What is your greatest professional achievement to date?
I have always been a part of ‘firsts’ in Turkey. Early in my career, I was invited to work with my Dutch mentor, whom I helped to establish one of the first IP departments in a general-service law firm in Turkey. I learned the process step by step, including refining ideas, creating business structures, managing budgets, embracing challenges and celebrating successes. I adopted an eclectic approach combining Turkish flexibility and Dutch discipline.
Capitalising on this unique experience, I moved to my current firm, where I created my own team and established one of the largest IP-dedicated practices in a full-service Turkish law firm.
My solidarity with women is reflected in my efforts at their empowerment, a reciprocation of the support they have offered to me. The fabric of our IP team says it all. It comprises 15 associates and trademark attorneys - nine of whom are women - led by five female partners: Gökçe İzgi and Ezgi Baklacı Gülkokar have been working with me for 17 years, and Yonca Çelebi and Ece Berkman for more than 10 years.
What emerging trends or technologies are having the biggest impact on your clients’ IP strategies?
The pandemic forced many businesses to move online. Therefore, we developed strategies to protect their IP rights in this sphere, which is more difficult than the traditional setting in terms of recording evidence and proceedings. Now, online retailers and platforms are more responsive to takedown notices and more cooperative even without court orders.
The fast-paced evolution of technology makes it harder to register and enforce trademarks. Our strategies evolve at the same pace to address the novel challenges.
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, in addition to top-notch services, we offer cost-effective fee structures and cater to our clients’ IP needs by considering their business structure and market position. Also, we are actively involved in IP events and regularly publish content to share our updated knowledge and contribute to the development of the legal industry.
What are the main challenges that brand owners in Turkey face when it comes to trademark protection?
Counterfeiting is the primary challenge brand owners in Turkey face. According to a joint EUIPO-EUROPOL report, Turkey is the third most common country of provenance for most IP-infringing goods. The vast majority of these are produced locally, while Turkey is also a transit point for counterfeit items headed for Europe. We help clients to proactively detect infringement and protect their brands in Turkey.
As Turkey is not in the European Union, some of the regulations remain local, so enforcement becomes increasingly important.
How are diversity and inclusion promoted at your firm, and why do they matter?
Increasing diversity at Moroğlu Arseven begins at the hiring stage. We do not collect data on applicants’ ethnic backgrounds, religions or gender identities.
Gender diversity and inclusion are ingrained in our company culture. Women comprise 70% of our firm and outnumber men 10-to-four at partner-level positions. This is remarkable in Turkey, which has made tremendous but insufficient progress towards becoming a gender-equitable society.
If our diversity efforts end with hiring, our focus on inclusion begins there. We associate inclusion more with retention than recruitment and spare no efforts to achieve it. For instance, new mothers have 16 weeks of maternity leave, and their bonus is calculated regardless of how many work days they miss. Paternity leave is also available to new fathers.
Another key to promoting inclusion is fostering belonging. At Moroğlu Arseven, training and mentoring programmes are at the heart of this. We provide coaching to staff when they move up the career ladder. We also believe that caring about our staff’s mental health will bolster their sense of belonging, therefore boosting inclusion.
The primary reason why diversity matters at our firm is trust. When staff members see that we care about all of our employees and do our best to improve their careers and private lives, they feel safe. This feeling is our ultimate objective, and it enhances efficacy and productivity. Ultimately, when the firm thrives, its continuous efforts towards staff development are guaranteed. We intend to create internal rolemodels and set an example for the wider legal sector. Once our attempts come to fruition, the country will be more livable for all Turkish citizens.
Işık Özdoğan leads Moroglu Arseven’s IP team. She has a global reputation for advising clients on counselling, strategy, prosecution, enforcement, litigation, transactions and regulatory issues. She also represents local, foreign and multinational clients on trademarks, industrial designs, patents, copyrights, domain names and seizures of counterfeits. Ms Özdoğan’s work spans many sectors, including fashion, retail, hospitality chains and software. She manages IP portfolios for several multinational companies in Turkey, often on a long-term basis.