TMAP Conference in Berlin by Nick March

Come and say ‘Hello’ to WebTMS at the TMAP Conference held in the Maritim hotel, Berlin, on 15-17 September 2019.

If you’re heading to TMAP this year we’d love to catch up with you at Maritim Hotel in Berlin, between 15th to 17th September.

Come and say ‘Hello’ to the WebTMS team and learn about our comprehensive yet intuitive IP management platform which supports the efficient handling of all IP matters with a strong focus on trademarks.

WebTMS representatives will be ready to demonstrate how you can import high-quality, reliable trademark data from over 180 trademark databases into WebTMS to help validate and update trademark portfolios.


WebTMS is organising the following client event on 15th September:

User Group Meeting
including workshops

Join us at the Maritim Hotel for a WebTMS User Group Meeting where you can find out more about our forthcoming updates and chat to our experts! Then take the opportunity to learn how to achieve more with less effort at our WebTMS workshops.

Please click on the link below to sign up for this event:



The User Group Meeting and workshops run from 9am to 12pm and include breakfast.

Maritim hotel
Stauffenbergstraße 26
10785 Berlin, Germany

at Salon 7


We will be bringing our expertise and experience in managing IP portfolios and look forward to seeing you in Berlin!

To get in touch with us, please email Kasia @ [email protected].


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Going solo – setting up an intellectual property practice – PART 2 by Nick March

Flying solo: starting and building an international trademark practice


Arlette Molenaar started her independent trademark practice almost by accident after leaving a long-term role. Five years later her business, EQUIPP, is thriving and she is a big advocate of the benefits that small practices can offer. In the second in our series on solo trademark practitioners, we talked to Arlette about the tools and tactics she’s used to start and grow her business, and how she feels the market is for small practitioners right now…

Arlette is a solo practitioner trademark and design attorney who specialises in international trademark and design portfolio, EU trademark and design law. Prior to launching her own business, she spent ten years working for global IP practice Zacco and, on leaving that role, was enjoying a sabbatical when she was approached by a former client.

“The client asked if I would continue to handle their portfolio,” says Arlette. “When other people also started sending me work, I decided to set up my own practice and simply see what would happen. It has now been five years and I am still a solo practitioner, much to my delight.”

That was in 2014, and Arlette now has a successful practice and is respected as one of the leading trademark practitioners in the Benelux region. Her main initial challenge was the competition clause by which she was bound, meaning that she couldn’t approach her industry contacts, but much of her business now comes via recommendation and word of mouth, so this hasn’t been a long-term problem.


Simple set-up

When it comes to the practicalities of setting up the business and selecting productivity tools, Arlette decided to keep things straightforward. “I built my own website and deliberately kept that very simple. In the beginning I used Excel for accounting, but now I use Moneybird.   All the software I use is cloud-based and remotely accessible so I can work from anywhere.

Arlette invested in WebTMS for the same reason. “I’ve used WebTMS from the start as a docketing system is essential in my view. It’s web-based and easy to use with excellent customer support whether you are a large or small client. Also, their business model is different: when your practice is small you pay less than when you’re a big firm and fees only increase when your practice grows. But even for small clients all the updates and improvements are included and the support department is easy to reach and always available to assist.”

Client recruitment is always an important consideration for a new business. While many of Arlette’s clients come via referrals through her personal network, she also makes it a priority to invest in continuing education and growing her network through attendance at industry events. “I attend INTA every year and MARQUES every other year and find this is the most effective way to grow my reputation.” Given the limited time available to solo practitioners for non-core activities, she has made the conscious decision not to carry out wider marketing campaigns. “I do not invest further in my website, blogging or online marketing – it does not always result in the kind of clients that I prefer to work with.” Echoing a comment made by fellow solo practitioner Daniel Coleman in our first blog on the topic, Arlette notes that, “clients who approach me randomly are often merely shopping around.”


Offering a differentiated service

It’s important to differentiate yourself as a solo practitioner to build a successful business, says Arlette, who has focused on building her reputation as a knowledgeable attorney with a commercial mindset. “I used to work as in-house counsel at Tommy Hilfiger and this valuable experience with such a well-known brand has been useful in obtaining new clients.” External references are also important: “I invest time in trying to get a profile in the WTR1000, the World Trademark Report’s 1000 Leading Trademark Professionals register. This acknowledgement is useful when you have a small practice. In addition, I invest in a good foreign associates network to ensure I can offer international reach.”

