Norway Trademark Prosecution Firm of the Year: Kvale Advokatfirma
Q: Can you tell us about your trademark practice team (eg, size, practice focuses and key individuals)?
A: Our trademark practice team comprises four partners, two senior associates and two junior associates, as well as a portfolio manager. We advise our clients through the full lifecycle of a trademark from conception through to registration and beyond, providing a robust IP strategy and securing good portfolio management and defence in case of infringement. We are efficient, enthusiastic, easy to work with and proactive, with a focus on mitigating current and future risks. We handle complex and challenging cases in a cost-efficient way and combine a high professional level with an open and informal atmosphere. Our client portfolio spans smaller companies to major market players in Norway, as well as international companies and law firms. Key individuals include partners Marie Vaale-Hallberg, Anne Marie Sejersted and Lars Trygve Jenssen, and senior associate Kaia Bugge Fougner.
Q: From a firm perspective, what was your highlight of 2019?
A: We have been working on building a strong trademark team over recent years, so being elected to manage one of Norway’s largest trademark portfolios is something that we are very proud of. We are now engaged in several trademark disputes for major international clients, for which we credit the hard work of our team and which we also consider to be highlights of 2019.
Q: The firm points to its “true partnership” model as playing into its success – can you tell us a little about that and why it is important?
A: True partnership is essential to us. We believe that the best results – for us as a firm and for our clients – are achieved when assignments are sent to the internal team best qualified for the job. In this way, we foster genuine cooperation and knowledge sharing, which in turn paves the way for the best possible advice and value creation for our clients.
Q: In terms of firm culture, social responsibility features prominently. Do you think that this is becoming more important?
A: Social responsibility is high on our agenda – not only because our partners and employees expect it, but also because our clients and students rightfully demand that a modern law firm should set itself high ambitions in the law as well as the standards by which the business is driven. We are now assessing how we can significantly improve our eco footprint, among other things.
Q: Is the job of the trademark attorney becoming easier or harder – and why?
A: We believe that it is getting, if not harder, at least more complex. That is why we carefully familiarise ourselves with our clients in order to truly understand their needs and provide practical and useful advice that translates into real-world situations. A number of our projects are multidisciplinary and we always ensure that the project teams contain sector experts, as well as experts in litigation and competition law, among others. Several projects involve complex economic issues (eg, valuation, pricing and calculation of damages) and we are well accustomed to identifying and cooperating with external experts.
Left to right: Marie Vaale-Hallberg and Anne Marie Sejersted, partners
Q: The firm offers a full range of legal services beyond intellectual property. How does that benefit its IP professionals and, by extension, their clients?
A: Protecting and enforcing IP rights is always part of the bigger picture. We are in the unique position that we have experts covering all relevant sub-categories within the broad telecoms, media, technology and IP categories and who can offer clients full-service assistance, combining IP skills with commercial, contractual, regulatory, antitrust and public procurement issues, as well as with litigation and in other areas of law. Our clients benefit from a one-stop shop that covers all their legal needs, because the solution is often found across several areas of law.
Q: The firm utilises an extensive network in a bid to help clients register their marks globally. What qualities do you look for in the law firms that you admit to this network?
A: We have spent many years building a network of law firms around the world. We strive to work with the best in the business and recognise the importance of a strong network and long-term relationships with trusted partner firms. Aside from the obvious criteria (eg, high-end competence, a proven track record and good communication skills), we look for firms that share our work methodology. It is crucial for us to have partners that are efficient and can provide our clients with the best solutions at the right time to ensure that their rights are protected.
Q: What are the main priorities for your firm’s development over the next five years?
A: Kvale has ambitious strategies for the future and intends to challenge the position of the most established IP firms in Norway. We are continually looking to grow our trademark practice, both in regard to our portfolio management services and within dispute resolution. We want to challenge all aspects of what is expected of a law firm, building stronger, lasting relationships with our clients, using new technology and always striving to go the extra mile to achieve the best possible results.
Q: AI has been a big talking point over the past year. What impact do you think it will have on trademark attorney practices?
A: So far, AI has had little impact on our own trademark work in Norway. However, these are exciting times and it will be interesting to see how digitisation creates possibilities and challenges for us in the future. We pay close attention to developments within the legal tech community and are interested in improving and utilising new technology in our work. We believe that there will still be room for good lawyers providing specialised and personal advice in the future.
Q: Finally, what qualities make for a successful IP attorney?
A: First and foremost, high-end competence in combination with a practical approach and the ability to give good strategic and commercial advice is crucial. However, to be successful, you also need a good team. Few wins are earned alone and at Kvale we cherish teamwork, not only within our own internal team, but also with our clients. Our slogan is “Succeed together”.