Benelux: Belgium

The main trademark-related development in Belgium has been the implementation of amendments to the Benelux Convention on Intellectual Property; whereas previously appeals from decisions of the Benelux Office of Intellectual Property (BOIP) could be lodged at the Belgian Court of Appeal, these now must be filed at the Benelux Court of Justice; the updates also enable practitioners in Belgium to file invalidity and revocation actions at the BOIP. Otherwise it has been a fairly quiet time for intellectual property in the country; the lack of any changes to the WTR 1000 Belgium firm rankings for 2019 attests to a stable market.

Firms

Allen & Overy LLP

Allen & Overy runs a robust standalone IP practice in Belgium – it is not just there to support the firm’s famous corporate and banking practices. Strengthening relationships with marquee multinationals has been the main story of the past year, although the set continues to make inroads into the domestic market acting for Belgian leaders, such as Duvel Moortgat. The 2017 promotion to the partnership of Peter Van Dyck gave the team great momentum going into 2018. Van Dyck draws up bulletproof agreements within his stand-out transactional practice and he also litigates dexterously too. He has flourished under the direction of senior counsel Geert Glas, a “highly respected all-around IP lawyer” with over three decades of experience. He has been dealing with infringers of the iconic Duvel beer brand and is currently handling an unfair competition dispute revolving around Duvel’s packaging.

ALTIUS

“ALTIUS does a terrific job in trademark litigation and portfolio management. It follows instructions to the letter and its recommendations are always well-founded and clear.” The gold-rated firm renders a holistic IP service, which is enhanced by adjacent expertise in unfair competition and regulatory law – the latter being an increasing area of focus. Strong leadership is provided to a stable and consistent team by head of intellectual property Paul Maeyaert and Olivier Vrins, both of whom also maintain gold-tier status. Respected as “an aggressive lawyer with a straightforward approach”, Maeyaert is “someone you want on your side”. “He is also an amicable person who knows and applies every detail of IP law in his work.” He gets called in when there is a lot on the line and is currently representing Emirates airline in commercial court proceedings against software and app developer Skyfresh, which is seeking a pan-EU injunction and millions of dollars in compensation. “Although he is a young partner, Olivier is a very experienced and seasoned professional. He has exceptional academic knowledge and is one of the brightest stars of Belgian intellectual property. He is an expert in general EU law and his advice goes well beyond trademarks.” Litigation-focused, he has exemplary knowledge of border measures and currently serves as chair of the European Communities Trademark Association Anti-Counterfeiting Committee and has written extensively on the subject.

Baker McKenzie 

To many, Baker McKenzie is the best firm in the world when it comes to global trademark portfolio management; it employs sophisticated propriety technology platforms and leverages an off-shore facility in Manila to perform tasks efficiently and cost-effectively for multinationals. Its teams in multiple locations also bring cutting-edge litigation and enforcement skills to the table, which is certainly true of Koen De Winter and his crew in Belgium. Vastly experienced, De Winter cuts a dash in litigation across the IP spectrum. “He is hands-on with his cases, incredibly responsive and proactive, and provides clear, practical and business-minded advice.” Cultivating its patent, design and trade secrets practices has been a focus for the team of late and progress is being made; De Winter is currently defending Van Ratingen in a sprawling and complex design infringement claim brought by Philips concerning a registered community design for an air fryer.

Bird & Bird LLP

Satisfying the total trademark and strategic IP needs of big brands is what Bird & Bird does best. The firm acquits itself with distinction in the digital domain and has lately been undertaking cutting-edge advisory and contentious work. At the same time, it has been pushing its highly successful sector model by which it provides a rigorously commercial service and rock-solid legal, technical and regulatory expertise to pharmaceutical, biotech, food and beverage and internet companies. Taking the reins is Jean-Christophe Troussel, an experienced lawyer who fills the trusted adviser role to perfection. On his desk recently have been important anti-dilution cases for Facebook and Instagram.

