NSN Law Firm
"Rapid advancements in technology will substantially alter the brand protection landscape"
How did you come to choose a career in intellectual property and what has been the key to your success?
I graduated from Marmara University, Faculty of Law in 1989. My interest in IP law initially began with a number of courses that I took while I was an undergraduate student. At the time, IP law was in its early stages of development in Turkey. There were not many professionals working in the field and there were even fewer professionals who could speak English. Since I always wanted to become a lawyer, I opted for a career in IP law. I believe that both my hard-working character and my ability to think outside the box and find solutions for my clients’ legal problems despite the lack of sufficient resources have helped me to excel in my career. I have been chosen among the top 250 women in intellectual property around the world.
Two of your specialisms are pharmaceuticals and life sciences, how can trademark practitioners succeed in these challenging areas?
Pharmaceuticals and life sciences are challenging areas of IP law as a certain level of technical and scientific knowledge is essential and good communication skills with not only clients but also regulatory authorities are important in order to be successful. I believe that practitioners should try to gain a certain technical knowledge, particularly relating to drugs and medical devices, and combine this knowledge with their legal experience. As these areas are highly connected with government authorities (eg, the ministries of health and food), regulatory knowledge is a must-have in order to evaluate issues from a holistic perspective.
What challenges are being raised by clients most frequently at the moment, and how can these be tackled?
We have been experiencing an increase in the number of confusingly similar trademark applications, as well as infringement activities. This increase has affected clients’ budgets as they now need to file more oppositions and court actions against infringements. We usually advise our clients to send letters to the infringers and start negotiations before initiating legal proceedings, or use regulatory remedies before approaching the authorities, which are cheaper and faster methods to solve problems, rather than undertaking long-lasting court litigation. Further, infringers usually take letters sent by Turkish lawyers seriously, as they are deemed to be the last step before legal proceedings. In addition, we are seeing increases in different types of infringement on the Internet, which is a challenging practice in terms of securing evidence and locating infringers.
What does leadership in the field of IP law look like to you?
In my opinion, a leading IP lawyer should not only focus on trademark practice but should also be able to provide clients with broader service in all areas of IP law, including copyright, design, patents, life sciences and litigation. Prosecution and litigation processes are equally important and both require a strong legal approach. A holistic approach is also a key factor that leads to leadership in IP law, as problems can be solved by using various legal and regulatory means. The key is the ability to find the cheapest, quickest and most reliable method. Since IP law is a fast-developing area, leaders should also be able to track the latest developments, including court decisions and regulatory chances, in order to provide the most up-to-date feedback to clients. A leader should also run a large and sound team in an efficient way to be able to provide high-quality service in a short timeframe and raise new talents in the IP market.
Finally, in what ways do you think the brand protection landscape will change in the next five years, and how should rights holders prepare?
I believe that rapid advancements in technology will substantially affect and alter the brand protection landscape. The products offered on the current market now fall into the scope of multiple IP rights and the traditional means of protecting IP rights are no longer fit for purpose in today’s high-tech world. Soon, data protection, regulatory measures and contractual relations will gain more importance in the field of IP law. Rights holders should prepare to be more proactive by:
- developing proactive counterfeiting prevention measures;
- using technology to detect trademark and copyright violations; and
- working with the regulatory authorities, as these can provide faster solutions and protection to a certain extent.
Senior Partner [email protected]
Selma Ünlü is a qualified trademark and patent attorney and IP litigator. She is recommended regularly by Managing Intellectual Property (MIP), WTR, IAM, the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners. She was named one of the top 250 women in intellectual property by MIP in 2017 and 2018.
She advises multinationals in portfolio management and litigation regarding all IP rights, data exclusivity and licensing, as well as life sciences regulations.