The traditional separation between law firms and agencies in Benelux has been distorted in recent years: many legal practices have established or expanded their prosecution offerings, and in response agencies have reoriented themselves towards strategic advice and pre-litigation counselling. Nevertheless, agencies remain a significant and distinctive presence in the jurisdiction’s trademark marketplace. As this section suggests, many of the well-established outfits remain major players in prosecution. The WTR 1000 rankings also highlight a number of new brand protection options in the union, including a major international practice which recently expanded into the Netherlands, a newly featured boutique and a highly praised sole practitioner.
Arnold + Siedsma
The Netherlands’ first ISO 9001-certified IP agency, Arnold + Siedsma provides impeccable brand management counselling and unfailingly efficient filing services. Delivering “clear, concise and pragmatic advice”, its top-notch team – which is stationed across a web of Belgian and Dutch offices – is “a good choice for tricky international registrations”. With lawyers as well as trademark attorneys on its books, the firm is also an assured guide in contentious circumstances and helps to stitch up IP-driven licensing agreements. Seasoned professional Joop Elzas earns glittering acclaim from peers. “He is at the top of the league in Benelux. His knowledge of trademark prosecution is exhaustive and he can deal with any scenario that might arise.”
Widely celebrated for its “value-adding strategic counsel”, Chiever also elicits praise for serving up “consistently high-quality work in a timely and friendly manner”. With 25 dedicated practitioners, the Amsterdam-based boutique has the wherewithal to dispatch the most unwieldy mandates, but never fails to implement a flexible, personalised approach. Since its establishment in 2011, Chiever has risen to “the top of the market”, gaining particular traction with international Dutch brands. Star performer Bas Kist “has a great reputation for trademark matters. He is very creative and provides real insights – he doesn’t work to a template”. Alice Slabbaert is another mainstay; she has a laser focus on outcomes and provides flawless client service. Making his debut in the WTR 1000 by popular demand, Volkert Teding van Berkhout gives his patrons a tactical edge in portfolio development. His colleague Maria-Gemma Huijnen also makes her first appearance in the guide; she brandishes dual IP and marketing prowess to great effect.
Dennemeyer & Associates SA
The internationally minded Dennemeyer & Associates is adept in both Benelux and EU trademark prosecution, and outposts around the world make it a go-to firm for global filing campaigns as well. The Luxembourg team combines first-class practitioners and fine-tuned electronic systems to build and oversee watertight brand protection programme and by drawing on the firm’s admirable legal expertise, it can also advise on a range of contentious and transactional matters. Helming the local trademark group, Olivier Lombardo exhibits impressive business acuity when shaping branding strategies; having founded his own film production company, he has a keen sense of commercial priorities and knows media and entertainment law inside out. In addition to being a slick prosecutor, the versatile practitioner is well versed in enforcement matters and is a member of the Licensing Executives Society.
Home to a large team of professionals which is boosted by impressive support structures, GEVERS handles major portfolios with efficiency, precision and composure. A longstanding leader in filing and registration, it is becoming increasingly sought after for complex litigation briefs. A sprawling network of offices across Belgium, France and Switzerland gives it considerable reachacross the continent, while its China and US desks ensure seamless cooperation with partners in the world’s two largest economies. Benjamin Gevers is a key contact in the Brussels bureau; he makes light work of challenging non-contentious mandates and also distinguishes himself in the anti-counterfeiting arena.
Having acquired three of Benelux’s pre-eminent trademark practitioners, HGF has made an immediate impact in the jurisdiction with its new offices in The Hague and Amsterdam. One of the top filers of EU rights, it also stands out from the crowd with its masterful handling of the most complex branding conundrums; its team in the Netherlands has a panoramic understanding of intellectual property and dispenses perceptive advice on both non-contentious and contentious matters. Recent arrivals from Novagraaf Alexander Hagen, Kasper Radstake and Pieter de Ruijter form the bedrock of the group. Hagen is a highly praised pan-European counsellor with a penchant for protecting fast-moving consumer goods companies. Adept at assessing risks, he also has a niche understanding of the Chinese market and is therefore also popular with clients considering expansion into Asia. Holistic brand manager Radstake is equally comfortable building fortress-like portfolios and getting fake goods removed from the market. Their colleague de Ruijter has a nuanced grasp of design rights issues.
