Your book The big catapult broke new ground to bring the importance of intellectual property to the C-suite. What are your top tips for brand professionals struggling to attract more resources to their function?
I would say it all starts with good IP reporting. Showing management how intellectual property contributes to business success and what you are doing to make it work is crucial. As a subject, intellectual property is not always well understood, so the goal is to present it concisely and without jargon.
The return of face-to-face networking at INTA’s 2022 AGM has been warmly welcomed by the industry. What changes for business and network development have we gained from the pandemic – and which ones are you looking forward to breaking away from?
The global adoption of virtual meeting technologies can clearly be seen as the biggest win of the pandemic. It will probably remain an option in many cases and avoid unnecessary travel. However, there is also a clear conviction that personal contact remains a must.
As the impact of the climate crisis becomes more apparent, sustainability claims will come under increasing scrutiny. What steps should brands take to counter greenwashing allegations?
As IP experts, we should encourage brands to make better use of certification marks. Attention is again being paid to this particular category of marks, which set clear and publicly available standards for the use of a particular mark and the obligations inherent in it. As such, certification marks are ideal environmental, social and governance/corporate social responsibility tools and may need more promotion.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face in relation to MF Brands global IP portfolio and how are you overcoming them?
MF Brands owns several fashion and lifestyle brands. Fashion is a particularly fast-paced industry, so keeping up with the rhythm of launches and collections is always a challenge. It requires good coordination with design and marketing teams to align clearance and law enforcement with business. The goal is a two-way relationship where design and marketing then notify the IP team of potential violations.
The scale of online counterfeiting continues to break records and there is now talk of tackling this by making platforms more liable for selling counterfeits on their websites. Do you think such a measure is likely – and if so, what impact could it have?
Given the very large number of online platforms worldwide, it is clear that brand owners cannot actively monitor them everywhere. Therefore, if we want the Internet to be a safe, reliable and trustworthy commercial environment, platforms must also play an active role. Many are already doing this, so it makes sense that those who don’t should be held accountable in some way. Governments and legislators recognize that this is not just about trade issues between market participants, but about the health and future of the market economy as a system.
Intellectual Property Director
Zeeger Vink is IP Director at MF Brands, the Swiss fashion group that owns Lacoste, among others. Mr. Vink began his career as a lawyer in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom and subsequently worked as an in-house IP consultant at L’Oréal. He holds a law degree from the University of Amsterdam with a specialization in IP law and marketing, taught intellectual property at Sciences Po University in Paris and is currently President of INTA.