Our secondees at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games have taken on a number of different roles, and in this latest blog we hear from Kate Hawkins, senior associate in the IP team, who took on the role as brand protection manager for 10 months in 2021.
To bring the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games to life, the Government put in place a new piece of legislation – the Birmingham Commonwealth Games Act 2020 (“Games Act”). The Games Act sets out a number of temporary measures to support the successful delivery of the Games, including criminal offences for unauthorised advertising and trading in and around Games locations. Details of these offences are set out in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games (Advertising and Trading) Regulations 2021, which is something I helped develop when I joined the Birmingham 2022 legal team in January 2021.
We needed to help the Government prepare regulations around who can advertise and trade in certain areas of Birmingham and the West Midlands at Games time, particularly around the competition venues and in the city centre. Part of my role as brand protection manager involved working through the responses to the Government’s consultation on the measures, providing a view on behalf of the Games on the proposed exceptions to the offences, undertaking site visits and preparing draft maps showing where the measures will be in place and on what dates. I was also engaging extensively with numerous stakeholders on the impact of the measures on businesses, taking the measures through the Games’ internal clearance processes, and ultimately helping the Government in the development and drafting of the regulations. I also prepared the guidance document explaining the new legislation.
These regulations help to protect and enhance the Birmingham 2022 brand and the exclusive rights of Games sponsors, and ensure there is a consistent look and feel across all Games locations, so it’s really important that they are robust and were in place well ahead of Games time.
Another key element of my role was to work with the marketing and sponsorship teams on the strategy, clearance and protection of the Birmingham 2022 brand family, including the Perry trade marks and designs and marks for The Commonwealth Collective, the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay and the Birmingham 2022 Festival. These assets can be used by the Games, Birmingham 2022 sponsors and authorised partners only, and the Act allows the Games to take action where an organisation is promoting an unauthorised association or using a brand asset without permission.
The enforcement work was really interesting and not something I’ve been involved with before. I worked with a lot of people who had worked at major sporting events before, and hearing their experiences really helped me get to grips with what to look out for when monitoring for infringements and how to prioritise enforcement action. Often just calling an infringer or sending a relatively friendly email does the trick, but if needed it can be escalated to more formal civil action.
Birmingham 2022 is a project that is years in the making and that comes with an unmovable date, making it quite a unique experience for all those involved. I worked relatively independently within the Games’ legal team, and whilst I had worked in-house before, this was a completely new experience.
I’m part of the firm’s advertising team, so I don’t usually do trade mark or enforcement work. The secondment was a great opportunity to broaden out what I do and expand my experience. The role involved liaising with multiple stakeholders, including local authorities, venue owners and sponsors, and strategic work with the government, which I’d never done before, so I returned to my team with lots of new skills.
One of the major advantages of going on secondment is the commercial pragmatism it gives you and an appreciation for the bigger picture of a business and what clients are trying to achieve. It’s good to take this back to your regular role as it helps you understand the pressures your clients are facing on a day-to-day basis.
I kept in touch regularly with the team back at Gowling WLG whilst on secondment with bi-weekly meetings, which followed on from the the pre-secondment meetings I had to help prepare me for my new role.
I always felt really supported by my Gowling team, which I really valued as it was sometimes quite intense being a team of one within the secondees. I am based in London, but I was able to come up to Birmingham regularly once lockdown lifted and do site visits and meet with the wider team at B2022 It shows you don’t need to be on a client’s doorstep to undertake a secondment and do a good job – especially if they’re open to agile working arrangements.
When I returned to the IP team in September 2021, my role at Birmingham 2022 was taken over by senior associate Khemi Salhan. I continued to work closely with the Games, supporting on advertising and trading regulatory work, marketing claims and campaigns and preparation for brand protection during Games time.
It’s fantastic to step back from the day-to-day and think I’m working on the Commonwealth Games, something I might never get the chance to do again. It has been a great experience and I can’t wait now for the Games to take place this summer.
To find out more about Birmingham 2022 and how we’re playing our part as the Official Legal Advisers of the Games, read our story so far.