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Industry focus: Food in Belgium

Bird & Bird

Drawing on its firmwide reputation for intellectual property work, Bird & Bird's food and beverage team is routinely engaged by a stellar roster of domestic and international clients seeking assistance in the IP space.  Trademark portfolio management is a core strength of the practice, including protection and enforcement actions, monetisation reviews and regulatory compliance pertaining to advertising. The team is also well versed in industry-specific e-commerce matters, consumer law, and boardroom-level advisory. Nicolas Carbonnelle assists clients in the food and drinks space with the full lifecycle of new products, including innovative new ventures in the eco-conscious space. IP heavyweight Jean-Christophe Troussel acts for a number of multinationals on cross-border transactions and disputes.

Practice head(s):

Nicolas Carbonnelle; Jean-Christophe Troussel

Key clients

Anheuser-Busch InBev

IPIFF (International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed)

Le Pain Quotidien

Ferrero

FAM, Stumabo and Hifferman

Burger Brands

Nestlé

Work highlights

  • Assisting Le Pain Quotidien with the management of its international trademark portfolio, as well as the protection of the Le Pain Quotidien brand.
  • Advised the IPIFF in the drafting of industry guidance on the preparation of novel food application dossiers and the implementation of the EU regulation on food information to consumers (FIC Regulation) in relation to insect-based food products.
  • Represented Anheuser-Busch Inbev in various strategic oppositions before the EUIPO with respect to its global and well-known brands such as STELLA ARTOIS, CORONA, FRANZISKANER, LEFFE etc.

DALDEWOLF

DALDEWOLF fields one of the strongest and most widely regarded practices in the Belgian market. Working across the full gamut of food and feed law, the 'extremely knowledgeable and insightful' team is noted for the depth of its expertise in regulatory and contentious matters, advising a sizeable roster of clients on consumer law, market practices, contractual issues, distribution chains and proceedings before various relevant authorities. The 'authoritative' Aude Mahy is highly regarded for her extensive knowledge of food law - both domestically and at an EU-level - and her capabilities in court, representing clients in matters ranging from nutrition claims to supply chain liability issues and crisis management.

Practice head(s):

Aude Mahy

Testimonials

‘Completely up to speed regarding the latest developments in food law. Very nice series of webinars during the pandemic.’

‘Audy Mahy is an authority when it comes to EU food law and its national implementation. She also understands very well the challenges of various food business operators and knows how to best assist them.’

‘Skilled and result-oriented team. Available, responsive and proactive members.’

‘Aude Mahy is an excellent lawyer with huge experience in the field of EU food law. Brilliant expert in legal training, fast-thinking, innovative and easy going.’

‘Aude Mahy has been in the food law community for more than 10 years. Her team at Daldewolf have a unique capability when it comes to handling complex Belgian matters. They can provide 360-degree legal advice and representation relating to any food law matter involving the Belgian market.’

‘Aude Mahy is extremely talented. She has a deep knowledge of EU food law and Belgian national laws.’

‘Extremely knowledgeable and insightful in specialty food area – in particular FSMP – in both Europe and Belgium.’

‘We worked primarily with Aude Mahy – her guidance and insights were extremely useful and helped us to establish the products on the market in Belgium. We would not have been successful without her guidance.’

Work highlights

  • Assisting a leading Belgian retailer in the development and related risk assessment of an innovative marketing project consisting of ranking food categories and food products according to their environmental footprint (‘Eco-score’).
  • Representing a German-based manufacturer of food supplements in a litigation with the Belgian authority FOD Public Health about the classification of a product containing the word “Regeneration” in its name: food supplement vs medicinal product.
  • Assisting a market leader and international conservation specialist in the seafood industry in a dispute with the Belgian Food Safety Agency regarding the legality of a cold smoking treatment process in tuna.

DLA Piper

DLA Piper‘s sizeable, cross-disciplinary team works with a number of blue-chip multinationals on an array of cross-border advisory and contentious instructions. The team is especially noted for its capabilities representing its high-profile client base in litigation, appearing before various domestic courts in high-stakes trademark and advertising-based proceedings. Regulatory reviews are a further key workflow, where practice co-head Bob Martens is a key contact. Fellow co-head Alexis Fierens is recommended for his IP expertise, advising various food industry players on distribution, unfair competition and advertising issues. Lieven Annaert is noted for his experience in labelling and packaging regulations, and health and nutrition claims.

