Peter Ruess

What has been your biggest professional challenge in the last 12 months, and how did you overcome it?

I will be frank – I did not believe that a team-oriented, social, but still hard-working group like the Arnold Ruess team would be able to transition smoothly from our nice office into everybody being at home and talking to tiles on a screen. Yet that is exactly what the pandemic required us to do. Even the support staff was online-only for a while. I was amazed to see how excellently that went, with no small thanks to the group. I am, however, happy we have put the days of almost total isolation behind us.

In 2022, you predicted that EU IP enforcement would continue to grow internationally and become more efficiently organised. Twelve months on, is this happening?

It is difficult to provide a quantifiable response. Some people argue that the rising numbers of seized goods is due to increased efforts, while others attribute it to increased counterfeiting. It is not even impossible that both are correct. We do certainly see rising awareness of the issue even outside the usual IP circles; fraud, economic and financial crimes are the EU’s top priorities in the fight against serious and organised crime as part of the EMPACT 2022-2025 cycle.

How have your clients’ needs evolved in response to recent global events (eg, the pandemic and economic crises), and how have you adapted your strategy to manage them?

By and large, the majority of our clients have fared relatively well. Pharma and telecom corporations remained mostly unaffected, while players in the consumer electronics and home entertainment fields have often even profited from more stay-at-home activity. Looking at branding and advertising, the online medium has become even more crucial during the pandemic (the pendulum seems to be swinging back now that everything is more or less back to normal). However, we have not seen a decline or major change in what is requested of us, but rather a shift in style. While I travelled overseas several times per year before the pandemic, I did not travel at all in 2021. The increase in video conferences is certainly an interesting development; almost every call is web-based today, which is nice because you get to see the people you talk to.

There is a growing focus on GIs from China. Do you think that this might signal the start of a more internationally harmonised approach towards these rights?

That is likely. Law is frozen politics – it does not simply happen by chance. If you look at the often divergent positions that France and the United States have on GIs, for example, it is not circumstantial. The more often that vital players have a stake in the GI game (or any topic, for that matter), the more likely it is that this topic will rise higher on the global agenda.

As a professor of law at the International School of Management in German, what advice would you give to those considering a career in IP law?

I would not want to do anything else, but that is certainly a gravely biased view. Honestly, I think you need to pick a job that you like. If you choose intellectual property because you think it pays well and your friends do it, but you feel no connection to it and would rather pursue family law, then by all means, do family law. Or no law at all if you feel a different calling. However, if intellectual property is the profession you wish to pursue, if you seem to be good at what you like and ready to put in some effort (unfortunately, this is still a career requirement in almost every profession), this is a truly rewarding path. Become active in the professional community. Intellectual property is an active and well-connected group. Join INTA, the American Intellectual Property Law Association, the German Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property or Marques and engage with your peers (no need to subscribe to every ticket, of course). Intellectual property is also international. I found my LLM from one of the United States’ leading IP programmes particularly helpful, and my now 15-year-long association with the Fordham IP Conference in New York a constant source of inspiration and ideas. Network. Go out. Find like-minded people. A first job will then come quite easily, and there are many interesting options in the field of IP law.

Peter Ruess

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Peter Ruess is a partner at Arnold Ruess and a professor of law at the International School of Management in Dortmund, Germany. He has authored and co-authored more than 70 publications and represents mid-sized to large corporate clients in trademark and unfair competition matters. Prof Dr Ruess studied law in Bayreuth, Vienna and Washington DC, where he obtained an LLM in IP law and interned with the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

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