Leaders League. What distinguishes your firm from other firms?
Michaela Ring. HOFFMANN EITLE was established more than 100 years ago as a German law firm and has grown gradually and organically since then while continuing to maintain high values and standards.
Today it epitomizes an international law firm at its best. In addition to its European offices in London, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Milan and Madrid, the head office in Munich employs 29 nationalities. Our professionals include not just European, German, British, and Italian patent and trademark attorneys, but also Spanish, Dutch and Belgian patent attorneys. This expertise is additionally rounded out by professionals holding qualifications as US and Chinese patent attorneys. In my personal opinion, this is a unique setup and conducive to the highly efficient operation of the firm on an international level. HOFFMANN EITLE’s international team serves its clients’ needs both transnationally and across disciplines, thereby ensuring that clients always receive full-service support. Our clients benefit from the high HOFFMANN EITLE standards and these standards are enhanced by the diversity of HOFFMANN EITLE’s expertise.
Leaders League. In your opinion what makes a good intellectual property lawyer?
M.R. As Oscar Wilde so wisely said: “Only the best is good enough”. In my opinion, this must be a benchmark for a good intellectual property lawyer. Legal and technical excellence needs to be coupled with an understanding of commerce and intuition, together with an understanding of the client’s needs and creativity as well as flexibility. However, a further essential quality is maintaining the client’s goals at all times. A good IP lawyer requires not only legal understanding and expertise within his or her field, but also entrepreneurial skills so as to be able to provide the client with reasonable, pragmatic and expeditious advice and solutions. Due to the globalization of the market, an IP lawyer also needs to comprehend all facets of international markets, keeping the aspects of intercultural and deviating jurisdictions in mind. An understanding and awareness of the idiosyncrasies of the respective nationalities optimizes both the negotiating skills of the lawyer as well as his/her interaction with international clients. In a nutshell, a good intellectual property lawyer must act locally while thinking globally.
Leaders League. What are the next IP challenges?
M.R. Globalization has, however, its downside. The current economic market facilitates the manufacturing and sale of product imitations. From a legal perspective, it has become easier to research, and consequently identify, IP infringements throughout the market using the Internet. If an infringer is located in Germany or in another Member State of the EU, the case can be settled swiftly, for example by attaining a preliminary injunction. However, it is still difficult to enforce a preliminary injunction when the infringer is located outside the EU. In most non-EU countries preliminary injunctions are not enforceable. The challenge in this market is it to achieve a global harmonization of the legal provisions to ensure “fair play” on the international market.