Manuel da Cunha Ferreira is a fifth-generation member of the Cunha Ferreira family working as an Intellectual Property Official Agent (IP Official Agent). A.G. da Cunha Ferreira was born in the 19th century and, since then, commitment to clients has always been a top priority for this firm, focused on protection of Intellectual Property. This firm has lived and survived through two World Wars and, now a pandemic, but work has never stopped and clients continue to see their requests fulfilled. Adjustment is an essential requirement for this 140-year old firm and Manuel da Cunha Ferreira explains how.
What can be considered as “Industrial Property” and what is the importance of protecting it?
Intellectual Property can be defined as a set of rights arising from human creations and is divided into two main branches: the first “Author’s Rights and Related Rights” and, the second “Industrial Property Rights”, regarding trademarks, patents, designs, among others. Although registration of these rights is not mandatory, it is highly advisable that the same be carried out. Only this way will one have access to all the statutory enforcement instruments available for pursuing and protecting one’s rights.
In fact, taking for instance the case of the Industrial Property Rights, their registration will allow the owners of respective exclusive, to protect themselves from a non-authorized use of their patents, trademarks and designs while assuring there are no identical or similar creations to the ones of their own. Therefore, it is our aim to raise awareness in the market as to the importance of this kind of rights as a fundamental asset for a company and, therefore, to alert for the need of their registration. Moreover, we try to underline and emphasize that the registration of their rights is only the first step towards the defense of the same, since this defense must be constant and permanent.
This firm has lived through two world wars and its staff never ceased to fulfill their functions. In the challenging times we are undergoing presently, which adjustments were made to assure your clients that you would continue being totally at their service as usual?
Firstly, we were able to make a quick and efficient transition to remote work, assuring that all the firm’s staff would continue to have the same tools that they had for fulfilling their functions at the firm’s head-office. We were also able to assure the maintenance of all the staff members, all of them with an essential role for the good functioning of our firm. Moreover, we have made it possible for our clients and our Industrial Property Official Agents to be in contact at any time, either by telephone or email, which has eventually rendered their relationship even closer.
How did you manage to continue serving your clients during the two World Wars?
Compared to the current “war” we are in at the moment, at those times there was an additional difficulty, the high limitation of the existing means of communication. That is why, during the Second World War, A.G. da Cunha Ferreira decided to assure the maintenance of all the client’s rights, even without having instructions from the same. We would obtain, subsequently, the due instructions and whenever clients did not wish to maintain their rights, the respective costs would be borne by A.G. da Cunha Ferreira. Our main aim always was, and still is, to never put at risk our clients’ rights, even this could entail losses for our firm.
Are all your staff members working remotely?
Yes, at the moment, all our staff members are working work from their homes. With the means and tools that currently exist, the transition took place with no major problems. It was a different challenge, but we could adjust just as easily, as done during the long history of our firm.
What is your overall assessment of this period of work?
Taking into account the inherent difficulties concerning the period we live in, I have to make a positive outcome. It was a different situation, with features of its own, which allowed us to come to very interesting conclusions regarding the Modus Operandi we had. It also served to confirm what we already knew, that we count on an excellent team, full of very professional and dedicated individuals, both to the firm and to the clients.
What was the difference felt in the market?
All businesses in general have suffered with the outbreak of this pandemic, and ours was not an exception. To give you an idea, in March 2020, approximately less 25% trademark applications were filed with the Portuguese Industrial Property Institute than in the previous month. As one would expect, the priorities of people and companies were focused on other matters, but now, that life of companies and workers is more and more integrated in this “new normal”, the market is starting to respond positively.
What do you feel as a great-grandson of the founder of the firm and as a fifth-generation of IP Official Agents in the family?
First of all, it makes me feel proud and honored. There are not, certainly, many firms which can be proud of having such a rich and long history as A. G. da Cunha Ferreira, with many members of our team making their entire professional careers always in the same firm and, moreover, having several generations of the same family continuing the effort and work dedicated to the life of this firm.
What do you anticipate for the future of A.G. da Cunha Ferreira?
In an era of globalization, where the power of Intellectual Property, either trademarks, patents or others, is becoming stronger and stronger for the success of the business, the protection of the same is essential. This applies either to small, medium or large companies. Our expectation is that the demand for Intellectual Property intensifies, and, therefore, the mission of A.G. da Cunha Ferreira is to ensure that we will continue to respond to the needs of our clients with the excellence and dedication that we have accustomed them to. For such purpose, we have strong foundations, sustained on 140 years of know-how, which enabled us to develop a team of highly specialized professionals, guided by integrity, accuracy and commitment in the prosecution of their duties.
Manuel da Cunha Ferreira, Partner e AOPI
13 May 2020