Benelux: Belgium

This year, further changes to the Benelux Convention on Intellectual Property have come into force, bringing Belgian trademark law in line with the rest of Europe through the implementation of the EU Trademarks Directive (2015/2436). Key changes include: the removal of the graphical representation requirement, which presents new opportunities for non-traditional trademarks; extended grounds for opposition and cancellation proceedings; and the introduction of a new registration system for  certification marks. The appointment of Ragnar Gustafsson as the new Director General of the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property, who promises to innovate IP services, embrace digitisation and work closely with other IP organisations in the region, presents a new and exciting era for the Benelux trademark space.

Firms

  • ALTIUS
  • HOYNG ROKH MONEGIER
  • NautaDutilh
  • Van Innis & Delarue 
  • Allen & Overy LLP
  • Bird & Bird LLP
  • Crowell & Moring LLP
  • Fieldfisher LLP
  • PETILLION
  • Simont Braun
  • Baker McKenzie 
  • CAPE IP Law
  • CEW & IPvocate
  • Lydian
  • Taylor Wessing

Allen & Overy LLP

While being a part of the firm’s wider global network, Allen & Overy’s Belgian branch is a force in its own right. The team has spent much of this year tackling a series of headline-grabbing contentious matters with Geert Glas and Peter Van Dyck leading the way. Glas is a first point of contact for those trying to navigating through complex disputes and his years of experience make him “one of the most trusted trademark advisors in the region. The archetype of the model Belgian IP lawyer, Glas understands everything there is to know about trademarks”. Teammate Van Dyck is another agile litigator in the group’s ranks who is a “rising star and definitely one to watch”. Recently, the pair teamed up to assist longstanding client Intel with the protection of its flagship INTEL and INTEL INSIDE trademarks, and they continue to handle anti-counterfeiting matters for the leading technology giant.

ALTIUS

“The undisputed number one in Belgium,” ALTIUS is at the cutting edge of game-changing contentious trials. “ALTIUS stands out from other law firms on the market in the way that it takes clients through every part of the process. Its advice is to the point, clear and covers potential solutions for every eventuality.” Legend of the Belgian trademark scene Paul Maeyaert “is a senior statesman and is a go-to for the most significant trademark cases. Aggressive when necessary, if you plead against him, you must be well prepared as he can find holes in any argument.” This year, future leader of the group Jeroen Muyldermans has been Maeyaert’s right hand and together form a well-functioning team. With an “encyclopaedic knowledge of intellectual property law, Olivier Vrins is an extremely bright lawyer and friendly personality, which explains his repeated success with clients. A first-class IP lawyer who delivers business-oriented advice, he is without doubt one of the most talented IP lawyers in Belgium.

Baker McKenzie 

With an A-list client base, offshoring capabilities and a technology focus, Baker McKenzie is an all-encompassing IP machine. Part of the furniture is international litigator Koen De Winter, who “has a huge amount of experience, a strong ability to deliver outstanding legal advice that helps his clients’ business goals and objectives. A trusted advisor and sensational attorney, De Winter is fast, savvy, efficient and thorough.” Making his debut in the WTR 1000 this year is the healthcare, consumer goods and retail specialist Michael De Vroey. “De Vroey definitely knows his stuff. He is pragmatic, to the point and always digs deep to find different arguments and unique angles. An efficient and cost-effective practitioner, he sets a perfect example of how trademark matters should be handled.”

Bird & Bird LLP

Given that excellent global brand management is synonymous with Bird & Bird, it is little wonder that international leaders call on its Belgian team time and time again. Having the backing of the outfit’s wider group facilitates a holistic approach, and while IP is a support practice in other firms, it is a priority at Bird & Bird. Instrumental to the its IP focus is Jean-Christophe Troussel, a transactional lawyer, litigator, adviser and head of the trademark team who does it all. Trusted counsellor to Christian Dior, “Troussel is a true gentleman and runs an excellent team of practitioners who are tough litigators and pose a real challenge for opponents”.

CAPE IP Law

“The CAPE IP team is small, but its performance is outstanding. The boutique’s combination of high specialisation with a hands-on approach coupled with its quick turnaround, effective communication and attention to detail is unique. The firm provides clear-cut instructions and is available to help at any time.” Having a close-knit team allows for a more personal touch and the dynamic duo of Patricia Cappuyns and Véronique Pede are central to this. Well-versed litigator Cappuyns is adept at coordinating international trademark disputes and has recently coordinated litigation in three European countries in a trademark and unfair competition matter. Alongside her, co-founder Pede is “a dedicated, seasoned and experienced IP lawyer who is extremely committed to finding the best outcomes for her clients. She is a team player who enables cooperation and is a pleasure to work with.”

CEW & IPvocate

Leading the fight against counterfeiters and infringers, CEW & IPvocate provides a personal and bespoke service for clients. This team has many strings to its bow, handling complex trademark litigation and more traditional IP work such as unfair competition and distribution contracts. The firm represents a constellation of leading lights in the luxury brand and health and safety sectors, and has ties to Mauritius-based IPvocate Africa Legal Advisers Ltd. The tip of the spear at CEW & IPvocate is Marius Schneider, who “gives great advice, is responsive and provides cost-effective solutions for clients”.

