Protection
  • Joost Muylle - De Clercq & Partners
  • Mélanie Pellissard - Lecomte & Partners Sàrl
  • Kasper Radstake - HGF Ltd
  • Bart Schweitzer - Novagraaf
  • Marlous Stal-Hilders - NLO Shieldmark
  • Volkert J Teding van Berkhout - Chiever
  • Florence Tordoir - NLO Shieldmark
  • Helma Van De Langenberg - Novagraaf
  • Masja van der Galiën - NLO Shieldmark
  • Peter van der Wees - Turnstone
  • Gerard van Hulst - Novagraaf
  • Theo-Willem van Leeuwen - ABCOR BV
  • Daphne Vervaet - Novagraaf
  • Maaike Witteman - VO Patents & Trademarks 
  • Noëlle Wolfs - VO Patents & Trademarks