Milcev Burbea: We have principles and rules that have to be met and they are the same for everyone
Milcev Burbea is a Bucharest-based law firm specialising in Intellectual Property, commercial law, and arbitration and litigation. Led by Gabriela Milcev (left) and Iulia Burbea (right), Milcev Burbea is one of the leading firms for IP in the local market, as recognised by key global legal directories and publications.
What do Equality, Diversity and Inclusion mean to you?
Equality means in terms of our position as employer/owner to treat every person the same, no matter their looks, skin colour, height or weight, male or female. We have principles and rules that have to be met and are they the same for everyone as they define us as business and those are the link that make us equal: empathy, good faith, trust, and keeping our promises.
Equality also means to judge everyone according to their needs and skills. Diversity and Inclusion require that we keep our eyes wide open and to see an extraordinary mind, or a great creative thinker, or a great professional and team player, and that’s all that matters.
How does a law firm led by a team of strong women fit into the Romanian legal landscape?
In our opinion, it fits naturally. We have never felt that “we do not belong here”, neither in relation to our clients nor the authorities or the courts of justice. On the contrary, the mix between being an organisation focused on objectives and the empathy toward the needs of the clients ensured the perfect balance for a complex approach to solutions to various problems.
You are a shining example of how Equality, Diversity and Inclusion should look like in business. Did you set out to build a women-orientated law firm, or did it come naturally as you were building the team?
It came naturally; we never excluded anyone. We always wanted to have a more diverse structure and over time we also had male lawyers as colleagues. Even now we have male colleagues, namely in the administrative department and in the IT department. And we keep our minds open when hiring anyone new.
What are the most common mistakes in an organisation’s approach to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion?
The most common mistake is to have prejudices namely, to exclude ab initio the collaboration with people based on considerations other than: their creativity, their strong will, their ambition, their studies, their professional competencies and their skills.
What are the current specifics of the local IP market? What are the main challenges and opportunities?
Our clients’ most frequently requested projects focus on national or European protection and the international expansion of their brand portfolio. We are currently dealing with the registration strategy and, in parallel, the expansion of several brands outside the country. Because there are several methods of protection, but also because each of them involves strict deadlines and risks (the greater protection that is sought is more extensive in terms of territorial area or products and/or services), we have drawn up an entire strategy, step by step, to obtain as much safety as possible in the procedure, but also a cost balanced with the risks and the client’s target. Also, an increasingly common request is consultancy regarding software development platforms: protection, understanding of rights and limitations, and drafting or analysis of related contracts (development, license, transfer).
Another growing topic of interest is the violation of IP rights in the online environment – trademark infringements, violations of image rights, and software and database piracy. We are happy to see our clients’ businesses grow and by protecting their IP rights we make sure that their investment remains safe and profitable.
What are some of your main clients and high-profile IP matters you have managed?
We have important clients acting in the fields of pharma, banking services, software, retail services, and heavy industry. We have clients in our portfolio who are producers of luxury goods such as watches and furniture, or who provide services intended for or related to luxury goods: luxury boutiques or exclusive travel services.
For these clients, the services we offer consist of monitoring the brand portfolio and following up on acts of infringement of their rights, starting counterfeiting actions and/or criminal complaints, notifications and negotiations to stop the infringement.
We have clients whose rights extend to more than 100 jurisdictions, namely rights to the brand, rights to the design or model (shape) of the product, and copyright. From an IP perspective, the projects consist of the protection of rights, the monitoring of these rights and the attempts of third parties to register or use something similar, the defence of rights through notifications and negotiations, infringement actions, criminal complaints. We coordinate these types of projects, and, in each jurisdiction, we collaborate with a whole network of local lawyers.
What do you feel the outlook of the market in the short- and mid-term is?
More and more companies will realise that the protection of IP rights is not an expense but an investment. The faster this is understood, the faster the steps are taken, the risks are kept under control and the focus shifts to increasing the IP portfolio and implicitly to increasing the value of the company by increasing intangible assets (brand, trade name, copyrights, know-how, trade secrets, etc.).
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