Trademarks, Brands & Designs

Global

Your brands are the face of your organisation. They embody your reputation and reputation is everything. With over 100 years' experience in the field, we understand the critical importance of your branding needs and deliver the highest level of practical, creative advice.

From conception and development through to exploitation and enforcement, Gowling WLG works with clients on all facets of branding, including trademarks, designs, copyright, domain names, licensing and enforcement.

Directly through our offices in Canada, Russia, China and the UAE, as well as through our extensive network of trusted international associates, we expertly clear new marks, strategically manage local and international portfolios, and secure registered rights in a manner that is both commercially practical and cost-effective.

Our professionals offer you unparalleled experience in trademark and design enforcement, including opposition proceedings, infringement, cancellations and invalidations, passing off, dilution, anti-counterfeiting, trans-shipping and parallel import matters. We regularly appear before all levels of court in the UK, Europe, Russia, China and Canada, and manage and co-ordinate litigation in other jurisdictions.

Our industry expertise is boundless, and includes an array of both internationally famous and local brands covering everything from consumer goods to financial services.

Above all, we shape our service to match your needs. We don't take a one-size-fits-all approach, but work with you to tailor strategies and fee arrangements that best suit your business.

From helping startups devise a cost-effective protection strategy, to spearheading leading cases, to managing global trademark, design and copyright enforcement programs across multiple continents, you can be sure we have the experience to help you in the most appropriate way.

Our team serves as trusted advisers to some of the most valuable brands in the world and can assist you with all of your branding legal needs. Please get in touch with any member of our group to learn how we can help you.

Canada

Trademarks, brands and designs are key assets for any business in Canada. Developing a strategy, clearing use, obtaining registration, and ensuring effective protection and exploitation of these assets are essential components to your success.

Gowling WLG's internationally renowned, award-winning team of trademark professionals has a long-standing reputation as the go-to firm for organizations seeking trademark and branding advice, and is the largest group of its kind in Canada.

We consistently file more trademark applications and have more registrations under management than any other Canadian firm, which speaks to the experience and trust our clients have in us to deliver the highest level of practical, effective advice. We understand the challenges and opportunities of brand management, and apply legal expertise and commercial insight to your advantage.

Industry-specific experience

Our industry expertise is vast, and includes an array of global and local brands covering consumer goods, food and beverage, retail and professional services, chemical, manufacturing, technology, and financial services, among others. We also hold a deep understanding of the issues facing pharmaceutical brands, including clearance, regulatory approvals, look alike/sound alike issues, trans-shipping and online sales, and protection of get-up and infringement issues.

Comprehensive brand strategy

From conception and development through to exploitation and enforcement, our group has the necessary experience and expertise in all facets of branding, from trademarks through to designs, copyright, domain names, licensing and enforcement.

Trademark clearance

Whether locally, regionally or internationally, we can assist you in clearing the use and registration of new brands across all business spectrums.

Trademark registration and portfolio management

Directly through our offices in Canada, Russia and China, and through a network of trusted firms in other jurisdictions, we have the experience and tools to seek registration of your trademarks and manage your portfolio in a manner that's both commercially practical and cost-effective.

Trademark enforcement and anti-counterfeiting

We hold unparalleled experience in trademark enforcement, including opposition proceedings, infringement, passing off, dilution, anti-counterfeiting, trans-shipping and parallel import matters. We regularly appear before all levels of court in Canada, and manage and co-ordinate litigation files in international jurisdictions.

Domain name disputes

We have extensive experience acting on domain name disputes before WIPO, Nominet and CIRA.

Licensing and IP transactional work

We can work with you to maximize brand exploitation through licensing and sales, and will collaborate seamlessly with our corporate colleagues on your IP and due diligence issues in multifaceted commercial transactions.

Germany

From clearance and strategic portfolio advice through to exploitation and enforcement, our Munich team works with clients on all facets of branding, including trademarks, designs, copyright, domain names, both contentious and non-contentious. We recently won an important case in the FMCG industry, thus helping our client to protect their trademark portfolio significantly.

Russia

Trademarks, brands and designs are key assets for your business. To make the most of them, you need to develop a strategy: clearing use, obtaining registration, and ensuring effective protection and exploitation of these assets. In Russia, where you may be unfamiliar with intellectual property (IP) laws, these are essential components to your success.

Our team of trademark professionals has a long-standing reputation as the go-to firm for organisations seeking trademark and branding advice. Based in Moscow, we cover the entire CIS region (all former USSR countries) by either filing directly via our own Eurasian attorneys or through the network of our carefully selected foreign associate firms.

