Bakers handed Unilever IP work

Unilever has continued the wide-ranging overhaul of its internal legal team with a groundbreaking outsourcing deal that will see Baker & McKenzie handle the company’s entire trademark portfolio.

As first reported by The Lawyer (18 September), the Anglo-Dutch conglomerate is seeking to slash its legal bills after a re-evaluation of the way it works with outside counsel. In particular, it is looking to produce economies of scale by forming global rather than local relationships with its legal suppliers.

Bakers is the first firm to have benefited from the new regime. It has scored a notable coup by beating more than 20 firms in an eight-month tender process to win the trademark mandate. Unilever’s trademark portfolio is believed to be the world’s largest.

Paul Rawlinson, head of Bakers’ global IP group, said the deal was a first for his firm in terms of the scale of the project.

“Unilever was looking for a global platform to handle all of its trademark needs, including prosecution, opposition, clearance and even M&A for brands,” Rawlinson said. “We have worked for Unilever before in a handful of places, but this is a new client for London on this scale.”

The outsourcing deal will see Bakers manage Unilever’s trademark portfolio alongside the company’s in-house team in London and external agents. The project will be underpinned by a single, secure web-based platform providing 24-hour access around the world.