Young Practitioner Spotlight: Ece Gönülal

Published: June 1, 2020

Brian Focarino Cooley LLP Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Ece Gönülal was first drawn to trademark law because trademarks feature so prominently in our everyday lives. Ms Gönülal, who was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, began her career in 2017 as a legal intern at Esin Attorney Partnership. 

That same year she qualified as a certified trademark attorney that same year. The Turkish Trademark Office organizes trademark attorney exams every two years; in 2017, 3,000 candidates took the exam and only 60 passed. Ms. Gönülal was one of the youngest candidates to pass the exam.

She approaches the practice of trademark law both humble and grateful to have an opportunity to work on the kinds of matters she is passionate about. Ms. Gönülal’s practice involves representing leading multinational firms in a wide range of matters to protect their trademarks, including prosecution and contentious matters and enforcement. 

Why trademark law? As consumers, we are constantly in contact with products that are protected by intellectual property (IP). Second, the trademark practice is quite international in scope. The laws change between jurisdictions but the fundamentals remain the same, which enables practitioners from various jurisdictions to be on the same page when discussing trademark law and practice. Third, and especially due to its international scope, trademark law and practice is always evolving, very dynamic, and open to changes. 

In her daily practice, Ms. Gönülal sees the growth of the Internet deeply affecting the efficient functioning of trademark law and practice. Despite the territoriality of trademark law, the Internet is universal and permeates every aspect of our lives. Consumers living in Turkey can buy from a local shop in Asia, or a U.S. trademark can be well-known in New Zealand, without any genuine use in that country. As borders begin to disappear in this virtual world, trademark infringements on the Internet and its regulation become ambiguous, making it difficult to ascertain what laws are applicable in what jurisdictions. 

As a young practitioner, Ms. Gönülal encourages all current law students considering a career in trademark law, to “let yourself be inspired“ and “don’t be afraid to jump in.” She advises law school students or recent graduates to attend seminars and trainings organized by IP associations. From Ms. Gönülal’s experience, the IP community is very social, inclusive, and inspirational. The community members get to know each other well, especially due to events organized by associations like INTA, so there are opportunities for young practitioners to network and expand their professional circle early.

Ms. Gönülal stresses that it is not years of practice, but what one can learn and develop in the early years that can make a lasting impact on someone’s career. She concluded by encouraging young practitioners to “be confident and don’t be afraid to speak up.”

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