You are both a qualified barrister at law and a European trademark and design attorney. What skills have you developed in these roles that have been paramount to a successful career in IP law?
IP law is a dynamic field – you have to love a challenge and relish change. Having the readiness to constantly improve yourself and adapt to new conditions is essential for success. Being creative, responsive and pragmatic is vital for responding to clients’ needs. I am driven by a genuine passion for the diversity that intellectual property offers – the diversity of interests, legal questions, industries and of course the people that it gathers. My experience shows that the cornerstones of a successful career are excellence in knowledge, eagerness for a challenge and empathy. Being able to recognise people’s needs and in particular their potential and capabilities is a valuable skill, especially when you are expected to assist clients in the best way possible.
ZMP has a strong network of offices throughout Europe. As managing partner, how do you ensure that the highest quality work is maintained across all regions?
It is simple – the strength of our team comes from the greatness of the people that it gathers. It takes a special effort to carefully select these people and then constantly invest in their development; this is definitely one of our core values. The crucial part is to determine the company structure and then appoint strong leaders to key positions. Working closely with each other, our practitioners cooperate on a variety of multi-jurisdictional matters; therefore, it is important to achieve a balanced level of expertise and quality. Our firm’s culture is of utmost importance to all of us. In addition, we strongly encourage our experts to participate in different educational programmes and to strive to achieve the highest standards of practice in their respective jurisdictions, as well as to share that practice with their colleagues throughout the ZMP network.
How have client demands changed during the course of your career and how has your practice adapted to this?
With the expansion of the global economy, the IP world has grown significantly. Client expectations are now higher – they need not only high-quality services, but also quick advice. Thinking outside the box and providing a business-tailored solution is now a necessity, not an extra. We always strive to set new standards of service, rather than adapting to the same. This requires an incredibly careful selection of extraordinary people who can generate as much creativity and draw on as much experience as possible, while at the same time providing the best possible value to our clients.
What recent developments should brand owners be aware of when looking to protect IP rights in Central and Eastern Europe?
There are two important factors to consider, especially when it comes to Eastern Europe. IP awareness in the region is increasing rapidly. The importance of IP protection has finally become a standard, and this is something that has changed significantly throughout the past decade. In addition, the process of harmonising IP laws in non-EU countries is nearly complete. This is pertinent as most of the gaps in the scope of IP protection have now been eliminated, meaning that there is now, finally, a unified standard of protection. The next step should be to enhance the efficiency of the local enforcement authorities, but overall we are very optimistic about the future of IP protection in this region.
What practical steps can IP experts take to prepare for the uncertain future ahead?
The expansion of the software industry, as well as AI, will certainly affect the IP world. IP practitioners will have to take the lead and adapt to these new realities, so improving digital technology skills is important. We should remain up to date on new trends and stay connected, both by participating in programmes and events organised by industry organisations and through individual learning projects. Ultimately, I believe that there is no need to see the future as uncertain – we are the ones who are shaping it; therefore, we should focus on diversity, improvement and advancement in the IP realm.
Djura Mijatović is a managing partner at Zivko Mijatovic & Partners (ZMP). He is a qualified barrister at law and European trademark and design attorney. For the past 20 years he has specialised in the protection and enforcement of trademarks in Eastern and Central Europe, as well as in the European Union. As managing partner, he oversees the work of the entire network of ZMP offices throughout Europe.
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