Crowell & Moring LLP

Coordinating cross-border matters and handling the worldwide enforcement of its clients’ portfolios are the key strengths of Crowell & Moring. Not resting on its laurels, the acquisition of marquee signing Gunther Meyer, expert in pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical devices, is a sign of the firm’s ambitions. Renowned in the industry, Meyer is admired for the quality of his work and his forthcoming and direct approach. Heading up the team is Jan-Diederik Lindemans, a known figurehead who comes into his own in the more complex trials. “Always sharp, very knowledgeable with a keen eye on the commercial interests of his clients, Jan-Diederik is really good at pleadings and has a persuasive manner of convincing the court.” This year, Judith Bussé lined up alongside him in a series of contentious matters, and the pair recently obtained a positive result in relation to the unauthorised use of client Bonzai Records’ trademark. Bussé “is a quick thinker and is able to spot the legal issues in a complex set of facts. She is efficient, reliable and solution-oriented and thoroughly deserves her place in the WTR 1000”. “If you want an aggressive lawyer, Kristof Roox is your go-to. He is supremely intelligent and really thinks outside the box and has a more refreshing outlook on trademarks.” Co-managing the firm, Roox is known as a fierce litigator on the one hand and an amiable colleague on the other.

Fieldfisher LLP

European powerhouse Fieldfisher LLP has a laser focus in the media, pharmaceutical, high-tech and retail industries and is renowned for its ability to coordinate effortlessly with its other offices to provide a more integrated approach. Tag team pair Stijn Debaene and Hakim Haouideg are a force to be reckoned with in the Belgian trademark arena. Debaene heads up the IP department and seamlessly traverses the contentious/non-contentious divide. An out-of-the-box thinker and multilinguist, Debaene is someone to have in your corner. Alongside him, Haouideg is a go-to practitioner for cases with a technological slant and comes into his own in domain name disputes.

HOYNG ROKH MONEGIER

From multinationals to start-ups, the flexible team at HOYNG ROKH MONEGIER is well placed to assist clients with all of their IP needs. Its Belgian team’s ability to handle the most difficult trademark cases makes it a sought-out home for the most high-profile brands around. “Its attorneys are highly skilled, very responsive to its clients’ needs and, in all ways, professional in their behaviour,” enthuses one client. The first woman to be featured in the Belgian gold tier of the WTR 1000, Carina Gommers deserves every accolade she receives. While covering anti-counterfeiting and prosecution work, Gommers comes into her own in the contentious field. “Clear in her questions, she finds creative solutions to complex legal issues. Providing commercial guidance on all manner of IP issues, Gommers is a reliable and trusted professional.” Often working in tandem with Carl De Meyer, the pair “complement each other well and think alongside the client”. De Meyer goes beyond the case and looks at situations with unique perspectives. He is a seasoned professional who is “theoretically and technically astute and is an overall excellent lawyer”.

Lydian

One of the main players in the Benelux anti-counterfeiting sphere, Lydian carves a niche for itself in the watch and luxury sector. In this light, at the heart of the firm practice is Annick Mottet Haugaard, “the queen of anti-counterfeiting work in Belgium. On this side of things, she has done some excellent work and represents some very impressive clients.” For foreign clients seeking top-notch IP advice in Belgium, Lydian is an obvious choice due to its capability to advise in English, French and Dutch.

NautaDutilh

“The NautaDutilh team deserves its reputation: the quality of their work and pleadings is outstanding. Without being overly aggressive or unreasonable, they manage to get the job done and deliver results for its clients.” The firm’s leading strike force takes the form of IP celebrities Philippe Péters and Tanguy de Haan. Head of the team Péters “is a real gentleman with an encyclopaedic knowledge of trademark law; you would do well to find a better IP litigator in Belgium”. Alongside him, “the incredibly bright litigator De Haan “has an extraordinary track record and always develops the right strategy for his clients. With a sharp commercial mind, he is fast becoming a recognised name in the Belgian trademark scene”. Often teaming up, the pair “have a very solid experience and knowledge of Benelux and EU trademark law. They are responsive, professional, pro-active and put the client at the forefront of everything the firm does.” The solution-driven Florence Verhoestraete is a contentious and transactional whizz. “A friendly and approachable practitioner, she is excellent in the courtroom, particularly when it comes to convincing her audience of her mode of thinking and guiding them through her persuasive narratives.”

PETILLION

Leading the way in the domain name field, PETILLION deservedly makes its debut in the WTR 1000 this year. “A go-to firm for contentious matters in the EU, particularly for software or internet-related issues, PELTILLION is a high-quality service provider which can handle the work of much larger firms but at far lower rates.” Running the show is “the brilliant litigator and arbitrator Flip Petillion, who is a true expert in the field of internet policy and disputes. Personally handling cases, he is a partner to his clients and is preeminent in his skill and professionalism”. This year, Petillion has managed a variety of work for key client IKEA, including the unauthorised use of domain names and social media advertising as well as a trademark infringement case against a Dutch company, highlighting the broad range of his trademark capabilities.

