Volunteer Spotlight: Ellen Breddam

Published: February 15, 2020

Nina O’Sullivan Mishcon de Reya London, UK

Ellen Breddam is a Partner and Head of Trademarks at Plougmann Vingtoft in Denmark. Her day-to-day practice involves providing strategic advice to clients on intellectual property (IP) matters, with a focus on trademarks and designs. She spends much of her time in the filing and prosecution of trademarks worldwide. Currently, this part of her work is dominated by filings in the booming legalized cannabis industry, as well as for chemical (enzymes primarily) industry clients and suppliers of information technology products and services.

Ms. Breddam has been involved with INTA since 2010. Her most enjoyable volunteer post is in fact her current one, where she serves on the European National Offices Subcommittee of the Trademark Office Practices Committee. In this role, she has been involved in Convergence Program CP9, which was launched by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and looks at distinctiveness of shape marks containing other elements when the shape itself is nondistinctive. With a background as a Legal Examiner and then Head of Section at the Danish Patent and Trademark Office, Ms. Breddam has found herself working with like-minded people, all interested in developing a common practice. She has also gained valuable insights into how practice is developing through mutual co-operation between the EUIPO, trademark offices of the EU member states, and the user associations, including INTA.

For trademark lawyers generally, and for INTA specifically, Ms. Breddam identifies two key policy issues that the IP community should be working to address. The first is the lack of international harmonization, without which, she suggests, it is difficult for trademark applicants to understand and navigate the system. In particular, Ms. Breddam argues, the system cannot function properly when a prior mark can become an obstacle to a registration in some countries and not in others. She recommends that INTA maintain its strong focus on harmonization to prevent legal complexities for businesses with a global outlook. The second of these two issues is the constant battle against copycats. Ms. Breddam suggests that the IP profession, through associations such as INTA, should maintain, and perhaps enhance, its efforts against those who seek to take advantage of other people’s ideas and IP.

Outside her trademark work, Ms. Breddam spends her free time with her family and friends. To stay sharp and keep a fresh mind for what can sometimes be long days of case work, she turns to exercise and enjoys boxing.

Like many IP lawyers’ offices, hers displays a mini museum of different clients’ products, a welcome reminder that it is the underlying brand, the entrepreneurship, or the initial idea that brings her to her work. Just one example: on her desk is the minimalist Danish design for the SITPACK, a portable and compact foldout chair. Ms. Breddam and her team were involved in SITPACK’s brand journey, helping the founders to choose a name, and tailoring an IP solution for this “simple, but brilliant product.” Danish innovation is also the source for some of Ms. Breddam’s other favorite trademarks, including STELTON and its Cylinda line (the Arne Jacobsen‒designed iconic tableware), and FREDERIKSDAL KIRSEBÆRVIN (cherry wine). For Ms. Breddam, both epitomize the importance of protecting and safeguarding a unique brand.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

© 2020 International Trademark Association