An internship with trademarks in 2007 attracted Karolina Tallberg to a special IP branch where the importance of diverse practical experience cannot be underestimated. You can only become a true brand protection professional by working and learning from your more experienced colleagues − and by taking on more responsibility as you gain expertise.
Karolina Tallberg's career has been inextricably revolved around brand rights and especially trademarks for fifteen years. However, the profession was not an obvious choice for her.
- In my childhood and adolescence, I dreamed of becoming a writer or an actor. I read a lot of books, enjoyed writing, and acted with great enthusiasm in a drama club. Learning the dialogue was fun and inherently quite easy for me. There was a lot of imaginative attraction in these professions representing the creative industries, Karolina recalls.
The attraction of the creative industries also contributed to the fact that after secondary high school, Karolina’s original plan was to start university studies in English philology, English language, and literature. Languages and internationality fascinated her, but after thinking about what professions they lead to, she decided to change her field of study.
- I didn't want to be a teacher and I realized that literature was more of a hobby than a profession for me. I decided to study business administration and marketing, because I wanted to keep the doors open for as many professional directions as possible.
A lucky coincidence opened the door to the world of trademarks and brands
On the advice of a relative, Karolina ended up applying for an internship in the trademark industry as part of her marketing studies. Since then, there has been no need to look for open doors to other sectors.
The world of trademarks and brands is a fascinating but very special field of IP law that requires both extensive and deep expertise. You can only qualify as a trademark specialist or trademark attorney through work experience and under the guidance of more experienced colleagues.
- When I entered the industry, I didn't know much about trademarks. My first task was to send renewal certificates for trademarks registered in Finland to foreign and domestic brand holders. Now that I look back in time, it feels even a little weird and funny to think that anyone's job tasks nowadays could be so one-sided and restricted. During my career, the trademark industry, legislation, and industry practices have changed a lot, says Karolina.
However, the biggest change concerns her own job role.
In fifteen years, Karolina has become a true professional in trademark protection processes and international practices with extensive expertise. She is also well prepared to act in special situations and manages country-specific exceptions.
- I feel privileged to have been able to work with brands so extensively and internationally. On the other hand, I am also grateful that I have been able to accumulate knowledge and responsibilities gradually and thoroughly, step by step.
-Now I dare say that I have a good knowledge of all the practical measures needed to build and manage a brand rights portfolio at different stages, throughout the lifecycle of trademarks and other brand rights. I know how the registration processes are progressing, what are the registration office practices in different countries, what challenges may be encountered during the application stage or because of competitors’ actions later, and how to react in these situations, Karolina describes the entirety of her expert work.
An experienced trademark specialist is an attorney-paralegal hybrid
Over the years, Karolina has assisted numerous Finnish startups, SMEs, and large companies in trademark protection in the export market, but also holders of the world's most significant brands in trademark and counterfeiting cases in the Finnish market in close cooperation with trademark lawyers.
At its best, the work is effective teamwork, where the roles of paralegal and attorney overlap and mix.
- A former colleague I greatly appreciate developed a job title that describes this “fusion of roles” quite well: an attorney-paralegal hybrid. I feel this term is also suitable for me, says Karolina.
There are encouraging examples in the trademark industry of how it has been possible to qualify and transfer from the role of a paralegal to the role of an EU trademark attorney and an authorized trademark attorney in Finland through long work experience. However, in addition to work experience, the authorization requires completion of a demanding attorney's examination.
The idea of authorization to act as a trademark attorney has begun to mature in Karolina's mind as a natural continuation of her career and a goal for the future.
- I have been following the work of attorneys closely for a long time, and I know the requirements of the role, so I have started thinking: why not? The attorney examination could be the next step for me to develop and take on more responsibility in my client work.
The Kaulo & Partners’ team trusts each other and plays well together
When handling client assignments, Karolina says that she often thinks about what her attorney colleagues Jani Kaulo or Maria Puronvarsi would do in a certain situation.
- There are situations where I would really like to get inside their heads, to see from which angle to approach a client’s question. I know the registration processes well and have a good overview of portfolio management, but often the clients’ questions are much more multidimensional and linked to the company's business, Karolina describes the challenges to give "correct" advice.
In her work, she has seen that companies often use trademarks as a tactical weapon against their competitors. The processes of opposition, appeal, cancellation, and invalidation can be very multi-step and complex.
- When business, strategies and legal advice are linked, I really appreciate the expertise of both Jani and Maria. They can always be trusted, they make things move forward, and they provide good advice for their clients and support also my work.
The feeling of belonging to the work community is important to Karolina. The Kaulo & Partners team trusts each other and has grown together.
- When Jani called me when establishing the company and asked if I would like to join Kaulo & Partners, the reasons that made me decide to join this already familiar team were the appreciation of expertise and the good team.
- It is a homely feeling to work together when you know that you share the same view of the trademark business, client and expert work, and the way assignments are handled together. Everyone’s opinion will be heard, and you can really influence your own work. I think such a work community is unique.
Sipoo close to heart – family and house project number one hobbies
Karolina was born in Sipoo, and it is also the most important place in the world for her. She spent happy years studying in Helsinki, completed part of her marketing studies in Ireland, returned to Helsinki, but Sipoo's special place in her heart always remained.
- I'm a very family-oriented person. I lived in Helsinki for thirteen years, but I always thought I would like to return to Sipoo at that point in my life when I will have my own family. I now live with my husband and two children in the rural landscape of my own childhood in Sipoo, surrounded by relatives. My grandmother, my own parents, my sister with her son, and my uncle live in the neighbourhood.
Karolina names spending time with her family and doing things together as her main hobby. Building a house on “family lands” has been the most important joint family project during the past couple of years.
- It has been a big project for us, and it has taken up all free time, because we have done a lot ourselves and with the help of our relatives. We moved into the slightly unfinished house before Christmas 2019, just before the pandemic began. The corona time went comfortably in our new home, and it was nice to work distance from the home office, Karolina recalls.
There are still things to be finished in the house, so small projects with the family will continue. The goal for next summer is to build and equip terrace and yard areas and plant green areas.
Audiobooks, podcasts, and grandma project
The childhood dream of becoming a writer still affects Karolina’s leisure time. When she wants to relax, she still enjoys reading books. More often, however, she is multitasking by listening to audiobooks or podcasts.
- When others listen to music, I listen to audiobooks and podcasts on current topics from my headphones while jogging, mowing the grass, building, painting, or in the evenings before falling asleep. It's quite therapeutic.
A 91-year-old grandmother living next house to Karolina often gets lunch company. They have a “secret” documentation project ongoing, related to grandma’s youth and wartime memories. The childhood dream of becoming a writer now materializes in the form of the grandma project.
- She has a lot of fun stories to tell, for example, about my uncle, who was a lively child and enjoyed pranks. We have also gone through a lot of her memories of the war years. My grandmother's father and brother were at war, and many people fleeing the Helsinki bombings were seeking shelter in the countryside and lived in my grandmother's house in Sipoo. These memories are valuable to preserve for new generations.