Areas we cover include:

  • Domain name disputes
  • Licensing and IP transactional work
  • Trademark clearance
  • Trademark enforcement and anti-counterfeiting
  • Trademark registration & portfolio management

We take pride in not only delivering outstanding, practical legal advice, but also exceptional client service and value. This is reflected in the personal, responsive service we provide, in the innovative, tailored solutions we create, and in our commitment to giving you the best possible value for your legal spend.

Learn more

We partner with many of the world's leading organisations to create and execute thoughtful, effective branding strategies. Let's work together to make your assets work for you.

UAE

Trademarks, brands and designs are key assets for your business. To make the most of them, you need to develop a strategy: developing protectable assets and products, clearing use, obtaining registration, and ensuring effective protection and exploitation of these assets. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, these are essential components to your success as the region is built on licensed/franchised rights.

To assist you in the region, you will need a team which has the expert local knowledge to provide solutions in the MENA region, as well as the global reach to position and maximise your intellectual property (IP) assets.

Our team of IP professionals, based in our MENA hub office in the UAE, has significant experience through the region. As one of Gowling WLG's newest IP teams, the MENA IP team is fast establishing a reputation as the go-to firm for organisations seeking trademark, branding and designs advice in the MENA region.

Areas we cover include:

  • Domain name protection, retrievals and disputes, including related strategies
  • Licensing, franchising and IP transactional work
  • Trademark and design audits
  • Trademark and design protection and enforcement strategies
  • Trademark and design development and clearance
  • Trademark and design enforcement and anti-counterfeiting
  • Trademark and design registration & portfolio management
  • Trademark and design litigation
  • Local branding and localisation to respect cultural aspects of doing business in the MENA region

We take pride in not only delivering outstanding, practical legal advice, but also exceptional client service and value. This is reflected in the personal, responsive service we provide, in the innovative, tailored solutions we create, and in our commitment to giving you the best possible value for your legal spend.

Learn more

We partner with many of the world's leading organisations to create and execute thoughtful, effective branding and design strategies. Let's work together to make your assets work for you.

UK

Brands and designs are key assets for any business. Developing a strategy, clearing use, obtaining registration, and ensuring effective protection and exploitation of these assets are essential components to your success.

Gowling WLG's internationally renowned, award-winning team of trademark professionals has a long-standing reputation as the go-to firm for organisations seeking trademark, branding and design advice.

Our expertise, experience and the trust our clients have in us allows the firm to deliver the highest level of practical, effective advice. We understand the challenges and opportunities of brand management, and apply legal expertise and commercial insight to your advantage.

Brands

A strong brand is a key asset in any successful business. Developing a brand strategy, ensuring it is effectively protected and exploited, and knowing when and how to protect the brand from attack allow the brand and its value to thrive.

Our 12-strong specialist UK team combines a commercial and tactical approach to help our clients' brands work harder. Whether in the initial stages of conception and development or in enforcement of a mature and established brand, we enable clients to reduce risk and maximise brand potential.

Led by Kate Swaine, our team delivers a comprehensive brands service, with expertise in trademarks, designs, copyright, domain names, confidential information, trade secrets and licensing.

We understand the challenges and opportunities of brand management and apply legal expertise and commercial insight to our clients' advantage.

Experience

  • Our work has covered an extensive range of products and services - innovative software solutions, high end lighting and furniture, children's dinosaur sets, carpets, steel panels, ice cream, aircraft seats and false moustaches to name but a few. Getting to know our clients inside out is a priority for the team to ensure client portfolios are commercially relevant, appropriately protected and effectively exploited;
  • Helping our clients get the most from their brands by advising on brand clearance from an early stage, in order to minimise the risk of future exposure and to maximise the potential strength of the brand;
  • Advising global businesses with global brands. Our team can be found helping North American companies adopt and exploit their brands in Europe, guiding the development of Europe-wide brand portfolios, advising the UK's top businesses on rebranding strategies and confidentiality policies or managing global enforcement programmes, and developing effective international approaches to common IP issues in conjunction with our offices in important IP jurisdictions such as China, Singapore, Dubai and Moscow;
  • Working on high-profile trademark infringement cases, using expertise to handle complex trademark cases with a record of success in the High Court. We acted for Comic Enterprises, the owner of the Glee Club comedy and music group, in its battle with 20th Century Fox and succeeded in a claim for trademark infringement. We have secured significant, successful judgments for household names such as Hasbro, Unilever and Kingspan;
  • Offering clients a brands audit service to help them get their houses in order and offer in-house training to support client's brand strategies and ensure that the business is consistent in its approach. A key limb of our service it to ensure that the business is not spending more on its IP than it needs to, whilst ensuring it is doing enough to be effective;
  • Acting on domain name disputes through World Intellectual Property Organisation or Nominet, enforcing in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court and developing cost-effective, repeat enforcement strategies for clients, to ensure that responses are proportionate and commercial; and
  • Secondments to companies such as Aston Martin, Marks & Spencer and Hasbro; working closely with in-house design teams such as Mothercare; and undertaking holiday cover for Iglo Foods Group and others; the team understands the issues clients face on a day-to-day basis and has significant experience of the importance of making a clear and sensible recommendation that works commercially.

