South Africa

In May 2018 South Africa approved the first phase of a new IP policy, which is ultimately designed to give South Africans better access to quality and affordable medicines – it incentivises innovation while also promoting generic competition in the market. The immediate task is to implement the new policy effectively, but following that, plans for phase two of the policy will be set in motion; this will focus on the general promotion of creativity, trademark protection and IP licensing. South Africa is not currently a signatory to the Madrid Protocol, but the international system is a topical issue; the country is expected to join up, but there is a great deal of uncertainty over timing – practitioners say it is unlikely to happen before 2020.

Firms

  • Adams & Adams
  • Spoor & Fisher
  • Bouwers
  • ENSafrica
  • KISCH IP
  • Moore Attorneys
  • Von Seidels
  • Webber Wentzel

Adams & Adams

“Adams & Adams is the number one IP outfit in South Africa. It has a stable partnership and an excellent pool of associates – it trains people extremely well. Overall, its services are top notch.” Having 10 individuals ranked in the WTR 1000 2019 is testament to the incredible bench strength of the firm. Ascending to the gold tier this year is Darren Olivier, a “thorough lawyer who really knows his stuff, and someone who is very active in promoting intellectual property in Africa”. He has 20 years of experience encompassing private practice and in-house roles and is a jack – and master – of all brand-related trades. When it comes to litigation and enforcement, patrons are spoilt for choice; any one of Jenny Pienaar, Godfrey Budeli, Kelly Thompson, Gérard du Plessis, Dale Healy or Steven Yeates make a great anchor for complex suits in which only a win will do. Head of the litigation section Pienaar capitalises on an excellent network of contacts to ensure swift cross-border enforcement; Budeli provides assured leadership to the anti-counterfeiting practice; experienced litigator Thompson blends leading advertising law expertise into her brands practice; chairman du Plessis has deep litigation experience which enables him to manage portfolios with great foresight; Healy has emerged victorious for blue-chip companies in all types of trademark dispute; and Yeates is a multitalented lawyer with expertise in copyright litigation, anti-counterfeiting and non-contentious aspects of trademark practice. Prosecution clients also have plenty of options; taking the reins of the practice is Simon Brown, who routinely surpasses the expectations of marquee multinationals such as Google and AB InBev; Lucy Signorelli, who transferred to the prosecution group in 2018 having previously served on the litigation front, specialises in recordals; and Eugene Honey is the go-to for IP commercialisation proficiency.

Bouwers

Entering its 15th year in 2019, Bouwers has established itself as a commercial and internationally oriented IP boutique with clients and a referral network which spans the globe. The set manages large portfolios in a technically sophisticated and efficient way, but also brings the heat in litigious scenarios. The backbone of the unit is Deon Bouwer, a versatile and experienced litigator and prosecutor.

ENSafrica

ENSafrica is a commercial powerhouse with the resources and know how to tackle the most challenging and pressing IP matters. With a string of offices across Southern, Western and Eastern Africa, as well as Mauritius, it offers unparalleled coverage across the continent to its clients; rich experience across Africa enables it to accurately assess risk and maximise opportunity in often unpredictable settings. IP department head Gaelyn Scott is “the glue that keeps everything together. She handles a large volume of complex contentious matters and has a glowing reputation for excellence which is well deserved”. Top team members include experienced portfolio manager and IP monetisation ace Ilse du Plessis and international brand strategy and commercialisation mastermind Waldo Steyn.

KISCH IP

Historic firm KISCH IP displays not just a passion for intellectual property, but also for economic growth and social development in Africa, which makes it more than just a legal service provider. In its core role as a trademark and IP protector, the set is active across the continent and dispenses assured advice to patrons wherever they go. Setting the high standards which the team never fails to live up to is head of trademarks Nola Bond. Active on both sides of the contentious/non-contentious divide, as well as in copyright law, advertising and domain names, she provides her clients with the big picture. A “phenomenal attorney who works like a machine”, Vicky Stilwell is another adept all-rounder. Lisa McIlwaine-Hill is the top specialist in terms of international prosecution and litigation and captains the foreign trademark department. Vanessa Ferguson is hailed as “one of the best lawyers for anti-counterfeiting matters in Africa”. “Up and coming in litigation and enforcement” Andrew Papadopoulos impresses as a “hard fighter but also a collegial and professional advocate”.

