Norway

Norway’s economy has been heavily hit by the worldwide slump in oil prices, but efforts are now being made to rejuvenate it; Norges Bank has lowered interest rates and the government has dipped into its oil fund for a significant stimulus package. However, consumer and business confidence remains low, which is having a damaging effect on the IP market. Some brand owners are going to great lengths to protect their most valuable marks – and sew up lucrative licensing deals – while others appear reluctant to reach into their pockets in these uncertain times. IP firms will have to look into ways of making their service more cost effective and their billing more flexible if they want to secure new business.

Firms: enforcement and litigation

Firms: prosecution and strategy

Advokatfirmaet Grette DA

“Talking about the Norwegian IP market without mentioning Grette is impossible. It’s a fantastic firm with highly specialised, internationally minded professionals – unquestionably one of the best choices for infringement matters.” Leading the side is dynamic duo Ida Gjessing and Felix Reimers. As one respondent enthuses, Gjessing is a “tremendous litigator with a broad knowledge of intellectual property and the ability to convince a judge of anything; it is fun just watching her in court”. Another contentious heavyweight, the “brilliant” Reimers knows case law like the back of his hand. Aside from Gjessing and Reimers, the firm has plenty more in its arsenal, for example the enviably experienced Amund Brede Svendsen. Not one to pull a punch, he complements his hard-hitting trademark enforcement practice with exceptional competition law knowledge. While the firm is at its strongest when tackling contentious mandates, it also delivers in non-contentious matters; the side’s well-developed internal infrastructure makes portfolio management a cinch.

Advokatfirmaet Haavind AS

One of the most renowned full-service firms in Norway, Haavind is home to a squad of first-rate legal experts, but its trademark professionals are among its most prized assets; they provide a comprehensive suite of services ranging from filing through rights transfers to courtroom representation, and are relied on by companies such as SATS Norge, Scandza and Avinor. Vebjorn Krag Iversen should be the first port of call for interested parties. He is a compelling litigator with no shortage of experience on which to draw.

Advokatfirmaet Thommessen AS

Thommessen is a top commercial law firm that excels across the IP board but really stands out on the contentious side, with trademark aficionados in its Oslo and Bergen offices exchanging insights to identify the best path forward. The team has recently been assisting Normann Coat on a crucial dispute with Poulsen Silkeborg ApS before the Oslo District Court and representing Fritz Hansen on notable preliminary injunction proceedings. Helming the IP offering, anti-counterfeiting whizz Camilla Vislie gives her clients a level of care comparable to that offered by a boutique firm. “She’s analytical and experienced – a true pleasure to work with. Her advice is very much appreciated by clients.”

BA-HR

“BA-HR has the knowledge and tools to advise on any IP issue. It really sets an example for how law firms should act. Its lawyers are quick and professional in everything they do and take the time to understand the mindset of the clients they are working with as well as their culture and needs. You know that the right practitioner will be placed on each matter.” The four IP partners at the firm have all-encompassing transactional expertise and routinely steer brand owners through tricky negotiations with their strategic, business-focused advice. They are also comfortable in the courtroom and recently represented Pangea Property Partners in a landmark case against the Norwegian State before the Supreme Court. This was handled by the legendary Are Stenvik; the talk of the town in Oslo, he is at the “forefront of the IP scene” and wins plaudits for his theoretical sharpness and “excellent” litigation skills.

Bryn Aarflot AS 

IP boutique Bryn Aarflot runs a tight ship with a crew of supremely accomplished practitioners. The side is at its best when building and expanding portfolios, but it has the wherewithal to tackle any IP challenge and in the last lustrum has skilfully handled a variety of trademark cases before both the lower and higher courts in Norway. “The firm is really visible in the market and well known internationally. Clients are always treated well – support is sound, efficient, hands-on and timely.” Leading the practice, Anne Wildeng is an impressive all-rounder who litigates with dexterity and has extensive experience handling technology transfers for both small Norwegian businesses and household international names. Her teammate Astrid Solberg has “been part of the game for a long time and knows what quality work looks like”. Anti-counterfeiting is her strong suit; she pursues infringers relentlessly and organises raids and confiscations with alacrity. Pål Tonna and Trine Greaker Herzog dazzle on the non-contentious side. The personable Tonna has “solid commercial knowledge and is quick to respond to emails. Working with him, you know you’re getting the best assistance possible – and at a reasonable price”. Greaker Herzog also wins plaudits for her pragmatism and client care. “She has very impressive legal know-how and never sits on anything. If a deadline is approaching and something is still missing, she will follow up with the client and remind them about it. That’s really helpful.” Both practitioners analyse situations from every angle before deciding on how best to go forward.

