Trade mark work has become increasingly commoditised in recent years – certainly faster than patents, which has been held back somewhat by its technical subject matter and higher-value litigation. Trade mark attorneys are now not unusual at large law firms, while attorney firms such as Gevers have repeatedly pushed the boundaries of cross-border filing efficiency.
|Louboutin - keeping trade mark attorneys on their toes|
Yet the market is anything but settled. Looking over the range of changes to our Trade Mark Survey rankings this year, there are almost as many promotions, demotions and partner moves as in February’s Patent Survey. Some people clearly think there is profitable work worth fighting for.
Bird & Bird had a particularly good year, climbing up to tier 1 for trade mark contentious in Italy and hiring leading lawyers in France. Those lawyers, Rebecca Delorey and Nathalie Ruffin, left Gilbey Delorey - and the now renamed firm, Gilbey Law, dropped out of the trade mark contentious rankings as a result.
In Asia, the Ella Cheong Spruson & Ferguson partnership in Singapore formally ended in November, with individual practitioner Ella Cheong taking the trade mark side of the business. Australian firm Spruson & Ferguson took patents and designs. Both are now ranked in tier 1 for prosecution in their respective fields.
Our US research has expanded hugely in the past year, with new publication IP Stars due out later in 2013. This will rank IP lawyers and firms across all 50 US states, and it was partly because of this broader scope that Texas firm Pirkey Barber entered the US national trade mark rankings for the first time. The firm is a trade mark specialist and is particularly strong in litigation and domain name proceedings.
Commoditisation of trade mark work is going to carry on growing. But then so is the importance of international brands, and as long as that requires protection in high-value cases – such as Louboutin’s protection of its red-sole mark last year – trade mark work will remain lucrative and competitive.