CAPE IP Law

CAPE IP is growing – it recruited its fifth lawyer in late 2017 and then moved to a larger office space in Ghent – all in response to increased demand from domestic and international technology, life sciences, consumer goods and textile sectors for the firm’s personal and attentive service and pure litigation pedigree. Experienced litigators and passionate IP devotees, Véronique Pede and Patricia Cappuyns lead the line. Pede, who ascends to the silver tier this year, completely understands her clients’ business objectives and digs deep to attain their goals. Respected for her tenacity, Cappuyns also has an outstanding reputation. She is currently coordinating multi-jurisdictional litigation for Varo against competitor Kärcher regarding the use of the colour yellow on a high-pressure cleaner.

Crowell & Moring LLP

Crowell & Moring maintains a glorious global trademark and design practice. Leveraging its international footprint, the firm does a first-rate job managing portfolios and enforcing rights worldwide. When it comes to duelling in the Belgian courts, the Brussels team steps up to the mark with confidence and poise, earning recognition as “one of the top litigation outfits in the country”. Jan-Diederik Lindemans is an ace on pre-trial discovery and injunctive proceedings with a reputation for excellence in both patents and trademarks. “Tough opponent” Kristof Roox proves his mettle time and time again in complex cross-border disputes.

Fieldfisher LLP

Fieldfisher’s Belgian IP team punches way above its weight in terms of capacity when it comes to coordinating IP litigation strategy across Europe; the outstanding skills of the two partners Stijn Debaene and Hakim Haouideg been key in this, but the interconnectedness of the firm’s Brussels, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, London, Munich and Paris offices is also an important factor. Debaene and Haouideg are hailed as “excellent team players and highly professional and superb litigators”. Their efficiency has been invaluable in managing a large workload recently; on the non-contentious side they have been handling filings and renewals for Telent, managing Pharma Simple’s IP portfolio and running oppositions for YO! Sushi, while on the disputes front they have been assisting Rockstar Games and many others.

HOYNG ROKH MONEGIER

This European IP powerhouse HOYNG ROKH MONEGIER scores high marks from the clients who know it best: “The team comes up with creative solutions – it’s not always ‘let’s take this to court’ – and gets better outcomes quicker and more cost-effectively than others. It focuses 100% on the interests of clients.” The gold-tier firm renders 360-degree support to a prestigious group of clients, which includes Philip Morris International and The Coca-Cola Company on prosecution and Philips, among others, on litigation. Practice head Carl De Meyer is “an authority on trademark law and a technically gifted and tenacious lawyer”. He recently oversaw a multi-jurisdictional Community design dispute on behalf of Simplot against McCain in which he secured an injunction against two Dutch entities of the McCain group on the basis of a finding that McCain’s ‘Rustic Twist’ potato product infringed Simplot’s rights. Second in command is Carina Gommers, a “thorough, practical, reliable professional and outstanding writer”. As one respondent enthuses: “She tailors her approach brilliantly and her diligence is unparalleled.”

Lydian

Independent Belgian IP firm Lydian is top-drawer when it comes to enforcement and has an ardent following of high-profile trademark owners, particularly in the luxury sector, who value its no-nonsense approach to anti-counterfeiting. “Sharp, practical and hands on,” Annick Mottet Haugaard brings the heat when tackling fakers and other infringers. Orchestrating major seizures for the likes of Burberry and Gucci is an everyday occurrence for Haugaard, “the doyenne of anti-counterfeiting”. No one-trick pony, the seven-lawyer Lydian stable also notches up victories in civil infringement cases and delivers crisp results when it comes to filing and oppositions.

