What the department does
The name is a bit of a giveaway, but the ‘BDC’ team primarily works with IP not covered by the Patent Litigation team. Namely, this means trade marks, passing off, design rights and copyright. The team deals with both big-ticket litigation in all of these areas as well as brand management and ad hoc brand or product advice. The sectors served are broad but there is a focus on consumer products (fashion, jewellery or anything one might find on a supermarket shelf), life sciences and tech.
The team also comprises trade mark attorneys whose role is to manage trade mark portfolios. This involves carrying out clearance searches for new marks, registering them and filing or dealing with registration oppositions.
What the name does not give away is that the team also advises advertisers on IP issues, ASA complaints and CAP Code compliance as well as general marketing practices and strategy.
A trainee’s role
As a trainee, you can expect to be involved in big-ticket litigation, with the team having dealt with large trade mark, passing off, design right and copyright disputes from the High Court all the way up to the CJEU in recent years. Specific tasks would involve drafting correspondence, attending expert and witness calls and meetings, and general case management.
The brand protection work will involve drafting cease and desist letters to alleged infringers or responses to brand owners. You are also likely to find yourself searching the web (or, indeed, the high street) for evidence of infringement.
You can expect to carry out a lot of legal research in all the above areas. What I have enjoyed so much about the seat is how close you remain to the law. Although you may not be dealing with the technical subject matter a trainee can expect in Patent Litigation, you can expect to explore some interesting areas of developing IP law.
Although the above illustrates the breadth of the department and the corollary of varied work, the team is focussed and niche when compared to rival IP firms which typically have departments covering all aspects of IP (meaning patents and transactional work would be included). In the areas of law covered by the BDC team, the cases often turn on whether ordinary consumers will be confused, this makes the work relatable and gives it a more real-world feeling than one might expect in other areas of law.