Recognition - why it is still relevant

After almost two years, my role as the chairman of the BMM has come to an end. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to achieve all the goals I have set. The recurring theme in my work has always been recognition. Recognition that intellectual property rights are crucial for the existence of businesses. But also recognition that BMM members, including IP lawyers, in-house lawyers, and BMM-recognized trademark and design attorneys are specialists. This is all the more important in order to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff, especially given the many crooks that seem to pop up constantly.

 

After almost two years, my role as the chairman of the BMM has come to an end. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to achieve all the goals I have set. The recurring theme in my work has always been recognition. Recognition that intellectual property rights are crucial for the existence of businesses. But also recognition that BMM members, including IP lawyers, in-house lawyers, and BMM-recognized trademark and design attorneys are specialists. This is all the more important in order to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff, especially given the many crooks that seem to pop up constantly.

Although there is still no official register for trademark- and design attorneys, I sincerely hope that businesses and institutions will realize the necessity of working with specialists. BMM members guarantee a high-quality performance of their work, whether they’re an IP lawyer or a BMM-recognized trademark attorney.

The fact that anyone working today as a librarian or a car dealer, can promote themselves tomorrow as a trademark attorney and have themselves registered with the official authorities is simply not in anyone’s best interest, especially for small and medium-sized businesses. It also harms the position of the IP profession in general. Therefore, recognition remains an important issue today, as well as for the future.

Recognition of our profession can only happen if we as companies provide our employees with the space to be who they are. Inclusivity is a hot topic now and I hope that we, as the BMM and as individual members, can create the right conditions so that our employees feel safe, regardless of their nationality, language, religion, skin colour, gender, or sexual orientation.

I am pleased to hand over the BMM chairman's position to Francois Uyttenhove, knowing that he has a great and skilled team surrounding him. I am excited to see how he will reach and shape the objectives of our organisation. I want to thank everyone for the trust they’ve given me and for the wonderful collaboration over the past years. I hereby hand over the chairman's hammer.


(Final speech as BMM chairman on March 23, 2023)

other-general



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IP quiz Trademarks

Puma is one of the bigger sports and lifestyle brands in the world. The core-business is the design, development and sale of (sports) shoes, (sports) clothing and accessories. In 1960, Puma registered an international trademark for a device designed in 1958: the formstrip. Since then, Puma has registered approximately 90 formstrip trademarks with validity in the Benelux or the European Union. Puma claims that this is a serial mark. Monshoe is a wholesaler of women's shoes and related products. The company designs and develops Monshoe shoes which it largely markets itself. Monshoe sells its women's shoes under the brands Shoecolate and Pearlz. The shoe Shoecolate is offered in various colour combinations. Puma claims that Monshoe infringes its well-known formstrip trademark. Monshoe contradicts this and states that the average consumer will not perceive the device of Monshoe on the sneakers as a trademark. And if the public will recognize a trademark in the decoration, it will not make the connection to Puma. According to Monshoe, the formstrip logo is not a well-known trademark within the meaning of the BVIE and the UMVo. There is no likelihood of confusion because the sign does not or hardly evoke any association with Puma among the public. In light of the above, who is right? Does this constitute decorative use or linking to a well-known trademark?