With team members in Paris and Munich, we are able to advise clients not only on their UK brand strategy and management but on Europe wide issues. With teams across Canada, and in the UAE, Russia, China and Singapore that we work with day in, day out, we understand the global issues raised by manufacturing, import and export and brand exploitation across the world.

In partnership with our own offices and those of our wider network we conduct successful international enforcement addressing infringements in over 50 countries worldwide for numerous clients.

We are members of, and in many cases on policy committees of, the British Brands Group, the International Trade Mark Association, the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys, Marques and the Pharmaceutical Trade Marks Group which ensures we are up to date on the latest issues.

We produce and distribute regular alerts and hold an annual seminar addressing the latest issues affecting brands owners.

Designs

Designs are becoming an increasingly popular way to stop infringers. However, while registered designs can be cheap and quick to acquire, the choices available and the protection they offer can be confusing.

Our design law experts, led by John Coldham, help clients understand the differences between the various rights and the advantages and disadvantages of each. We work with our clients to secure the best portfolio for their needs and ensure that it is exploited effectively.

If clients then experience infringement of their rights, our team has significant experience of enforcing designs at every level, from informal resolution through correspondence to major litigation in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC), the High Court or the Court of Appeal.

Our market-leading design law specialists have acted on some of the most significant cases in the area. The team does not consider it sufficient simply to know the law inside out; it also focuses on what is important for its clients to achieve their commercial objectives. Every client's needs are different, and so our advice is focused and relevant to meet those needs.

The team's experience has been enhanced by secondments with design-focused clients including Aston Martin, Dyson and Marks and Spencer. This insight allows our experts to provide the very best commercial advice with practical solutions.

Experience

Our expertise includes:

  • Experience of conducting and winning design right cases across the different courts, from lower value cases in the IPEC to the more substantial ones in the High Court, as well as significant experience of litigating designs in the Court of Appeal. For example:
    • The team led Dyson to a landmark victory at the Court of Appeal against spare parts manufacturer Qualtex in a ground-breaking judgment that is widely considered to be one of the major cases in design right law. The team also acted for Dyson against Vax in another leading Court of Appeal judgment;
    • In the High Court, the team has a number of successes to its name. These include John Coldham and Paul Inman's major unregistered design right victory for G-Star Raw, with an award of indemnity costs in G-Star's favour, and Kate Swaine's notable success in the Virgin v Premium (now Zodiac) case, which required an in-depth understanding and analysis of aircraft seat design and the regulatory constraints it operates within; and
    • In the IPEC, the team won a design right case for longstanding client Kohler Mira against Bristan, concerning the design of electric showers. The case resulted in one of the highest ever damages awards in the court since it was reformed in 2010.
  • Advising on the exploitation of design rights through licensing and assignments, both in the UK and internationally;
  • Advising on concept development and running training for designs teams;
  • Helping avoid IP infringement, covering in-house holiday leave, and providing clearance hotlines for clients which highlight potential risks, all of which ultimately reduce issues and expenses;
  • Operating brand enforcement programmes that often avoid the need for legal proceedings altogether. Our team has a clear track record of achieving strong settlements between design right holders and infringers before any significant legal costs have been incurred; and
  • Providing regular updates and seminars to our client base on design law developments and case law, and hosting a major seminar as part of the London Design Festival in London every September.

International reach

Clients benefit from the team's international reach, providing advice on rights in the UK and at manufacturing bases across the globe.

With dedicated IP teams across several international offices including China, France, Germany and in the UK, as well as close ties with an established network of trusted firms in other jurisdictions, our team handles strategic and enforcement issues that span the globe.

An example of this international work includes high profile success in protecting Dyson's Air Multiplier™ fan design. A large number of cases have been fought and won in China, as well as in over 50 other jurisdictions around the world, all managed by a single team which has pursued over 1,000 infringers of the rights in the fan to date.

Clients range from the industrial to consumer products, clothing and fashion including Dyson, G-Star Raw, Hasbro, Joseph Joseph, Aston Martin, Kohler Mira, Mothercare and the Early Learning Centre, Kingspan Group, Unilever and ZEO.