Large and established agency Kirkpatrick SA is tried and tested in the weightiest trademark mandates: whether in multifaceted filing campaigns, brand rights planning or in spats before the Benelux Office of Intellectual Property (BOIP), its well-trained team works tirelessly to get the right outcome for its prestigious international clientele. Patricia Van Overbeke is an important name for the address book; she dazzles in licensing and prosecution briefs. Fluent in five languages – Dutch, French, English, Italian and German – Van Overbeke works harmoniously with multinationals of all stripes.
Knijff Trademark Attorneys
With a 70-strong crew of IP experts, the “excellent” Knijff is a formidable force on the Dutch trademark and designs landscape: it taps a vast reservoir of talent to dispatch complicated briefs with finesse. Despite its size, the firm prides itself on attentive and personalised case handling, tailored to each client’s specific needs. Assured portfolio handler Annelies Hart knows her patrons’ businesses back to front and is lauded for her “commercial and legal savvy”. Similarly clued up, Ellen Gevers makes her sophomore appearance in the WTR 1000 following glowing peer feedback; she is “one of the leading attorneys on the market” and has a fine-tuned appreciation of branding issues.
Marks & Clerk
A vital part of a extensive international network with 17 offices in Europe, Asia and North America, Marks & Clerk’s Luxembourg team – whose members speak 15 languages – works seamlessly across borders to secure ironclad brand protection for its blue-chip clients. The side is also proficient in disputes, providing robust advocacy in BOIP proceedings and rendering astute pre-litigation guidance. Martin Gutwillinger is the lynchpin of the practice. One patron enthuses: “Prompt, responsive and detail oriented, Martin impresses in trademark applications and preparing arguments to overcome office objections.”
With a 125-year history in intellectual property, NLO Shieldmark remains at the forefront of trademark practice; already a dominant player in the Netherlands, it is now forging a reputation for itself in Belgium where it opened a new office recently. Lauded for efficient IP rights management for medium to large sized companies, its teams – whose practitioners possess diverse and complementary expertise – provide joined-up counsel at all stages of the branding lifecycle. “It has the ideal combination of a large infrastructure and a personal approach”. One shrewd adviser is Marlous Stal-Hilders, who, in addition to shaping trademark prosecution strategies, helps to mediate between conflicting parties and skilfully negotiates settlement agreements. Her colleague Jeroen Cornelis is an “outstanding practitioner” who understands client priorities – and knows how to realise them. “He is au fait with international filing issues, and is a reliable and great person to work with.” The “absolutely outstanding” Milca Graver-de Looper is another pillar of the practice. “Very hands-on, dedicated and pragmatic, she also keeps a clear overview of matters.” Graver-de Looper recently secured a favourable resolution to the long-running legal battle between Red Bull and her client Bulldog. Masja van der Galiën debuts in the WTR 1000 this year on a wave of enthusiastic acclaim: “She is hardworking, fast-thinking and deeply knowledgeable – exactly what a client wants.”
