Benelux: Agencies

In June 2018 amendments to the Benelux Convention on Intellectual Property – adopted in 2014 – entered into force. These introduced a number of significant changes; most notably, it centralised appeals against decisions of the Benelux Office of Intellectual Property (BOIP) with the Benelux Court of Justice – previously these had to be filed in appeal courts in Brussels, The Hague or Luxembourg; it also made it possible to file invalidity and revocation actions at the BOIP; and it made well-known status an additional opposition ground. More changes are anticipated before January 2019 as a result of the implementation of the EU Trademark Directive.

Firms

Arnold & Siedsma

ISO 9001-certified Arnold & Siedsma upholds the highest standards in terms of customer service, efficiency and quality. Key figures on the six-strong and extremely impressive team include experienced manager Joop Elzas and cross-border strategy guru Sandra Bauwens, both of whom garner effusive feedback from the market: “Joop is a trusted adviser who provides clear and concise guidance on trademark prosecution. He is particularly skilled at addressing the interplay between national and EU rights. On clearance through to enforcement he comes up with no-nonsense strategies, which always create immense value for his clients. He is super creative and excels at problem solving.” “Sandra has an excellent reputation as an incredibly prompt, detail-oriented and thorough attorney.”

Chiever

“The Chiever group is made up of top-rate practitioners who meld trademark expertise with strong strategic and business acumen. They manage large portfolios with elegance.” “They clearly make clients the top priority and provide the same high-calibre service to all. When faced with out-of-the-ordinary trademark issues the team works tirelessly to find solutions.” The set’s advanced digital brand management system gives clients easy access to their files and increases efficiency and transparency; for in-house trademark counsel with limited budgets who must justify their brand protection spend to the C-suite, this is a major benefit. Bas Kist, Alice Slabbaert, Maria-Gemma Huijnen and Volkert Teding van Berkhout “do excellent work quickly and cost-efficiently. They don’t just think about registering a mark but look to drive brand value by deploying smart strategies.” Kist has done some particularly interesting things for various clients using cultural heritage as trademarks.

De Clercq & Partners

Belgian outfit De Clercq & Partners astutely oversees trademark protection efforts not just in Benelux but across the globe through its well-selected network of foreign correspondents. When it comes to the effective management of sprawling and diverse portfolios, the ensemble’s IPRmanager online user interface makes a real difference; the unique platform enables clients to manage their rights directly or prioritise certain instructions to the team while benefiting from intelligent automation and reduced costs. One of the group’s finest trademark experts is Joost Muylle, a hands-on and collaborative partner who neatly tailors his advice to each and every client. He is a master at consolidating large portfolios – something that Puratos and many other international patrons know well.

Dennemeyer & Associates SA 

Dennemeyer is a unique organisation; it is an international law firm, IP management solutions and service provider and consultancy outfit all rolled into one. Leveraging its global spread of offices, it can provide the appropriate support and put in place the right safeguards for clients wherever their businesses grow. The head of trademarks in Luxembourg is Olivier Lombardo, a commercial and international thinker who practices dexterously across the contentious/non-contentious divide.

GEVERS

Here are some impressive statistics: GEVERS has nine offices in Europe, 300 IP professionals, 6000 active clients and manages over 200,000 rights. Clearly it has the resources and experience to handle anything to do with the protection and enforcement of trademarks. Brussels-based Benjamin Gevers makes judicious use of his firm’s international support package to cover a lot of ground for his clients. The breadth of his expertise amplifies this; he is a proficient portfolio manager and auditor who can sew up an IP contract and take counterfeiters down.

HGF Ltd 

HGF is one of the biggest and best European IP firms; 160 specialists across 16 offices collaborate seamlessly to render a tight one-stop service to brand owners of all stripes. It built up significant momentum in 2017 – bringing on board Alexander Hagen, Kasper Radstake and Pieter de Ruijter to man a new Amsterdam office was a particularly smart move – and carried this over to 2018 during which it opened new sites in Nottingham, England and Westport, Ireland. For Benelux clients – and international clients looking for protection there – Hagen, Radstake and de Ruijter perform brilliantly. They shine on strategic portfolio management and rationalisation, as well as oppositions and infringements.

