Martineaus loses Rover work to Pinsent Curtis

Pinsent Curtis has won a beauty parade for MG Rover’s trademark portfolio and infringement work, ending the car manufacturer’s relationship with Martineau Johnson.

In-house lawyer Natalie Atkins, who manages trademark and patents work, looked at six firms before choosing Pinsents and local patent agency Anthony Cundy & Co.

Atkins says: “I wanted to get all of my trademark advice from one firm. While we’ve been very happy with Martineau Johnson, it continues to advise BMW on licensing, so there’s the possibility of conflict in the future.”

Pinsents Birmingham intellectual property partner and motor industry specialist Marie McMorrow, who leads the team instructed by Rover, has a longstanding relationship with the car dealer, first advising it on anti-counterfeiting matters while at Wragges several years ago. She took the work to Martineau Johnson before joining Pinsents in 1995.

Atkins says the one-stop shop offered by McMorrow was key to her decision to appoint the firm. Pinsents is virtually unique in having an integrated trademark and portfolio management service, with its own trademark attorneys.

Atkins says: “It was a difficult decision, but certainly on the trademark side Marie and her team came out a reasonably long way ahead of anyone else.”

McMorrow says: “We are absolutely delighted to be working alongside Rover in this important area.

“This key appointment is testimony both to the strength and quality of our IP team, and to our depth of dedicated automotive sector knowledge and experience.”

Only regional firms were considered in the beauty parade, in line with the in-house team’s commitment to using local expertise. Atkins says: “We wanted to keep it regional. We can get the level of service we want from Birmingham firms.”

Rover’s trademark department was closed down in November 1999, when all the work went to BMW’s own unit in Munich. Martineau Johnson, which Rover had used since the mid-1990s, was then instructed when infringements occured. The files will now be transferred from the Munich offices.

Pinsents will be working closely with Rover in developing and supporting its new MG brand strategy. Atkins says: “Because of the new emphasis that the company is placing on the MG brand, we’re keen to stop infringement. Historically, the emphasis has been on the Land Rover and Mini. While MG is a fantastic brand, not much work has been done on it. MG Rover is now keen to raise the profile of the brand, and we’ll be looking at how we can work with Pinsents to do that.”

The instruction comes six months after Pinsent Curtis was appointed sole adviser on global trademark issues by IT giant Sema.