Intellectual Property (BEL)
Intellectual property plays a central role in modern business life. Intellectual property rights (“IPRs”) often constitute a firm’s most valuable asset. The complex rules that protect these rights and their international dimension create significant challenges for business. Moreover, IPR’s are often under threat from competitors, both bona fides rivals and less scrupulous counterfeiters or pirates. Any reaction must be prompt and decisive.
Van Bael & Bellis has a thriving intellectual property practice. The firm gives advice in a range of fields involving patents, trademarks, copyright, database rights, unfair trade, e-commerce, licensing, conditional access and new technologies.
At the same time it has often put its knowledge, skills and experience to the test in IP litigation and advocacy before Belgian courts and both European and national antitrust authorities. It has on more than one occasion acted for life sciences clients to protect their patent rights. It has also conducted litigation to secure such diverse assets as its clients’ technological achievements, database rights, trademarks and copyrights.
Together with its customs lawyers, Van Bael & Bellis also acts to defend its clients’ IPR against counterfeit trade and piracy.
Van Bael & Bellis counsels clients on strategic portfolio, compliance and prevention policies as well as on distinct trademark matters. These matters include drafting and negotiating licensing agreements, conducting national/international registration procedures and assisting in trademark infringement cases. In addition, Van Bael & Bellis regularly advises clients on issues relating to the use of trademarks on the Internet, including e-commerce and Web 2.0 applications.
The firm has given advice in a range of industries with a specific focus on the life sciences as well as the consumer and information technology sectors.
The firm is acting for the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world in complex patent litigation against generic competitors. Similarly, it has defended valuable biotechnological patents in complex "torpedo" litigation. Additionally, in the life sciences industry, Van Bael & Bellis often counsels on SPC patent extension issues.
Copyright and Neighbouring Rights
Copyright confers on its author an unregistered bundle of exclusive rights, including the reproduction, distribution, lending and making available rights as well as a set of inalienable moral rights. In addition, other contributors, such as performers, producers or broadcasters, may benefit from neighbouring rights in the protected work. The firm is experienced in providing practical advice and drafting workable agreements which take account of all these rights and limit – to the extent permitted by law – the client’s liability for possible infringement claims from third parties.
Van Bael & Bellis has counselled its clients on copyright issues in industries as diverse as publishing, software and music.
The firm has a number of clients whose databases rank among their most valuable assets. It has counselled and defended those clients in a range of copyright, database right and antitrust issues.
The firm has actively assisted a client in setting up a major Belgium-based e-commerce project with diverse IP angles. It has since developed broad capabilities in the IP aspects of websites, links, tagging and the possible liability of service providers for content on their websites.
Counterfeiting and Piracy
The firm also has hands-on experience in dealing with counterfeit trade both under the pertinent EU Regulation and in a Belgian setting. It uses the full panoply of rules available, including patent and trademark law.
Van Bael & Bellis represents its clients in their relations with the customs authorities by filing applications for action at the national or European level. During counterfeit seizure procedures, the firm ensures that the seized goods are destroyed and the responsible parties are prosecuted.
The firm is currently assisting a client in criminal proceedings relating to the piracy of conditional access services.
Advocacy and Litigation
Van Bael & Bellis has handled a number of high-profile IP cases before the Belgian courts. In addition to being involved in complex patent litigation, the firm successfully defended a trademark in a single colour in high-stakes litigation at a time that the law on this issue was still unsettled.
Van Bael & Bellis also has broad experience in handling IP matters before the European Commission. It has extensively dealt with licensing, interoperability, standardisation and abuse of IP issues. By way of illustration, the firm successfully concluded administrative proceedings before DG Competition involving charges against its client of abuse of patent rights and excessive pricing on a matter crucial to public health throughout the EU. Similarly, it secured a comfort letter for a client with a broad patent portfolio that had set up a licensing policy crucial to the industry.