Dennemeyer's Associate Spotlight is a regular series highlighting our team of dedicated professionals who work in a vast network of offices spanning six continents. Get to know Frédéric Blanc, Head of Dennemeyer & Associates' French desk.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on June 14, 2019, and has been updated for accuracy and completeness.
As we have seen in past installments of the Associate Spotlight — such as our Q&A with Luxembourg Head of Trademarks Olivier Lombardo — each of our colleagues on the international Dennemeyer team is an individual with wide-ranging interests, experiences and skills. Frédéric Blanc, head of our French desk in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, is another person to exemplify these qualities.
A licensed trademark and design attorney in France and the EU, Frédéric Blanc began his professional career in Intellectual Property (IP) law, with a close focus on trademarks. After garnering 14 years' experience, he shifted his efforts to IP management and anti-counterfeiting: first at Lacoste, as Deputy IP Director, and then as IP Director of Abercrombie & Fitch in Switzerland. When not representing the clients of Dennemeyer & Associates' French desk as an expert in trademark and design prosecution as well as anti-counterfeiting, he pursues his diverse interests that range from music to martial arts. [This interview has been translated from the original French and edited for clarity.]
What is your favorite IP work you have been involved in?
Years ago, I represented an American company in a copyright infringement case based on the organization's rights to a famous character created in 1911. The character and story had been slavishly copied by the producer of what I would call a morally reprehensible film.
It was an exciting and challenging case because I had to immerse myself in the texts of the Berne Convention, but I was able to establish that this work, created in the United States 80 years earlier, was still eligible for copyright protection in France. This producer's movie was found to be counterfeit, and the courts prohibited its distribution. I can safely say that this was not a significant loss for the history of cinema!
Litigating a copyright infringement lawsuit requires digging much deeper than just examining the works in contention. For Frédéric Blanc, this meant delving into the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, first accepted in 1886.
What is the most challenging issue you have come across in your area of IP?
One of the most thrilling challenges for me was to convince a company of the merits of Intellectual Property. Having come for a simple trademark registration, our discussions allowed us to identify deficiencies and points for improvement in terms of protection and defense. Following our recommendations, this client was able to optimize their assets by strengthening and extending their protection, which made it possible to eliminate competitors and counterfeiters.
How do you define success?
For me, success is defined as the efficient handling of a case and by how the client would rate the experience. Being the sole point of contact for a French team of over 20 people gives my clients a sense of effectiveness and time savings. This customer feedback, in my opinion, is the greatest measure of success.
I would describe Dennemeyer & Associates France as a global, value-adding and dedicated office.
What is the most important trend you see in IP today?
In my opinion, the budget remains a significant concern in IP matters, with a constant need for optimization. We must offer excellence at a contained cost.
What is your optimal career outside of the legal or IP profession?
I consider myself a passionate musician, so if I could work in music full time, I would love that. While I can play guitar, my favorite is the shamisen - a three-string Japanese instrument played using a pick known as a bachi. Traditionally, it was used to accompany kabuki theatre. I do not know for certain, but I would not be surprised to learn that I am one of the few people in France who play it.
A passionate musician, Frédéric Blanc loves to play the guitar and the Japanese shamisen, an instrument that has been delighting audiences for around 500 years.
What is something people might be surprised to learn about you?
That I can do the splits! I practice karate, so I have to regularly stretch and exercise intensively, which has given me great flexibility. Practicing karate and the shamisen also makes me feel very attuned to the culture of Japan — sometimes more so than that of France! But of course, I am very proud to be the French face of Dennemeyer & Associates.