Practice head(s):

Alexis Fierens; Bob Martens

Other key lawyers:

Lieven Annaert

Key clients

Mondelez

Barry Callebaut

Sodexo

Bacardi-Martini

Coca-Cola

Hard Rock Café

Philip Morris

Colruyt

Lotus Bakeries

Sodastream

Amazon

Work highlights

  • Serving as a point of contact to Lotus Bakeries on legal matters at an international level, with the Belgium team assisting on a number of company law issues, most notably on new corporate governance rules.
  • Assisting iHerb with marketing and labelling issues.
  • Advising SodaStream on its products’ labelling and packaging requirements to ensure compliance with EU regulations and Belgian national legislation and claims handling.

Stibbe

Drawing in practitioners from its IP, life sciences, competition, and disputes departments, Stibbe's multidisciplinary team acts for the full range of food industry players on a host of regulatory and contentious instructions. In recent work, the team has handled high-value IP infringement cases, image rights disputes, and proceedings following the breakdown of collaborative research agreements, while also advising on new EU-wide distribution contracts and logistics ventures. Jan Bouckaert is noted for his expertise in regulatory food law, including health and safety, labelling, and agricultural matters. Patent and trademark expert Ignace Vernimme is a key contact for multiple blue-chip food and beverage companies.

Practice head(s):

Jan Bouckaert

Other key lawyers:

Ignace Vernimme

Key clients

AB InBev

Aldi/Aldi Real Estate

Alpro

Bacardi

Barry Callebaut

Belgian breweries (Abbey of Grimbergen, Haacht, Palm, Bosteels)

Belgian Chocolate Group

Belmoca

Biorigin Europe

Culinor Group

Délifrance

Dosche Mills

Fevia

Nestlé Waters

Sip-well

Shell Brands International

Valorfrit

Vandemoortele

Western Australian Agriculture authority

Work highlights

  • Assisting Godiva Japan after Godiva US claimed that Godiva Japan infringed certain clauses of the licence agreement concluded between them.
  • Acting for the owner of the Halloumi trademark and authorised applicant in opposition procedures before the Benelux trademark office against the trademark registration ‘POLLOUMI’.
  • Assisting AB InBev in the context of several recent matters in a diverse range of legal areas.

Allen & Overy LLP

Working in a cross-departmental fashion, Allen & Overy LLP‘s capabilities in the food and beverage space span from transactional to contentious, with clients including a number of industry-leading Belgian and international companies. Recent work includes handling cross-border acquisitions, liability claims and trademark opposition proceedings before various domestic courts. Patent specialists Peter Van Dyck and Geert Glas are noted.

Other key lawyers:

Peter Van Dyck; Geert Glas

Key clients

Brouwerij Haacht

Duvel Moortgat

Jack Daniel’s

ALTIUS

A number of major producers, industry associations, agri-biotech companies, and foreign governments seek out the team at ALTIUS for its wide-ranging experience in the agri-food sector. Underpinned by the firm’s strength in IP and life sciences, the cross-practice team regularly handles both contentious and advisory instructions, including cross-border patent litigation, geographical indications, and regulatory annulment proceedings. Intellectual property specialist Phillippe De Jong has extensive regulatory knowledge in the life sciences and agri-food industries and Olivier Vrins works with various luxury champagne and cognac producers on geographical indications and designations of origin, appearing before the Benelux Courts and the EUIPO.

Key clients

Moët Hennessy

The Government and Attorney General of Pakistan

CIVC (Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne)

Work highlights

  • Representing the Government of Pakistan before the European Commission in opposition proceedings against an application by India for registration of ‘Basmati’ as a protected geographical indication in the EU.
  • Representing SES Vanderhave before the CJEU in the context of a preliminary reference made by the Belgian Council of State in annulment proceedings against a Belgian regulatory act temporarily allowing the use of certain neonicotinoids on sugar beet crops on the basis of Article 53 of the EU Plant Protection Products Regulation.
  • Successfully represented the CIVC and INAO before the EUIPO in several opposition proceedings based on the ‘Champagne’ designation of origin.

Loyens & Loeff

At Loyens & Loeff, employment expert Kris De Schutter is the name to note. The group offers a multidisciplinary service that includes corporate, tax and IP advice.

Practice head(s):

Kris De Schutter; Gert-Wim van de Meent