Life as a solo practitioner has several major benefits, according to Arlette, chief of which is the greater focus you can achieve when working for yourself: “The big advantage is that there is no politics any more, no meetings, no teams to get aligned – these are all challenges that you face on bigger firms. You actually get to focus 100% on your work, which is what I love.”

On the flipside there is the lack of external support for activities like administration. “There is definitely some more administrative stuff that you have to do, and you need to solve your own IT issues – I don’t really mind that, though. I think a good trademark attorney is already well-organised by nature – it comes naturally – so admin is not such a burden. Also, I have become much more IT-tech savvy now that I have to figure it all out myself!”


The benefits of using a solo practitioner

 There are certain key advantages for clients who work with a small practitioner, says Arlette, “you can offer a very personal, quick service and a helicopter view. No vital information gets “lost” in communication challenges among a large team.” There can also be a sense of camaraderie among entrepreneurs. “Many clients that built up their own company like to work with another self-starter, they like to give work to someone who has built up his or her own business rather than picking a big firm.”

Arlette believes that the market is very positive for small and solo firms right now. “I think it’s easier to run a small practice right now than a bigger firm,” she says. “Firstly, there’s a lot of work out there but it’s difficult to find the right people to do it. At least as a small practice that’s not a worry as you do all the work yourself! Secondly, small firms are more flexible IT-wise and leaner than bigger firms that have a hard tie to adapt and modernise their systems. This means that we can offer a more efficient, up-to-date service without the risks associated with using legacy technology.”


Thank you, Arlette, for sharing your insights with us. Find out more about EQUIPP via the website.


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Putting a price on intellectual property by Nick March

Putting a price on intellectual property and mitigating risks to the company’s most valuable asset

“IP valuation is not rocket science, it’s much more difficult”

While rocket scientists might not agree with this tongue-in-cheek statement, recent research suggests companies are still struggling to put a price… or, more accurately, a value… on their intellectual property (IP). A study by insurance specialist AON and the Ponemon Institute found that only a third of organisations have insurance in place to mitigate threats to their IP, despite 8 in 10 stating that they consider IP to be a top ten risk for their business.

The study surveyed 2300 organisations across all industries and geographies and found that only 16% of an estimated potential $1billion IP loss or infringement was insured, compared with 60% of tangible assets such as property, plant and equipment (P&PE). This is despite the fact that the average loss if intangible assets are stolen or destroyed was calculated to be 36 per cent higher than that caused by loss or damage to PP&E. Furthermore, more than a third of respondents didn’t think it necessary to disclose a material IP loss in their annual report, whereas 44% would do so in the event of loss or damage to P&PE. There is undoubtedly a disconnection between the way companies value their tangible versus intangible assets.

This is a major oversight given that, depending on your industry, intangible assets could represent as much as 80% of the value of your business. Oft-cited examples include AirBnB – the hospitality business that owns no hotels, and Uber – the taxi service that owns no taxis. Both operate in the burgeoning platform economy, which is transforming the potential of intangible ideas to become global businesses.

But you don’t have to be an Uber or an AirBnB to have significant value residing in your company’s IP. Indeed, the enormous commercial importance of IP to every business operating in today’s digital marketplace has seen it described as the “oil of the 21st century” and, just like oil in the 20th century, everyone wants to get their hands on it, by fair means or foul.

Valuing IP in a growing threat environment – identifying active and passive risks

The AON study found that 28% of organisations had experienced a material IP event in the preceding two years. This is not surprising given the value of the assets at stake and the many ways they can come under threat. The risks can be both active: driven by the actions of third parties or company insiders; and passive: caused by failures of management and process.

Active risks include:

  • Cyber attacks initiated by criminals aiming to steal trade secrets for sale on the dark web, or by nation state-sponsored actors conducting cyber-espionage.
  • Insider threat through deliberate or inadvertent actions by company employees that expose IP.
  • Counterfeiting, trademark and patent infringement by third parties. Of the IP events suffered by 28% of businesses surveyed by AON, 69% involved infringements of, or challenges to, the company’s IP.

Passive risks include:

  • Failure to register IP effectively at the outset and effectively exploit it from that point.
  • Failure to maintain protection for the company’s intellectual property portfolio. This includes activities such as monitoring for cases of infringement as well as ensuring that trademark registrations and patents are renewed on a timely basis.
  • Infringement of third-party IP rights by the organisation. This could include failure to identify competing IP rights when developing a product, resulting in the loss of investment in that product when infringement comes to light.

A matter for the Board

Given these diverse risks threaten such a high proportion of company value, IP protection should be a matter for Board-level oversight.

