Top 10 Influential South African Intellectual Property Lawyers to Watch in 2023

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South Africa’s intellectual property (IP) landscape plays a pivotal role in fostering innovation and driving economic growth. Keeping this in mind, it is important to highlight the significant work of intellectual property lawyers, whose invaluable contribution helps safeguard the creativity and innovation of businesses and entrepreneurs. The aim of this article is to spotlight interesting and accomplished IP lawyers in South Africa. It recognises ten experts who have made their mark in this niche legal sector.

The lawyers featured in this article represent a broad spectrum of expertise, embodying diverse areas of IP law including trademarks, copyright law, portfolio management, and commercial IP. It becomes clear that these professionals are adept at navigating the dynamic and complex world of IP, offering top-notch legal aid, advice and representation for their clients. Their work ensures that Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are respected, upheld and protected.

These pioneering South African IP lawyers all have a unique story and background that led them to their specialisation. The following snapshots of their illustrious careers should serve as an inspiration for aspiring IP lawyers and investors who want to understand more about the pivotal role of IP in the business world.

Charles Webster

Representing Spoor & Fisher, Charles Webster is an accomplished law professional based in Pretoria who has considerable experience with trade mark and copyright litigation counsel. His expertise also extends into the realm of competition law.

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Vanessa Ferguson

In the vibrant city of Cape Town, Vanessa Ferguson operates from Von Seidels. Her practises envelops trade mark protection and enforcement, as well as counterfeiting issues, representing many domestic and international clients including those from the consumer goods and sports industries.

Simonne Moodie

Also from Von Seidels, Simonne Moodie holds recognition for her consultancy on trade mark prosecution and portfolio management. She also operates out of Cape Town.

Bernadette Versfeld

Basd in Johannesburg, Bernadette Versfeld runs a respected practice at Webber Wentzel. Her areas of specialisation encompass trade mark prosecution and enforcement, as well as commercial Intellectual Property.

Waldo Steyn

Another notable IP lawyer is Waldo Steyn, based in ENSafrica. He is recognised for his extensive experience in addressing a wide range of IP issues, including, but not limited to, IP revolving around sale and purchase arrangements, licensing, and software development.

Gérard du Plessis

Gérard du Plessis, a senior partner at Adams & Adams, is known for his specialisation in contentious IP mandates and his representation of multinationals in trademark litigation.

Kelly Thompson

Also from Adams & Adams, Kelly Thompson chairs the firm from its Pretoria office. She is noted for her outstanding role in the area of trademark litigation, representing clients in opposition and enforcement.

Herman Blignaut

Pretoria-based Herman Blignaut, of Spoor & Fisher, is an advocate noted for his skill in trademark and copyright litigation and opposition.

Christine Strutt

Operating out of Cape Town, Christine Strutt of Von Seidels has a burgeoning reputation for her work in the IP market. Her clientele includes high-profile, international and domestic retailers and tech companies, whom she assists with copyright and trademark enforcement and prosecution.

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Eben van Wyk

Also based in Cape Town, Eben van Wyk of Spoor & Fisher offers counsel to a number of clients in the industries of sports, consumer goods, and retail on issues of trademark opposition and infringement disputes, domain name registration and trademark fillings.

The diverse and dynamic backgrounds and accomplishments of these South African IP lawyers underscores the breadth of expertise within the field. From copyright and trademark disputes to domain registration and portfolio management, these experts continually help businesses protect, manage and capitalise on their intellectual assets, adding significant value to South Africa’s burgeoning innovation ecosystem.

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