What is your greatest professional achievement to date?
Throughout my career, I have always been part of ‘firsts’ in Turkey. In the first years of my career, I was invited to work with my Dutch mentor Lidy-Anne Jeswiet- van Westenbrugge, who was then living in Turkey. I had the opportunity to support her in the process of establishing one of the first IP departments in a general-service law firm in Turkey. I learned the step-by-step establishment process, including refining ideas, creating business structures, managing budgets, embracing challenges and, of course, celebrating the success. I adopted a mixed business approach, combining Turkish flexibility and business doing with Dutch discipline and business mindedness.
Capitalising on this unique experience and approach, I moved to my current firm Moroğlu Arseven where I created my own team and established an IP department, which is one of the largest IP-dedicated practices within a full-service law firm in Turkey.
During my journey, I have both been supported by and given support to women’s solidarity and empowerment. Today, I proudly lead a team of 16 associates and trademark and patent attorneys — 14 of whom are women. Two other IP partners, Gökçe Izgi and Ezgi Baklaci Gulkokar, have worked with me for more than 15 years.
What emerging trends or technologies are having the biggest impact on your clients’ IP strategies?
A great number of retailers moved from brick and mortar to e-commerce due to covid-19 lockdowns. In response, we developed IP strategies to provide full protection to our clients online. We also hosted an INTA roundtable related to online protection, which has always been more difficult than traditional protection in terms of the recording of evidence as well as proceedings. However, post-covid, online retailers and e-commerce platforms are more willing to support law firms. They tend to follow takedown procedures, and even cooperate with us without needing a court order.
In addition, today’s technological revolution (especially the fourth industrial revolution, ‘Industry 4.0’), makes it harder for businesses to register and enforce trademarks because changing technology has made it more difficult to classify products. Our IP strategy evolves hand-in-hand with these developments.
The current legal services landscape is competitive and high-quality legal work is considered a minimum. How do you add value for clients in such an environment?
At Moroğlu Arseven, we always ensure high-quality work products while trying to offer cost-effective fee structures for our clients. While doing that, we consider the clients’ business structure and market position, and then develop IP strategies from the very beginning to suit their unique needs.
We also regularly contribute to industry events and produce publications. In this way, we not only share our skills and expertise, but also support the development of the industry. This also sets us apart from local competitors.
What are the main challenges that brand owners in Turkey face when it comes to trademark protection?
Counterfeiting is the number one challenge that brands owners are facing in Turkey. The European Commission – EUIPO Report named Turkey as the third country of provenance for counterfeit goods. A high volume of counterfeit goods is originating locally, and these local fakes combine with flows of counterfeit products transiting from east to west, which attempt to use Turkey to enter the European market. We assist our clients to proactively detect infringement and protect brands in Turkey.
In addition, not being a part of the European Union causes some of the regulations applied in Turkey to remain local. Therefore, enforcement becomes more and more important.
As we hopefully emerge from the pandemic, what changes to the industry and/or working practice do you think are here to stay?
Turkey was already working on digitalisation in the judicial system over the last years, and the covid-19 pandemic accelerated the process even more. Currently, we are able to work in any place, any time, which improves efficiency and effectiveness. We permanently adopted a hybrid working model.
On the other hand, we have really enjoyed getting back to attending industry events and meeting our clients and peers all around the world.
In order to develop and adopt a new hybrid workplace policy, our firm worked on different employee motivation models, including a mentoring system for the new hires. We also hold weekly meetings to prevent any miscommunication and disruption in information flow. During the last two years, a number of associates, trademark and patent attorneys and finance specialists joined our team, and we all are still together, which is a sign of the success of our integration methodology.
Işık Özdoğan, with over 26 years of experience, leads the IP team of Moroğlu Arseven, an Istanbul-based, independent full-service law firm established in 2000. She is a specialist in IP, with a global reputation for advising clients on all aspects of counselling, strategy, prosecution, enforcement, litigation, transactions and regulatory issues. She supports a broad portfolio of high-profile companies and IP rights owners, at all stages of establishing, commercialising and protecting their assets in Turkey.