Directors must firstly identify the actual value that resides in the company’s IP. This can be done in a variety of ways including assessing the value of trademarks, patents and copyrights; identifying the costs to create or replace the IP; or attempting to value the past and future economic benefits of owning the IP rights. For a detailed overview of the pros and cons of these valuation methods check out this post by Kelvin King for the WIPO.

Once directors understand the actual value of IP, they must identify the risks connected to it – from cybersecurity to legal and financial, and evaluate them in the light of the organisation’s risk appetite. They should then gain assurance that sufficient measures are in place to eliminate IP risk, manage it, or transfer it via an appropriate level of insurance cover.

Achieving ROI from IP protection

The role of legal departments in mitigating the active threat of infringements, as well as preventing passive threats through comprehensive monitoring and maintenance of the company’s IP portfolio, is critically important. In fact, rather than representing purely a cost to the organisation, a well-resourced IP team can deliver significant ROI and prove that it pays to protect. Just one example might be recovering the costs of activities such as counterfeiting and preventing future incidents by taking down rogue websites and/or marketplace listings. These activities can deliver measurable results.

On top of this, research by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the EU Intellectual Property Office found that SMEs which seek IP protection are more likely to experience higher growth than competitors that don’t. It’s another compelling reason to prioritise strong IP portfolio management.

IP activity and awareness is growing

While the AON research indicates that organisations are still struggling to properly value IP, there are encouraging signs that IP awareness is growing as organisations recognise the benefits of protecting and leveraging intellectual property rights. In fact, the EU IPO recently celebrated receiving its 2 millionth trademark application while around the world intellectual property offices report record levels of filings. Similarly, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) has just launched an IP insurance initiative for innovators that will cover costs in the event that innovators have to defend or enforce registered IP rights.

This increased activity in registering and defending IP rights will ideally lead to greater appreciation of the business value of the asset and more effective management of the risks associated with intellectual property.

To learn how WebTMS can help you to manage your trademark portfolio and protect company IP, click here.


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INTA Annual Meeting, Boston 2019 by Nick March

Come and say ‘Hello’ to WebTMS at the INTA Annual Meeting held in the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, USA, on 19-22 May 2019.

Whether you are just starting your practice or looking for a new software platform to manage your established IP portfolio, the WebTMS IP Management platform is for you. We will be bringing our expertise and experience in managing IP portfolios and look forward to seeing you in Boston!

WebTMS representatives will be ready to demonstrate our ‘Highly Recommended’ (by WTR1000) IP management platform and how it can assist your business.

Visit our stand #719 & #721 during the conference to find out more.

Click here to view the WebTMS team in INTA 2019


WebTMS is organising the following client events:

WebTMS Workshop on Sunday 19th May.


Brush up your skills and learn how to achieve more with less effort at our WebTMS workshop on Sunday 19th May. Join us at the wonderful Weston Boston Waterfront for a chance to chat to our experts and solve all your trademark portfolio management challenges!

The workshop includes breakfast and lunch and runs from 10am-4pm.

Westin Boston waterfront
425 Summer St
Boston, MA 02210

at Marina Ballroom 1


WebTMS Drinks Reception on Monday 20th May.


Join us at the Bastille Kitchen!

Get to know the WebTMS user community at our evening reception from 6pm-8pm on Monday 20th May at the Bastille Kitchen, a fantastic contemporary French bistro in the heart of Boston’s Fort Point neighbourhood.

Take the opportunity to network with fellow WebTMS users and enter our surprise giveaway draw – just hand us your business card and make sure you stay for the draw later in the evening.

Bastille Kitchen
49 Melcher Street
Boston, MA 02210

To get in touch with us, please email Kasia @ [email protected].


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INTA team by Nick March

INTA is coming…

It’s not long now until the biggest event on the trademark calendar kicks off in Boston, Massachusetts. The International Trademark Association (INTA) Annual General meeting takes place from 18-22 May and is the industry’s opportunity to get together to network, share insight and learn more about the quickly evolving business of intellectual property and brand management. Around 10,000 brand owners and IP professionals have registered and they’ll be looking forward to making the most of all the opportunities on offer.

At WebTMS INTA is a major highlight of the year and our team is looking forward to it. They are INTA veterans, with combined experience of a grand total of 39 meetings. As such they have the inside track on getting the most out of the conference. We got them together to find out their top tips for survival and success and we discovered that, for WebTMS, it’s the chance to meet people that really counts.