“Certainly a market leader in Benelux”, Novagraaf is entrusted by an array of prestigious brand owners to oversee their domestic and international portfolios. Bolstered by top-of-the-range support systems – including the firm’s own EasyIP management portal – and an unsurpassed global network of professionals, its teams in Belgium and the Netherlands work with an overarching focus on quality in jurisdictions around the world. Despite the loss of three senior trademark professionals lately, its Benelux offices continue to boast an impressive collection of seasoned experts and talented young professionals. The recent acquisition of top-flight practitioner Marlou van de Braak was a major coup for its Dutch ensemble: the former Hoyng Rokh Monegier and De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek leader brings holistic knowledge of trademark prosecution, transactions and enforcement into play in her new role as key account director. Time-served attorney Gerard van Hulst shows “a flair for the development and exploitation of international portfolios”. Another mainstay is Helma van de Langenburg, whose diligence and clearsighted advice is sought out by several household names in the fashion, food and beverage sectors. “Rising star” Bart Schweitzer works with surgical precision and machine-like efficiency; he brandishes stellar know-how in trademarks and domain name matters. Leading the Belgian outfit, Ingrid Mennens has both a keen eye for detail and an expansive view of the bigger picture. “Having been around for a long time, she is very astute and takes good care of clients.” Her colleague Daphne Vervaert also receives high praise: “She is very smart, thorough and effective. She interacts with clients brilliantly, and is focused on business development rather than purely on legal issues.”
“A well-integrated practice, with skilled professionals and significant resources”, Luxembourg-based Office Freylinger registers, upholds and enforces trademarks with aplomb. The versatile Olivier Laidebeur leads from the vanguard on soft IP matters. Having served as an in-house counsel, and with admirable business and tax law nous, he sees branding matters from his clients’ point of view and with a broad commercial perspective. Appearing before the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), the World Intellectual Property Organisation and a slew of national IP administrations, he has legal horizons which extend far beyond the grand duchy.
Founded in 2013, Signify has quickly carved a niche for itself among Benelux’s elite trademark agencies and makes its first appearance in the WTR 1000 this year. Relentlessly high standards, tailor-made advice and hands-on partner involvement are the hallmarks of the compact boutique’s trade. Led by a close-knit team of experienced soft IP professionals, the young practice was boosted by the arrival of former VO Patents & Trademarks department head Michiel Haegens in late 2016. The president of the Benelux Association of Trademark Attorneys, he “has a deep knowledge of case law and is a big-picture thinker on intellectual property who dispenses important tactical insights. He is easy to work with and very accessible”. “Top-drawer attorney” Haegens joins founding partners Merel Kamp and Peter van der Wees at the Signify helm. An especially popular choice among small and medium-sized enterprises and Netherlands-based international brands, Kamp is known for her strategic savvy and client-handling skills; she also has a penchant for pharmaceuticals trademarks. Worldwide portfolio management for the Eindhoven-based Coosto is one of her ongoing projects. A 20-year veteran with a cultivated and nuanced grasp of IP matters, van der Wees comes into his own when executing challenging cross-border instructions. With Haegens, he has been assisting Barista Technology BV with global brand rights prosecution across more than 20 countries.
The largest IP-dedicated firm in the Netherlands, VO Patents & Trademarks “provides excellent advice and a wonderful service for Benelux and EU matters”: its polished registration offering is matched by its splendid strategic counselling and staunch representation in pre-litigation disputes. Noëlle Wolfs captains the set with verve. One foreign associate enthuses: “She is a go-getter and very proactive, anticipating my questions and identifying issues that might arise. Working with her is a pleasure; it is like dealing with a colleague in my own firm.” A dab hand before the BOIP and EUIPO, she also has a gift for hunting down and removing imitations from the market. Wolfs has lately exhibited a sure touch in oppositions and negotiations for Robert Bosch GmbH and has been tackling counterfeiters of Sanrio Japan’s products.
Other recommended experts
Eric Bakker of Bakker & Verkujil wields over three decades of experience protecting brands and trademarks internationally, and is “extremely insightful in respect of prosecution strategies”. “Fantastic trademark attorney” Arlette Molenaar “specialises in brief, practical advice with a clear conclusion. She has a bird’s-eye view and knows how to achieve brands’ strategic objectives”. Heading her own firm, EQUIPP, she brings a personal touch to Benelux and worldwide registration campaigns. Her “positive and open personality” strikes a resonant chord with clients, who trust her with crucial branding matters.
- Eric Bakker - Bakker & Verkuijl BV
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Patricia Van Overbeke - Kirkpatrick SA
- Daphne Vervaet - Novagraaf
- Noëlle Wolfs - VO Patents & Trademarks