The 2010/12/01 at 09:43
“An elaborate structure allowing us to get closer to businesses.” This is how Olivier Boland, CEO of Novagraaf France describes his organisation. This company’s activity covers everything that has anything to do with the protection of trademarks, designs, copyright, domain names… Another legal structure of the group, with which it is closely linked by strategy, management and integrated joint services, Novagraaf Technologies, headed up by Jean-Louis Somnier, covers all activities concerning the protection of innovations, chiefly by patents. “Our staff comprises of around twenty specialised lawyers, grouped into five teams of ten to fifteen persons, including three to five consultants. Clients are in contact with only one of these teams, whatever their needs, allowing for better reactivity and closer-range support. In this way, when they come into contact with Novagraaf France, they immediately know which contact to turn to,” details Olivier Boland.
Patent engineers for higher performance
The company’s offer meets all types of requests, from the monitoring of competitors’ trademarks, to procedures for obtaining and maintaining rights over trademarks, via contracts (handovers, licensing...) and dispute management.
The company has no separate services for the execution of each task (registration, renewal, trademark application…) for all these tasks are carried out by each individual team. “It makes more sense to entrust all services to a small unit, so that the client doesn’t find him or herself with a large number of contacts depending on what request is being made,” continues Olivier Boland.
The organisation Novagraaf Technologies is founded on the same bases as Novagraaf France, and draws together around thirty engineers shared between three divisions, each headed by a senior partner: process mechanics, information and communication technologies (ICT)-physics, and life sciences-chemistry. Most patent engineers have worked in the industry over long years, building up experience that gives them legitimacy in satisfying the needs of clients and analysing files to support the latter’s best interests,compounding their high levels of technical and professional training. “For each request, we steer the client towards the engineer whose competences are best adapted to his or her needs and domain of activity,” explains Jean-Louis Somnier.
A comprehensive offer
Novagraaf Technologies focuses its activity on all domains and stages relating to the protection, promotion and defence of innovation. Its teams carry out priority research for all innovations, applications, assessment procedures, as well as pre-legal litigation such as formal notices, when a client wishes to take action against a competitor suspected of using a protected innovation.“Our offer stands for trademarks as well as patents, unlike many of others in the business who devote 80% of their activities to patents for historic reasons pertaining to the evolution of our regulated profession, or else more recent firms that are essentially specialised in trademarks or patents. As for Novagraaf, we were initially mainly positioned in trademark-related services – our group was called Novamark at the time –, before developing a strong patent activity notably by buying out other firms specialising in patents – three in the space of fifteen years, the latest being Bredema in 2008,” confides Jean-Louis Somnier.
Novagraaf also has an entity called IPAM (Intellectual Property Asset Management), in charge of the promotion of trademarks and patents. It is made up of consultants with legal as well as financial training, who actively collaborate with engineers and lawyers to optimise the value of creations and/or innovations.
Clients from all horizons
The Novagraaf group, which, in France, is amongst the top industrial property firms, in terms of the number of consultants as well as in terms of applications and turnover, and is one of the rare groups to operate on a European scale, addresses all sectors of activity, from automobiles to the pharmaceutical industry, via insurance and winegrowing. “As well as our business clientele, our offer interests all players in the economic world, from freelance inventors and creators to State and international structures, via all types of SMEs, public and university research organisms. The CNRS, for example, is a major client of the company,” points out Jean-Louis Somnier.
Still in the interests of offering close-range services, Novagraaf has set up offices in a number of French regions, in Lorient, Besançon, Toulon and Metz. “This territorial anchorage also brings us closer to certain clients. This criteria is all the more important for patents. In SMEs and VSEs, company heads and inventors are often poorly informed about the scope of their innovation. They have a technical file, often underestimate its value, and even if they are aware of its innovative character, they are unaware of the possible economic fallout and the originality of their findings. The fact that we can support them concretely and accompany them means that we can play a key role,” he continues.
Apart from France, the group has offices in Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland. It is currently in the midst of an expansion strategy. Olivier Boland explains that “the company has part of its capital held by financiers who support professionals and who, by offering significant means, wish to make the organisation into a truly European enterprise. Several possibilities for extension are being studied, notably in Munich, in Germany, where the European Patent Office has its head office. Generally speaking, we wish to position ourselves better overseas to meet the needs of countries that stand out for their sense of innovation. Let’s recall that in Germany, local businesses and inventors make 40,000 patent applications every year, in other words three times more than in France.”
Novagraaf is also thinking about how the group might join forces with a body of lawyers, enabling the company to extend its claims services and offer genuine support during legal proceedings.