One of the outcomes of my every-increasing interest with the "MBA" side of IP is the way that IP is handled by the company at the organizational level. By this I mean that the question to be asked is where, in the organizational chart, does responsibility lie? With respect to IP, articles on the topic tend to identify a job category described as "patent counsel" or "IP counsel".
When one drills down further to learn more about this job category, more often than not it turns out that this position has a patent registration/prosecution focus. Sometimes the job category includes a patent strategy function, sometimes that task is either shared with or is the responsibility of another person within the organization. Be that as it may, trade marks trends to get "second chair" (or no chair) status under the patent counsel or IP counsel job category. Thus, while patent counsel interfaces with engineers, product development managers, and the like, in-house trade mark counsel will interface with a quite separate and distinct part of the company, such as marketing, advertising and corporate communication.
The second is the staffing of trade mark matters in a start-up situation. There, where the organizational structure tends to be flatter, we find a particularly interesting combination of functions that are brought together to deal with trade mark matters: a person from marketing or corporate communication together with the company's CFO or the equivalent. This combination makes for a particular challenging environment for the company's outside legal counsel, particularly outside trade mark counsel, in trying to manage the application and registration process.
This is so because it is the CFO, and not the marketing person, who usually has the last corporate word on the subject vis-à-vis outside counsel. The main driver for the CFO is, not surprisingly, usually the expense dimension of the process. This puts the marketing person in a delicate position. On the one hand, the CFO's preoccupation with the expense side means that the marketing person will have to toe the line on expenses as well. On the other hand, the marketing person will want to carve out her own identify in the process, particularly vis a vis outside counsel. A certain tension follows, particularly if the marketing person is unschooled in the trade mark registation.
Both in the brand manager situation and the corporate communication/CFO situation, one common denomonitor stands out. Both positions tend to be ignored when discussing how IP is organized and managed within the company (unless, of course, one is talking about a Dior-like company). Why this is true is less clear (perhaps it is a simple as the old adage that "real men do patents"). Whatever, the handling of trade marks within a company poses its own distinct organizational characteristics.