Camilla Hamrin of Groth & Co in Sweden talks about her most interesting piece of work in the past 18 months, career in intellectual property law and life outside work.
Camilla Hamrin (CH): When finishing high school, I said law was the last thing that I would study. After a couple of years abroad I was ready to start at Stockholm University and a friend convinced me to take a course in law. I found it very interesting and decided to continue with law school. Never say never!
CH: I chose IP law because it is very international. Having lived abroad from the age of 6 until 20 (in the United States, Italy, and Switzerland) also influenced that decision.
CH: During and after law school I worked as an assistant editor-in-chief at a leading Swedish legal periodical, Juridisk Tidskrift, and thought I might continue in publishing. My thesis supervisor, professor Marianne Levin, asked me to hold a lecture based on my thesis “Copyright and Applied Art”.
Many in the audience were from IP firms and it was only then I knew that there are law firms that specialise in IP law. I contacted them all, but unfortunately none were hiring at that time (it was generally difficult to get a job as an inexperienced lawyer). After sometime I saw a job advertisement in a morning paper by a firm seeking a junior trade mark attorney. I was quick to apply and got the job.
CH: I was contacted by the then head of trade marks who offered me the opportunity to join the firm. The status of the firm made it an easy choice. I became a partner in 2007 and a board member for many years.
CH: We have great and interesting clients with terrific people to work with. We have different clients, from local start-ups to large multinational companies in different industries, which provide a variety of work. My talented and sympathetic colleagues are, of course, also very important. We work together in an unpretentious and helpful atmosphere that is always open for a laugh.
CH: Understanding the business and needs of my clients and knowing that I have the expertise to strengthen their business activities makes the role rewarding. I enjoy the international focus, variety of work, and finding solutions.
IP law is an exciting area of law that has developed a lot since I started 25 years ago. The complexity of the issues and the importance of IP in society and companies are completely different from what they were back then.
CH: Like in any profession, it is of course essential to work with experienced and skilled colleagues or other mentors that can always teach you more. I also think it is valuable to be involved in other activities; for example, you can be part of a committee of an IP organisation such as INTA, Marques or ECTA. You can also engage in the growth of your firm by developing business ideas, improving competence or internal routines.
CH: One of my early clients that I still represent is World Childhood Foundation. The foundation was established by HM Queen Silvia of Sweden in 1999 and works globally to protect children from violence and sexual abuse. I am proud to have contributed valuable IP advice to the foundation, whose work is of significance to vulnerable children around the world.
CH: In 2018, Kooperativa Förbundet (KF) decided to streamline its trade mark portfolio and update the visual profiles of its brands. KF owns many consumer-owned companies and associations including COOP, Sweden’s second largest grocery chain. The company set up a trade mark strategy council for this project, and I participated in the council’s meetings.
I provided recommendations on the trade marks and domain names to terminate as well as new trade mark filings. I also wrote a comprehensive internal document for trade mark protection, management and enforcement. These were implemented, leading to substantial cost savings and improved protection. After KF had launched its new brand platform, they were also able to measure an actual increase in sales.
CH: The initial portfolio was huge, and I needed to understand KF's brand strategy in order to provide advice. There were many stakeholders within the organization to consider and convince about the new IP strategy. But it was a lot of fun and the collaboration with the client was great.
CH: As an IP lawyer, I believe you should be creative, curious, accurate and devoted. You must, of course, have a deep knowledge of IP and be prepared to find pragmatic solutions and understand your role and how you can add value.
CH: It is important to understand the business and needs of the clients in order to provide them with the best possible results. I believe the client-attorney relationship is based on teamwork, as we are both looking for the best outcome. Finally, clients appreciate swift feedback.
CH: Rethink, adapt and make a new plan.
CH: My favourite food is anything from the water, whether it is fish or any kind of shellfish.
I love slalom, but only go skiing 1 - 2 weeks each season. In recent years, I have also taken up dinghy sailing, which was dormant for a long time. We just bought a two-person dinghy, a beautiful Snipe, so this summer I have had the benefit of sailing with my teenagers.
One positive aspect of the pandemic is that I have replaced training at the gym with training outdoors, which is wonderful. I joined a group that started in spring 2020 and we have been working out several times a week since then, whether there is sunshine, rain, or snow!
CH: I have never liked swimming when the water is cold. Despite this, I have been bathing with my training group after workouts, even when we had to make an ice hole to get into the water.
Perhaps not such a fun and interesting fact is that I feared dogs because I was bitten by one as a child. However, I gave in to the pressure of the family a few years ago and since then an affectionate and handsome golden retriever, Bob, is a loved member of our family. Again, never say never!
Camilla Hamrin is a European trade mark and design attorney focused on brands. She has extensive experience in trade mark strategy, protection and enforcement. Hamrin became a partner at Groth & Co in 2007. Read more about Hamrin here.