Kirkpatrick SA

Passionate about innovation, whether technical in nature or around distinctive signs, Kirkpatrick cares about clients and the success of their brands and business. Obtaining trademark registrations and then optimising the portfolios of which they become a part is what the team does best, but it is also well-equipped to calm any infringement headache. Trademark and design attorney, as well as legal adviser, polyglot Patricia Van Overbeke is an abundant source of insight on trademark strategy.

Knijff Trademark Attorneys

Netherlands outfit Knijff is fully focused on trademarks; it does not have a patent practice to distract its attention from the needs of brand owners and the team gives patrons 110%. More of an integral partner than just an external representative, the ensemble administers tailored solutions – whatever the problem or concern – that go right to the heart of clients’ businesses. Outstanding results time and again confer stardom on Annelies Hart and Ellen Gevers. Hart rigorously manages and maintains the international portfolios of famous Dutch companies; Gevers regularly takes to the podium as a speaker on IP topics and, through frontline engagement with several international IP associations, has come to be known as a Benelux thought leader.

Marks & Clerk

Illustrious IP outfit Marks & Clerk puts a global platform at the disposal of clients. The firm is distinguished among its competitors in Benelux by its robust presence in Asia. The cosmopolitan and long-established team in Luxembourg handles prosecution expediently for patrons in all sectors while proving to be accomplished on brand strategy and value maximisation. Martin Gutwillinger designs brand protection programmes capable of weathering the toughest storms; domain name disputes and advisory work relating to infringements are his other fortes.

Merk-Echt BV

Merk-Echt regularly appears near the top of the filing statistics table for Benelux. Prolific it may be but, as foreign associates attest, it is “very serious about quality and wonderful to work with”. “It makes each client feel like they are the most important client.” The team takes its mark from Patrick Hoefsmit, a deep thinker who understands the business of brands and what makes for an efficient service.

NLO Shieldmark 

NLO has consistently been “the go-to for IP prosecution”. Famous for its innovative thinking, efficiency, responsiveness, approachability and great teamwork, NLO is the top EU trademark filer among Dutch firms. Forming a constellation of stars are Marlous Stal-Hilders, Masja van der Galiën and Milca Graver-de Looper, each of whom garners eager praise from the market. Dynamic all-rounder Stal-Hilders is “an outstanding attorney who manages portfolios effectively while keeping costs to a minimum”. “Extremely diligent, Masja resolves matters at the snap of a finger while maintaining gold-level quality. She is always on the ball and accomplishes an astounding number of tasks during any given day.” “Milca understands her clients and is good at setting priorities. When faced with a problem she thinks outside the box and is willing go the extra mile to get jobs done the right way. She is also a great choice for negotiations – she keeps a cool head which enables her to amicably settle matters.” Jeroen Cornelis is another dignitary of the practice. He has a strategic focus on Asia and regularly travels to the continent as part of giving a personal service to his Chinese, Japanese and South Korean clients.

Novagraaf

Storied outfit Novagraaf – which is 130 years old in 2019 – is one of Europe’s top IP firms, whether measured by the number of marks it is responsible for, by the breadth of its brands service, by the strength of its team or by the quality of its work. Promoted to managing director in the Netherlands – the epicentre of the Novagraaf group’s operations – in March 2018, Marlou Van De Braak has “breathed new life into the practice”. The former HOYNG ROKH MONEGIER partner brings cutting-edge litigation expertise to the mix and infuses the group with a more commercially oriented stance. Practicing alongside her in Amsterdam are Bart Schweitzer, Gerard van Hulst and Helma van de Langenberg. Schweitzer has a fine-milled understanding of the fashion, retail and media sectors and is an expert on copyright law and domain names, as well as trademarks. Van Hulst keeps discerning international brand owners happy and has made Novagraaf a byword for excellence among multinationals. Finally, van de Langenberg makes sure the right case law or legislative provision is put to use expeditiously and efficiently in the interests of the firm’s patrons. Taking the reins in Belgium and supervising a well-rounded team of 20 specialists is portfolio management devotee Ingrid Mennens. Alongside her in Brussels is Daphne Vervaet. She operates with her head on a swivel and can see any challenge to her clients’ market position coming a mile off so she can nip it in the bud.

