Zivko Mijatovic & Partners
What has been one of your proudest achievements over the past year?
Among some of last year’s achievements, I would particularly emphasise being able to keep a positive mindset while pushing through some challenging times. The global pandemic has had – and is still having – many negative, but also many positive, effects. Remote working and a lack of daily contact with colleagues has not only reshaped my outlook of working from the office but has also motivated me to push boundaries when it comes to achieving success in times of adversity. I am proud of the new strategies that we have developed together; extraordinary circumstances inspired us to create new solutions meeting our clients’ modified needs in the most efficient manner.
You are one of the creators of ZMP’s anti-counterfeiting strategy for the Balkans. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
The Balkans’ anti-counterfeiting strategy came from the need to tackle an ever-present and ever-growing counterfeit culture in the region. By focusing on the bigger picture, rather than pinpointing the differences that each jurisdiction within the region was facing, my goal was to take a more holistic approach and to embrace their similarities in order to create a network that would allow to treat the region as a single unit. The fact that ZMP has offices in almost all Balkan countries made this task even easier. Working from Belgrade, I could reach out to the relevant state authorities in countries such as Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina or Bulgaria, all via our local offices. In the beginning, some of the strategy’s goals were to provide a one-stop shop service for clients that are unwilling to deal with separate firms in each country, while also creating a strong support network on the internal operational side. For instance, where some countries have less experience in tackling counterfeiting issues, our strategy allowed us to tap into the resources of other more experienced countries. Over the years, this strategy has not only solidified and provided consistent and tangible results but has gained the firm recognition as a pioneer and leader.
How can brand owners work with external parties such as regulatory authorities and Customs to clamp down on counterfeiting?
Participation in customs training, seminars and workshops organised by government and non-government authorities are crucial in maximising the results of anti-counterfeiting efforts. Knowledge that comes from the business side, especially concerning new piracy trends and the most efficient means of tackling them, is invaluable to these authorities. Brand owners, which often have international outreach, are well versed in the issues that are constantly arising in all four corners of the world. Consequently, it is vital that these issues, along with best solutions, are shared with the state authorities. In addition, the recent, growing trend of forming specialised IP units within the state authorities gives us a reason to be optimistic about the enforcement landscape, especially in Southeast Europe.
Which technologies/technological tools do you rely on most for your day-to-day role?
A good lawyer should always be on top of the latest developments online. Remote working has fostered the use of a number of new technologies in our daily routine. I rely on various platforms for virtual meetings, which have become necessary to keep up with clients and members of my team. We also encourage the use of AI tools in our IP practice; as well as software that enables faster, easier searches, we use various programs that simplify the selection and identification of online infringement, which has become a central topic in global IP practice.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing trademark owners protecting their rights online, and how can they be overcome?
The Internet knows no physical bounds. With so much information at our fingertips, everything suddenly seems more accessible. As a result, trademark owners are facing more and more issues involving the trade of counterfeit products online. The biggest challenge is obtaining a successful damages reimbursement against those behind these infringements. While removing infringing online content is simple, reaching the end infringer and obtaining fair compensation remain a challenge. The easy accessibility of the online market and small investments on the side of counterfeiters have resulted in an enormous number of infringements. This requires constant monitoring and significant resources to proactively protect IP rights online.
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 Intellectual Property Office of Serbia, an attorney at law specialising in IP litigation and an arbitrator in domain name disputes. He is one of the creators of the firm’s anti-counterfeiting strategy for the Balkans and is handling several groundbreaking court cases in the region.