What led you to a career in trademarks and what advice would you give to younger practitioners pursuing the same?
I come from a country in which the protection and enforcement of IP rights was not as developed as it was in most European countries. For me, it was all about the challenge. I had just graduated and started working in an area that many people at the time did not have a clue about. I will never forget one situation; I was less than 30 but had already been working in the IP field for several years when I received a call from a very experienced judge to discuss an IP issue that they had come across in proceedings not related to any of our firm’s clients. I realised then that my role is not only to contribute to the firm that I have been with for the past 15 years, but also to educate people about the importance of IP rights.
My advice to younger practitioners is simple: do not just dream – dare to go after your dreams!
Why is a cross-jurisdictional strategy important in Europe and how can brand owners ensure that theirs is watertight?
We are all witnesses to the fact that borders are becoming less important, especially when it comes to the enforcement of IP rights. Sharing information and cross-jurisdictional coordination have become essential elements of brand strategy. From my experience, it is easier to implement these elements and make the strategy watertight when supported by an IP firm covering more than one jurisdiction. Therefore, brand owners should unite their agents in a way to increase collaboration between them and ultimately achieve better results in the field. Alternatively, brand owners can rely on IP firms that cover a larger number of jurisdictions. This would streamline communication between the brand owner and the firm and help to tackle upcoming challenges.
What are the key characteristics that clients look for in a trademark adviser?
This is something that is constantly evolving. When I started dealing with trademark matters in this region, one of the most important things was to provide flat fees to clients and simply be competitive. Now, clients are looking for additional things from their counsel, including business-wise advice and fees based on the value of the advice provided.
As head of legal-Serbia, what changes are you seeing in terms of IP enforcement in the region?
Generally speaking, things are getting better in the region. The legal landscape has improved in the past couple of years, as many local companies have become more aware of the importance of IP rights and the general understanding of intellectual property has improved. However, the most challenging topics remain the same: the lack of understanding of the value of IP rights among most stakeholders and the lengthy court proceedings.
Looking ahead, what do you think will be the biggest challenges facing European brands in the next few years?
The nature of challenges will change dramatically in the upcoming years. European brands will likely face IP budget constraints caused by covid-19; IP firms will need time to adjust and tailor their services to the expectations of European brand owners; a greater amount of trade will move to online platforms; and infringements will become more difficult to tackle. In addition, there are likely to be new challenges relating to the protection and enforcement of IP rights in Asia.
Vladimir Marenovic is a senior associate at Zivko Mijatovic & Partners, advising clients on all matters relating to copyright, trademarks, designs, domain names and unfair competition. Mr Marenovic is a registered agent before the Serbian IP Office, an attorney at law specialised in IP litigation, head of the legal department and an arbitrator for domain name disputes. He is a co-creator of the firm’s anti-counterfeiting strategy for the Balkans and is currently handling several groundbreaking court cases in the region.
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