IP professionals merger : inside and outside views

While in France arises the question of a possible merger between Lawyers and Industrial Property Attorneys, we found interesting to interview French and foreign Lawyers to know better about their scope of action and to have their opinion about this new situation to come. Mrs Anne-Marie PECORARO, Lawyer in Paris and Mr Ian BARTLETT Lawyer in London accepted to answer to our questions:

INLEX: Please tell us about you and your law firm in few words:

Ian BARTLETT: I graduate as a barrister in 1985 but my everyday practice is similar to what a trademark attorney do. I am now the partner and the head of the trade mark department of this firm.I have a particularly strong practice in the entertainment and publishing field and represent such well known groups as The 3 Tenors, Oasis, Radiohead, Eminem and many others. I also represent the Conde Nast group of companies which publish such well known titles as Vogue and Glamour magazines amongst many others.

INLEX: What about you Mrs Pecoraro ?

Anne-Marie PECORARO: I am a business and entertainment lawyer specialized in Intellectual Property and also advising on new technologies and communications issues. Our team was very early known in legal areas such as new technologies, Internet and communication networks in general. Our firm is highly lauded in the audio-visual and music sectors and in addition to trademarks, designs and models, has been dealing with numerous copyrights matters.

INLEX: As Lawyer and Attorneys, our respective activity enforces us to be open to each other, how do you manage it everyday?

Anne-Marie: Our firm is established nationally and internationally (in Shanghai notably) and the way it is organized enables us to intervene by coordinating the skills and competences of specialists in any matters.

Ian: I correspond daily with lawyers in many different countries from India to Bolivia and from South Africa to Iceland. viewsHowever, the majority of my practice relates to the administration of IP disputes in Europe where I work with practitioners in virtually every European country.

INLEX: Mrs Pecoraro, as a French lawyer, do you think that the merger between French Lawyers and Industrial Property Attorneys is possible and desirable?

Anne-Marie: Our activity is both different and complementary to the activity of a trademark agent, with whom we often work in partnership. The consulting firms have specializations, purposes, competences and equipments that are oriented differently than ours. I consider this merger as a chance for our clients: The client who entrusts, on the one hand, an agent with registering its designs and trademarks and managing its industrial property documents, files and rosters, and on the other hand, a law firm with handling its litigations, finds a real strategic interest in such an organization.

INLEX: Such an organization must therefore increase the costs twofold?

Anne-Marie: Frequently a trademark agent will be managing the industrial property portfolio of a client and handling administrative proceedings, whereas, for the same client, our law firm will be coordinating, following, and carrying out the legal actions, infringement cases in particular, which does not increase the costs but on the contrary optimizes them.

INLEX: Mr Bartlett, what is the situation in UK compared to France?

Ian: There are 3 kinds of IP professionals: Solicitors, Barristers and Trademark Agents. At first, only barristers were brought to plead, but since few years we are moving to a more continental system:For example, a dispute is now treated with a Solicitor and 1 or 2 Barristers, and Trademark Agents can be called Attorney (Usually reserved to solicitors) because of their enlarged responsibilities. Actually, our system is very different from the French system which, from its sides is also unknown by English professionals. I think that to face obligations that imply the intensification of the European Community we have to harmonize our procedures especially in front of the administrative offices. French people understood this point, I think that they are doing well with this merger which is a good first step but this would need to have things harmonized between professions of each European Countries what will take decades.

INLEX: Are you scared of the competition that a successful French alliance between Lawyers and Attorneys could bring?

Ian: Obviously when the CTM procedure came into force and the UK joined the Madrid System (both in 1996), we have entered into direct competition with our colleagues in Europe. However, this competition has not diminished our relationships but has rather enhanced them. There are still so many occasions when we need each other. Indeed, I have been sufficiently impressed by the work of a European colleague who has been on the opposite side to me, that I have instructed him or her when one of my clients needs a local lawyer to represent them in that country. Accordingly, while there is now competition, such competition can very often lead to increased opportunity and new relationships.

INLEX: Thank you for your contribution. Two other Lawyers will participate in the next issue.


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