The law firm Gowling WLG created an AI-powered tool to tackle brand infringement — it could be a game changer (2024)

  • Gowling WLG specializes in brand protection, which is usually a laborious task.
  • The firm uses a proprietary AI system called Saturn to identify trademark and brand infringement.
  • This article is part of "CXOAIPlaybook" — straight talk from business leaders on how they're testing and using AI.

The law firm Gowling WLG created an AI-powered tool to tackle brand infringement — it could be a game changer (1)

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The law firm Gowling WLG created an AI-powered tool to tackle brand infringement — it could be a game changer (3)

For "CXO AI Playbook," Business Insider takes a look at mini case studies about AI adoption across industries, company sizes, and technology DNA. We've asked each of the featured companies to tell us about the problems they're trying to solve with AI, who's making these decisions internally, and their vision for using AI in the future.

Gowling WLG is a multinational law firm headquartered in Ottawa, Canada, with more than 1,500 lawyers in 20 offices worldwide.

The firm was formed in 2016 after the merger of a Canadian company with a history dating back to 1887 and a UK-based law practice. One of the firm's specialties is brand protection, which involves tracking down and stopping infringements on businesses' trademarks, brands, or designs.

Situation analysis: What problem were they trying to solve?

Corporations need to protect their trademarks, but not all instances of infringement are equal, and different cases require different responses.

"Reputation is key for global brands, and businesses need to avoid the risk of negative PR that can come from pursuing smaller infringers or overzealous fans," John Coldham, a partner and the cohead of Gowling WLG's global trademarks, brands, and designs team, told Business Insider.

But that process is extremely labor intensive. "Traditionally, trainees, articling students, or new associates would search the internet looking for online infringers, submit individual takedown notices, and enter everything manually throughout the process," Coldham said. "It took forever and could only address a few transgressions at a time."

The law firm Gowling WLG created an AI-powered tool to tackle brand infringement — it could be a game changer (4)

Speeding up the process and making it more efficient would help the firm scale its work. The company concluded that the best way to accelerate tasks would be through using AI — so it developed a system called Saturn.

Key staff and partners

The Saturn project was led by the Gowling WLG's trademarks, brands and, designs team and Khemi Salhan, a principal associate on the UK team.

The system was developed with a third-party provider that Gowling WLG declined to name. Now that it's live, the service is coordinated and overseen by Gowling WLG's intellectual-property lawyers.

AI in action

Coldham told BI the idea for Saturn came about after a Gowling WLG associate was appointed the brand-protection manager for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England. "They saw directly from the client side how difficult, onerous, and expensive brand protection can be," Coldham said.

Saturn not only automates the process of searching for content infringement online but improves upon it by adding legal analysis and strategy to those results.

"It is a subscription product where the tech helps identify when clients' products and marks are being used illegally," Coldham said. Gowling WLG's lawyers can then advise a company on the best course of action after it's identified infringement.

The Saturn system can also scan the worldwide IP landscape and offer suggestions to owners of copyrights and trademarks about where to devote their time, effort, and money.

Did it work, and how did leaders know?

Coldham said early tests of the system have proven successful.

"The technology learns how to identify likely infringements of each brand better, leading to improved search results over time," he said. "It can perform global searches, provide reports, gap analysis, and issue takedowns centrally rather than one by one."

Beyond that, the system can also identify fake web shops, the infringement of domain names and brands on social media, and search for infringing and counterfeit products, Coldham said.

What's next?

Collaboration with clients is key to Saturn's future success, Coldham told BI. "As this is a recently launched service, we are working closely with clients to gather their feedback to implement new features," he said.

While implementing new features will be a work in progress, Coldham said Saturn has demonstrated its adaptability to integrate changes and improvements.

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The law firm Gowling WLG created an AI-powered tool to tackle brand infringement — it could be a game changer (2024)


Who is the CEO of Gowling WLG? ›

Steve McKersie is the chief executive officer of Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP and co-chair of the firm's international board.

Who is David Fennell CEO? ›

David Fennell is the chief executive of Gowling WLG (UK) LLP. He also serves as the co-chair of Gowling WLG's international board.

What is Gowling known for? ›

Focused on key global sectors, including energy, financial services, life sciences, natural resources, infrastructure, real estate and tech. Around the world, our 1,500+ legal professionals and dedicated business support teams apply our deep sector knowledge to understand your business and help you succeed.

How many lawyers are at Gowling? ›

As an international, sector-focused law firm with more than 1,500 legal professionals around the world, Gowling WLG is here to help you overcome your complex business challenges.

Who is Ben Fennell CEO? ›

Ben Fennell, CEO and Founder

Before founding THE GROWTH HOUSE, Ben spent over a decade running BBH London as CEO, helping some of the world's biggest businesses and brands to grow.

Is David Fennell a Republican? ›

What is the structure of Gowling WLG? ›

Gowling WLG International Limited is an English company limited by guarantee, in which the two limited liability partnerships of Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP and Gowling WLG (UK) LLP are members. Legal services are provided by the two partnerships, which are financially separate.

How big is Gowling? ›

Gowling WLG is an international sector-focused law firm with more than 1,500 legal professionals in 20 cities across the UK, Canada, Continental Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South America.

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