NautaDutilh

“An influential player in the Belgian IP and legal market, NautaDutilh is eminently capable when it comes to the most complex trademark cases.” Beacons of litigation excellence, Philippe Péters and Tanguy de Haan have put in performances of great éclat in precedential trademark litigations before Beglian and European courts and have an excellent track record of success to show for it. Unsurprisingly, they both garner enthusiastic feedback from the market: “Philippe has been one of the top guys for years. He is a true gentleman who has mastered the art of trademark litigation.” “Exceptionally experienced, Tanguy has a natural ability to understand and satisfy the business needs of his clients. He has impressive technical expertise and a profound knowledge of jurisprudence.” An all-around strategic IP mastermind, Florence Verhoestraete completes this dream team. Exercising an eagle eye for detail and managing client expectations effectively, she showcases superb dexterity as both a counsellor and litigator. The trademark triumvirate have teamed up for GlaxoSmithKline in its dispute with Sandoz over the colour purple applied to asthma inhalers.

Simont Braun

Clients looking for specialised IP advice matched by the resources and wider commercial perspective of a general practice law firm find that Simont Braun fits the bill perfectly. The set has always had a strong focus on international IP practice and cultivates a sterling record of success in trademark litigation. Emmanuel Cornu and Eric De Gryse showed just what they can do recently by securing an injunction for Caterpillar after the Court of Appeal of Liege found that Clohse Group’s use of TIGERCAT for forestry machines created a likelihood of confusion with the Caterpillar CAT mark. “Emmanuel renders detailed and clear opinions and delivers practical strategies. His prices are reasonable, even though he is one of the very best IP lawyers in Belgium.” De Gryse delivers thanks to his quick thinking and superior litigation instincts.

Van Innis & Delarue 

Ultra-sophisticated IP firm Van Innis & Delarue delivers the goods time and time again in must-win trademark litigation. The ensemble’s tailor-made strategies go down a storm among the chicest luxury and fashion brands. “The pope of trademark law” Thierry Van Innis is an intrepid litigator and enduring fixture in the courts. As just one example of the sort of high-profile work he does, he represents Christian Louboutin in multitudinous proceedings relating to the famous red sole trademark. Unflinching in the limelight, Dieter Delarue is another “star litigator”. He has an arsenal of attack plans up his sleeve and deploys innovative tactics to wrongfoot his opponents. In response to demand, the firm has increased its strategic prosecution practice recently and recruited Linde Leblans from the EUIPO to help with the effort.

Other recommended experts

Christian Dekoninck swapped out Crowell & Moring for Taylor Wessing in 2018. Sources laud him as being “a compelling litigator with a thorough and in-depth knowledge of trademark law.” “Tom Heremans consistently delivers high-quality services and is a very approachable litigator.” The CMS lawyer has broad expertise in copyright, advertising and marketing, along with media and technology, enabling him to think holistically about brands. Olivier Mignolet of Simmons & Simmons “is a great attorney, he is innovative, collaborative, accurate and always prepared to help”. For companies in the life sciences sector, he is an excellent first port of call. Founder of PETILLION, Flip Petillion is an authority on internet-related trademark matters. He has three decades of experience in litigation and alternative dispute resolution and provides an absolutely first-class service. The IP department at CEW & Partners, IPvocate, hosts Marius Schneider, a leading expert on border measures. Schneider takes his clients’ interests to heart and analyses their problems through a commercial lens.

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
  • 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
  • Annick Mottet Haugaard - Lydian
  • Véronique Pede - CAPE IP Law
  • Flip Petillion - PETILLION
  • Jean-Christophe Troussel - Bird & Bird LLP
  • Florence Verhoestraete - NautaDutilh
  • Patricia Cappuyns - CAPE IP Law
  • Tom Heremans - CMS Belgium
  • Jan-Diederik Lindemans - Crowell & Moring LLP
  • Olivier Mignolet - Simmons & Simmons LLP
  • Kristof Roox - Crowell & Moring LLP
  • Marius Schneider - IPvocate, the IP department of CEW & Partners
  • Peter Van Dyck - Allen & Overy LLP

Individuals: anti-counterfeiting

  • Carl De Meyer - HOYNG ROKH MONEGIER
  • Carina Gommers - HOYNG ROKH MONEGIER
  • Annick Mottet Haugaard - Lydian
  • Marius Schneider - IPvocate, the IP department of CEW & Partners
  • Olivier Vrins - ALTIUS