Kvale Advokatfirma

Fast-moving commercial law firm Kvale has a well-established reputation for its robust IP practice but is not one to rest on its laurels; during 2016 and 2017 the firm has made three significant signings in the form of Anne Marie Sejersted, Marie Vaale-Hallberg and, most recently, Ingvild Hanssen-Bauer. They have injected some fresh thinking and taken the side’s enforcement and transaction capabilities to the next level. Sejersted is a formidable litigator who is silver-tongued in the courtroom; she niftily navigates around all the obstacles in her path. Her patrons include Unilever and Moroccanoil. Armed with in-house experience, the commercially savvy Vaale-Hallberg is a cogent choice for transactional matters, but she brings much more to the table, including enforcement, regulatory and marketing knowledge; she is a veritable one-stop shop for clients. Hanssen-Bauer’s communication skills are widely lauded; not one to obfuscate, she conveys her client’s position clearly and concisely. For prosecution matters, the team sends Lars Trygve Jenssen out to bat. He oversees electronics distributor and retailer Elkjøp Nordic’s entire trademark portfolio with verve.

Onsagers AS 

“Onsagers stands out as the most progressive IP firm in Norway. Its lawyers have diverse backgrounds with experience in all kinds of industry; many have held leading positions at the Norwegian Industrial Property Office (NIPO), which is invaluable when it comes to filing.” For many brand owners, it has become the “only choice” due to the “excellent working relationships” formed with members of the squad. Ann-Cathrin Hoel wears the Onsagers captain’s armband and leads by example. She personally supervises everything that lands on her desk and is always available for a face-to-face meeting. Having worked in-house as head of intellectual property at an international pharmaceuticals manufacturer and also at a telecommunications company, she is all too familiar with business pressures. Portfolio management is her strong suit. Her teammate Eirik Rødsand specialises in all things relating to licensing and franchising. “The advice he gives in regard to commercialising IP assets is straightforward and clear cut and his negotiating skills are very impressive. He’s an extremely proficient and charismatic lawyer whose support can always be relied on.” Thomas Gaarder-Olsen brings the thunder in courtroom proceedings. One of his recent highlights saw him assisting Sandoz in a dispute with GlaxoSmithKline concerning the use of the colour purple on asthma inhalers. “He’s attentive, cost-effective and pragmatic – not someone you ever have to prompt for suggestions.”

Protector IP Consultants AS

Protector’s small size belies its formidable reputation. “It’s an impressive, ethically minded boutique that always acts in the best interest of its clients – and does so well.” Portfolio management is the firm’s bread and butter but lately it has also been building up its enforcement practice; with brand owners responding positively to this new holistic approach, its client list is becoming longer by the day. Founding partner Eli-Ann Evensen is a trademark law encyclopaedia. She has an intimate understanding of NIPO proceedings – having previously worked at the office – and the attention to detail necessary to craft infrangible applications. The forward-looking Tom Tysbo is a non-traditional marks maven and is equally comfortable establishing and defending them for his clients. Chairman of the Norwegian Anti-Counterfeiting Group, Christoffer Vedal is the bane of infringers the country over; when he has a counterfeiter in his sights, he never misses.

Schjødt

For seven years in a row the full-service Schjødt has advised on more M&A transactions than any other Norwegian law firm. Therefore, it is no surprise that its IP lawyers excel in IP transactions and technology transfers – working across the corridor from a set of vastly experienced corporate pros, they never wont for a second opinion. Dispute resolution is also a Schjødt speciality. When Halvor Manshaus takes on a mandate with one of his go-getter associates, opponents should be worried. Recently Manshaus successfully defendedFinn.no on a domain name dispute against Finnrett.no; such was the clarity and persuasiveness of his line of reasoning that Finnrett.no abandoned the case before the appeal hearing. “He’s not just the best IP lawyer in Norway – he’s the best lawyer in Norway. In addition to his rock-solid legal expertise, he has the commercial know-how to help clients realise their wider business objectives.”

Zacco 

Trademark prosecution has been a central tenet of Zacco’s IP offering since the firm’s infancy in the 1850s (then called Bryns Patentkontor), but it is also eminently capable when it comes to enforcement. Lately it has been demonstrating its experience filing new figurative trademarks for Stokke and representing the Body Shop in a dispute with the Face Shop. Thanks to a newly established media, entertainment and art practice, Zacco has also been winning new business in these domains. “It’s a top firm, one whose counsel you can always rely on; instructions are dealt with promptly and cost-effectively.” New hires Steinar Lie and Kristine Snyder both came from Bryn Aarflot and have a long history of collaborating on highly complex cases; they routinely bounce ideas off each other until they devise a solution. A recent beneficiary of their service is InterSnack – they represented it in a battle against Orkla which is now heading for the Supreme Court. “Lie is a dedicated practitioner who works long hours for his clients and has a complete command of EU case law.” Snyder complements her first-rate trademark practice with impressive competition law knowledge. Commanding the Zacco ship, Kristin Kjærheim Astrup is a go-to practitioner for filing and commercialisation issues. “She is extremely skilled and professional. What clients really appreciate is her ability to clearly elucidate all possible options, what each one would entail and what the consequences of each one might be. On top of that, she’s always quick to answer, no matter how late it is or what day of the week it is.”

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Individuals: enforcement and litigation

Individuals: prosecution and strategy