Moore Attorneys

Multi-award-winning Moore Attorneys focuses on problem solving; its attorneys think creatively and devise impactful strategies. The ensemble has been truly on a roll in the past 18 months and has attracted several major new clients, giving it cause to recruit new attorneys and make internal promotions. Managing partner Shane Moore and Tyrone Walker are performing optimally in their respective roles as managing partner and head of litigation and brand enforcement. The dynamic duo operate efficiently as a unit and scored a major coup when Diageo instructed them to take over its portfolio, strategy, prosecution and renewals work for South Africa Swaziland and Lesotho; Bridgestone Corporation also transferred its South African portfolio over to the team. Moore is a pragmatist who gets results; he deftly separates the wheat from the chaff and can efficiently oversee large projects, a recent example being protecting AON’s new logo and slogan as trademarks throughout Africa. As a litigator, Walker also gets straight down to business. He is a leading authority on domain names.

Spoor & Fisher

“The attorneys at Spoor & Fisher have an outstanding technical skill set; they also understand their clients’ business objectives and put in place the best IP solutions to help realise them. The organisation’s administration is extremely efficient and it continually introduces new value-adding services.” On deck are specialists for just about every occasion, which instils 100% confidence in clients. When it comes to litigation, there are many seasoned attorneys, including Charles Webster, Carl van Rooyen, John Foster and Megan Reimers. A repository of trust for famous brands, Webster fights hard but understands that litigation is just a tool to achieve a commercial end; van Rooyen is an authority on matters at the intersection of IP and unfair competition law; Foster maintains prosecution and commercialisation practices alongside his litigation docket; and focusing on litigation, advertising complaints and domain name disputes, Reimers is “commercially attuned”, which makes her a trusted adviser to marquee companies in any circumstance. Mohamed Khader is in the driver’s seat when it comes to anti-counterfeiting. “He has an outstanding knowledge of enforcement issues and is super responsive and a pleasure to partner with. He is well supported by a team of highly professional associates.” Go-to names for prosecution and portfolio management include Jean McIvor and Kay Rickelman, both of whom garner glowing feedback from the marketplace: “Jean handles all instructions in the most professional manner and gives regular updates on progress. She furnishes you with comprehensive reports which give you the information required to make smart decisions.” “Kay is an eminently reliable practitioner and skilled tactician who is great at resolving stick disputes. She is practical and highly responsive.” Stephen Goldberg also produces error-free prosecution work. A number of Spoor & Fisher’s partners are best labelled as all-around IP connoisseurs. Falling into this camp are Eben van Wyk and Louise Myburgh; van Wyk is an advertising guru who litigates, prosecutes and commercialises IP with dexterity; and Myburgh is a high-level strategist who is ready for deployment on any matter.

Von Seidels

“Von Seidels has a very proactive attitude and nets scores of successes; it also has an outstanding reputation for professionalism and expertise.” Well known for efficiency and quality, the side has the distinction of being the only IP firm in Africa that is ISO 90001-certified. Effusive client feedback abounds for several of the practitioners here: “Hugo Prinsloo goes above and beyond the brief at all times. The quality of his work is exceptional, and he is a pleasure to deal with.” A contentious specialist, Prinsloo is the person to call when in a bind. He has finely honed litigation instincts and knows just what to do whatever twist or turn a case takes. Simonne Moodie is “a highly skilled trademark attorney who deserves all the recognition she gets. She is efficient, reliable and practical and keeps her clients’ best interests in mind, she is definitely the go-to for prosecution in South Africa.” Additional high-level contacts in this well-built group are Christine Strutt and Claire Brown. Strutt leads and motivates the trademark team and is an expert on brands and copyright law; she is a discerning choice for IP protection issues in the digital domain. Brown is distinguished by her pan-African proficiency and takes charge of prosecution and other matters across the region.

Webber Wentzel

Celebrated full-service firm Webber Wentzel – which turned 150 years old in 2018 – employs an interdisciplinary scheme of thinking to solve brand-related conundrums; its IP maestros are well-connected with their commercial, tax and competition law colleagues in a structure that promotes collaboration. Clients always know who to call with respect to trademark needs as each has a single point of contact with 360-degree knowledge of their portfolio. Bernadette Versfeld and Leanne Mostert supervise many of the biggest multinational clients. Versfeld is an IP devotee who is there when you need her at every point of a brand’s lifecycle; she has outstanding litigation chops too. Lately she has been advising Emirates on trademark strategy and prosecution throughout Africa and representing Facebook in several enforcement matters. Mostert is a leading light on trademark and IP transactions and contracts, and the country’s top expert on IP exchange control matters.