The panel:

Rita O’Kyere (RO) – Director, Sales and Marketing. Number of INTA meetings attended: 22 (!)
Michael Ullman (MU) – Regional Sales Manager, Midwest/Western USA, Canada, Mexico, Australasia, Central/South Americas. Number of INTA meetings attended: 7
Richard Connor (RC) – Software Developer and Project Manager. Number of INTA meetings attended: 4
Christinne Wiss (CW) – Support and Training Manager. Number of INTA meetings attended: 4

What’s your role at the INTA Annual Meeting?

RO: I oversee our whole presence at the event.
MU: I’ll be exhibiting at the booth and introducing WebTMS to potential new clients. I’ll be greeting customers, informing new clients about our system, highlighting features and giving demonstrations. Also, seeing and catching up with existing clients, strengthening relationships, answering or troubleshooting questions or issues the clients may have.
RC: I will be at our WebTMS user workshops which takes place on Sunday 19th May, with Christinne and our director Andy, as well as answering any technical queries that visitors to the booth may have.
CW: I generally attend the workshops at the beginning of the conference and then meet with our clients and potential clients at the booth.

What do you think is the best and most valuable part of the event?

RO: Networking, meeting clients and showcasing new software features. For example, we have just signed a new strategic partnership with CompuMark that gives our customers access to 186 trademark databases, covering every jurisdiction worldwide – we’re looking forward to talking to clients about the benefits this will give them. Also, one of the most satisfying things for me is meeting with other company heads to discuss where the market is heading, what challenges we’re facing etc.
MU: It’s great to spend quality time with clients at our networking events – this year we’re hosting a reception at Bastille Kitchen on Monday 20th May. But also I really look forward to catching up with colleagues – we’re a global team so we don’t get to meet up that often and it’s always great when we do.
Being able to meet with clients in person, either formally or informally, really helps us nurture meaningful relationships with them. It’s a great way to find out how they’re using our products and what features they’d like to see us develop next.
CW: Meeting our clients face to face and putting names with faces!

What are your top tips for getting the most out of the event?

RO: Self-care! Stay off the booze and greasy food and try to get plenty of rest!
MU: Be present & approachable to attendees passing by, then throw the charm out there to reel them in!
RC: Same thing my coach at Crossfit keeps telling me – Don’t sprint out of the gate or you’ll burn out before you’re halfway done!
CW: Visit the various booths to meet with and learn from the IP professionals that attend the meeting.  It’s amazing the amount of information you can gather at INTA conferences.

What’s the best booth giveaway you’ve ever seen at INTA?

RO: Umbrellas! That particular year it did nothing but rain.
MU: In terms of a bigger business card draw giveaway, it was probably a new iPad. Otherwise, in terms of the smaller giveaways that everyone can have, a small briefcase which also included a universal charger for traveling, a planner folio, business card holder & pen all in one.
RC: The cowboy hats in Dallas a few years back were dope. I still have mine.
CW: I have to say I’m partial to our own giveaway last year when we handed out laptop camera blockers. I can comfortably do a WebEx meeting knowing no one can see when I’m having a messy hair day!

What sessions do you recommend/like the look of this year and why?

RO: Our timetable is always so tight that I won’t have time to attend any sessions other than our own!
MU: The Continental Breakfast sounds interesting! But seriously, probably the CSA23 Beyond the Trademark Portfolio: 360° Data Management at 1.30pm on Saturday 18th – it seems like a good fit for WebTMS to come up in discussion.
RC: I’d be interested in attending the sessions tackling counterfeiting in China – after a recent trip to Hong Kong the boldness and audacity of fake merchandise available in the street markets was very striking. (CSU01 Anticounterfeiting in China – Sunday 19th)
CW: Wow, there are so many great sessions but I’d have to say that I’m really interested in both the Trademark Administrators Idea Exchange and Best Practices (CSA50 Trademark Administrators Idea Exchange and Best Practices 3pm – Saturday 18th) and the International Trademark law course.  I love meeting with Trademark Administrators and hearing about best practices and new ideas on how to deal with some of the more complex aspects of Trademark Administration.  Of course, I always love learning new things so both appeal to me.

The WebTMS team, including our four panellists, will be at booths #719 and #721 throughout the INTA Annual Meeting. We’re also holding workshop sessions on Sunday 19th May at the Westin Boston Waterfront from 10am-4pm and a networking drinks reception at Bastille Kitchen from 6pm-8pm on Monday 20th May. If you’d like to join us at either event please click here for full details.


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