Office Freylinger

Office Freylinger is a reference in Luxembourg when it comes to high-calibre trademark expertise. Lynchpin of the practice Olivier Laidebeur “knows when to push and when to play it safe”. In-house experience has equipped him with the know how to design infallible brand strategies that give clients commercial advantages. He filters advice through a business lens and draws on his background in tax law to provide comprehensive options to his patrons.

Signify

“Signify has quickly become a respected firm for trademark prosecution. Its group of hands-on, experienced attorneys demonstrate impressive strategic insight regarding both local and foreign matters. The team has set the highest standards and offers impeccable quality without breaking the bank.” Michiel Haegens, Merel Kamp and Peter van der Wees are all cut from the same cloth, which is to say they are passionate and motivated by a desire for perfection. Haegens, a former president of the Benelux Association for Trademark and Design Law (BMM) combines theoretical acumen with street smarts. “He provides comfort to clients who are dealing with difficult trademark issues – he takes care of problems calmly and his solutions are well thought out. He is among the best IP professionals anywhere.” Kamp, who also served on the BMM board, “provides clear and pertinent advice”, which is valued by in-house counsel facing time and budget pressures. Van der Wees has abundant teaching experience and displays a talent in his ability to break down complex IP topics and make them simple; his clients benefit from this as much as his law students.

VO Patents & Trademarks 

VO is the largest dedicated IP setup in the Netherlands and has been a redoubtable protector of brands at a European level for over a century. For those with large and diverse portfolios, it is a go-to firm; frictionless communication between the trademark and patent departments ensures that nothing is overlooked. Perennially in high demand is Noëlle Wolfs. One source enthuses: “Working with Noëlle is very much like dealing with an outstanding colleague in my own firm – she anticipates questions and provides proactive advice and recommendations in a client-friendly manner. Her service is simply wonderful.” Wolfs is responsible for the European trademark portfolio of Dole Food Company and the worldwide portfolio of global agricultural ingredient supplier Meelunie; for the latter she also sorts out counterfeiting matters in far-flung jurisdictions including Canada, China and Indonesia. Debuting in the WTR 1000 this year is Denys Bertels, who advises ING Group on strategy and manages the Benelux portfolio of Merck. She understands the law but crucially also knows how to apply it practically in the business world.

Other recommended experts

Eric Bakker, co-founder of Bakker & Verkuijl, gets straight to the heart of any matter, saving time and money for his clients. His three decades of experience shine through in his well-rounded and forward-thinking trademark protection strategies. “Arlette Molenaar is extremely knowledgeable and one of the best trademark attorneys in Benelux – and a particular master when it comes to oppositions. She sees the big picture and is fantastic at giving strategic advice as a result. She is friendly, kind, down to earth and an exceptionally hard worker who understands the needs of her clients.” You can find her at EQUIPP. ABCOR’s Theo-Willem van Leeuwen takes an offensive stance when it comes to strategy, anticipating potential infringement dangers in the digital domain to prevent problems before they occur.

Individuals

  • Eric Bakker - Bakker & Verkuijl BV
  • Sandra Bauwens - 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 - Signify
  • Alexander Hagen - HGF Ltd
  • Annelies M Hart - Knijff Trademark Attorneys
  • Patrick Hoefsmit - Merk-Echt BV
  • Maria-Gemma Huijnen - Chiever
  • Merel Kamp - Signify
  • 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
  • Kasper Radstake - HGF Ltd
  • Bart Schweitzer - Novagraaf
  • Alice Slabbaert - Chiever
  • Marlous Stal-Hilders - NLO Shieldmark
  • Volkert J Teding van Berkhout - Chiever
  • Marlou Van De Braak - Novagraaf
  • Helma van de Langenberg - Novagraaf
  • Masja van der Galiën - NLO Shieldmark
  • Peter van der Wees - Signify
  • Gerard van Hulst - Novagraaf
  • Theo-Willem van Leeuwen - ABCOR BV
  • Patricia Van Overbeke - Kirkpatrick SA
  • Daphne Vervaet - Novagraaf
  • Noëlle Wolfs - VO Patents & Trademarks