Simont Braun

The specialist team of litigators at Simont Braun handles landmark trademark cases before the highest domestic and European courts. “Simont Braun is the most meticulous law firm in the Benelux. It is difficult to find an equivalent side which offers the same standard of professionalism, IP knowledge and clarity of advice.” The linguistic abilities of its practitioners to carry out work in French, Dutch, English and German is testament to the group’s international capabilities. In this light, trilingual Emmanuel Cornu is a luxury, food and telecoms specialist. “No one can say a bad word about his legal qualities. He is a well-reputed practitioner and one of the best in the land for trademark law.” Handling contentious matters at home and abroad, Eric De Gryse is a sharp strategist who comes into his own in the most complex of cases. Cornu and De Gryse came to the defence of retail client HEMA BV in a trademark infringement case where they were able to significantly knock down a hefty damages claim.

Taylor Wessing

Newcomers on the Belgian IP scene, Taylor Wessing represents market leaders in the life sciences and pharmaceutical sectors. Being integrated into the firm’s Dutch IP team allows the group to really flex its Benelux capabilities. Joining the outfit last year is trademark superstar Christian Dekoninck, who continues to go from strength to strength. “A gentleman of the trademark sphere, Dekoninck has the knowledge and character to take Taylor Wessing’s Belgian wing to the next level. Providing concise legal advice, he tells clients exactly what they need to know.”

Van Innis & Delarue 

For high-end design and luxury brands, Van Innis & Delarue is the first name on the team sheet. With an impressive client roster and track record, this group of sharpshooting litigators are the first port of call for make-or-break litigation. Co-founders Thierry van Innis and Dieter Delarue are the atria of the firm’s heart. Van Innis “is a mastermind of IP who has a huge knowledge of EU case law and remarkable drafting skills; a fierce competitor, his expertise in trademark law is undeniable. He is one of the best trademark lawyers in Europe”. Fellow litigator “Delarue is one of the kings of trademark law whose quality of work is impeccable. He is a strategic lawyer who always has the ear of the court”.

Other recommended experts

Co-founder of Brantsandpatents, Christoph Bourgeois “is a creative practitioner who finds solutions in the trickiest of situations. A reliable and serious individual, Bourgeois is very responsive and possesses excellent trademark knowledge.” Moving up to the silver tier this year is former president of the Benelux Trademark Association and CMS Belgium practitioner Tom Heremans, who “is a seasoned practitioner and a known entity in the Belgian trademark scene”. Plying his trade at Simmons & Simmons, Olivier Mignolet is a renowned author and life sciences sage known for his commercial litigation and licensing prowess. Recently formed Prioux Culot + Partners are the new kids on the block, and leading the team is Pierre-Yves Thoumsin who is “a responsive, competent and pragmatic practitioner who completely masters the subtleties of IP matters”. Looking at cases with a helicopter view, Stibbe’s life sciences expert Ignace Vernimme covers every possible angle to provide well-rounded advice for his clients.

Individuals

  • Emmanuel Cornu - Simont Braun
  • Carl De Meyer - HOYNG ROKH MONEGIER
  • Dieter Delarue - Van Innis & Delarue 
  • Geert V Glas - Allen & Overy LLP
  • Carina Gommers - HOYNG ROKH MONEGIER
  • Paul Maeyaert - ALTIUS
  • Philippe Péters - NautaDutilh
  • Flip Petillion - PETILLION
  • Thierry van Innis - Van Innis & Delarue 
  • Olivier Vrins - ALTIUS
  • Eric De Gryse - Simont Braun
  • Tanguy de Haan - NautaDutilh
  • Koen De Winter - Baker McKenzie
  • Stijn Debaene - Fieldfisher LLP
  • Christian Dekoninck - Taylor Wessing
  • Hakim Haouideg - Fieldfisher LLP
  • Tom Heremans - CMS Belgium
  • Jan-Diederik Lindemans - Crowell & Moring LLP
  • Annick Mottet Haugaard - Lydian
  • Véronique Pede - CAPE IP Law
  • Kristof Roox - Crowell & Moring LLP
  • Marius Schneider - CEW & IPvocate
  • Jean-Christophe Troussel - Bird & Bird LLP
  • Peter Van Dyck - Allen & Overy LLP
  • Florence Verhoestraete - NautaDutilh
  • Christoph Bourgeois - Brantsandpatents
  • Judith Busse - Crowell & Moring LLP
  • Patricia Cappuyns - CAPE IP Law
  • Michael De Vroey - Baker McKenzie
  • Gunther Meyer - Crowell & Moring LLP
  • Olivier Mignolet - Simmons & Simmons LLP
  • Pierre-Yves Thoumsin - Prioux Culot + Partners 
  • Ignace Vernimme - Stibbe

Individuals: anti-counterfeiting

  • Carl De Meyer - HOYNG ROKH MONEGIER
  • Carina Gommers - HOYNG ROKH MONEGIER
  • Annick Mottet Haugaard - Lydian
  • Marius Schneider - CEW & IPvocate
  • Olivier Vrins - ALTIUS