Other recommended experts

Vanessa Lawrance of Hahn & Hahn is a great choice for concise and frank advice on IP matters. She sees to contentious and contractual trademark issues quickly and cost-effectively.

Individuals: anti-counterfeiting

  • Godfrey Budeli - Adams & Adams
  • Vanessa Ferguson - KISCH IP
  • Mohamed Khader - Spoor & Fisher

Individuals: enforcement and litigation

  • Deon Bouwer - Bouwers
  • Darren T Olivier - Adams & Adams
  • Gaelyn Scott - ENSafrica
  • Charles Webster - Spoor & Fisher
  • Gérard du Plessis - Adams & Adams
  • Mohamed Khader - Spoor & Fisher
  • Louise Myburgh - Spoor & Fisher
  • Jenny Pienaar - Adams & Adams
  • Lucy Signorelli - Adams & Adams
  • Kelly Thompson - Adams & Adams
  • Carl van Rooyen - Spoor & Fisher
  • Eben van Wyk - Spoor & Fisher
  • John Foster - Spoor & Fisher
  • Dale Healy - Adams & Adams
  • Vanessa Lawrance - Hahn & Hahn Inc
  • Hugo Prinsloo - Von Seidels
  • Megan Reimers - Spoor & Fisher
  • Waldo Steyn - ENSafrica
  • Bernadette Versfeld - Webber Wentzel
  • Tyrone Walker - Moore Attorneys
  • Steven Yeates - Adams & Adams

Individuals: prosecution and strategy

  • Nola Bond - KISCH IP
  • Claire Brown - Von Seidels
  • Simon Brown - Adams & Adams
  • Ilse du Plessis - ENSafrica
  • Stephen Goldberg - Spoor & Fisher
  • Eugene Honey - Adams & Adams
  • Lisa McIlwaine-Hill - KISCH IP
  • Jean McIvor - Spoor & Fisher
  • Simonne Moodie - Von Seidels
  • Shane Moore - Moore Attorneys
  • Leanne Mostert - Webber Wentzel
  • Louise Myburgh - Spoor & Fisher
  • Darren T Olivier - Adams & Adams
  • Andrew Papadopoulos - KISCH IP
  • Kay Rickelman - Spoor & Fisher
  • Lucy Signorelli - Adams & Adams
  • Waldo Steyn - ENSafrica
  • Vicky Stilwell - KISCH IP
  • Christine Strutt - Von Seidels
  • Eben van Wyk - Spoor & Fisher
  • Bernadette Versfeld - Webber Wentzel

South Africa: The Bar

Other recommended experts

Senior counsel

Lionel Bowman SC is a mainstay of Circle Chambers and a beacon of light for the toughest cases. Group One’s Philip Ginsburg SC is well-versed in trademarks, but also possesses granular knowledge on copyright, patent and designs law. Bank Chambers is home to Derek Harms SC, a gifted litigator whose incisive advice gets brand owners out of tight spots. Club Chambers courtroom virtuoso Reinard Michau SC is always one step ahead of his adversaries. Cedric Puckrin SC of Circle Chambers has extensive trial experience and is widely considered to be one of the most persuasive oral advocates. Ronée Robinson SC of Island Group is quick on her feet in court. Trademarks are meat and drink for Owen Salmon SC. Not siloed to his specialism, he is also a reference point for domain name cases. He calls The Maisels Group home. Huguenot Chambers’ Alasdair Sholto-Douglas SC is a no-brainer for any high-stakes commercial, competition or IP dispute.

Junior counsel

Paola Cirone never loses her cool and has a pragmatic mindset. She works out of Group One. Circle Chambers’ Ilse Joubert is widely regarded as a leading junior for trademark litigation. Gavin Marriott of Group One excels at constructing and delivering impactful arguments when under immense trial pressure. IP aficionado Fiona Southwood handles complex spats with poise over at Group One. Barbara Vaughan of Huguenot Chambers blends her IP and business knowledge to great effect.

Junior counsel

  • Paola Cirone - Group One
  • Ilse Joubert - Circle Chambers
  • Gavin Marriott - Group One
  • Fiona Southwood - Group One
  • Barbara Vaughan - Huguenot Chambers

Senior counsel

  • Lionel Bowman SC - Circle Chambers
  • Philip Ginsburg SC - Group One
  • Derek Harms SC - Bank Chambers
  • Reinard Michau SC - Club Chambers
  • Cedric Puckrin SC - Circle Chambers
  • Ronée Robinson SC - Island Group
  • Owen Salmon SC - The Maisels Group
  • Alasdair Sholto-Douglas SC - Huguenot Chambers