Rainmaker Lawyer - Example

Milan - Rome - Naples

Hugo Boss case

Caso Ugo Boss

 

Among the cases I still remember with satisfaction was the one in which I was involved, as a Rainmaker Lawyer, against the giants of the HUGO BOSS Group in Metzingen.

 

My clients, the owners of a quite good, but not less important, Italian Business which made shirts, had been holders of the HUGO brand since 1960 compared to the HUGO "HUGO BOSS" brand that the German Business, on the contrary, had made operating in Italy in the apparel industry in general only since 1993.

 

It is unusefull to say that between the two businesses, there was a disparity in size, organization, commercial and financial network in favor, of course, of the HUGO BOSS Group.

 

The German brand was well known throughout the world, from the United States to the whole Europe except for one country: Italy!

 

A defallance that had to be completely filled in the great land of fashion and that imposed to the German Entrepreneurs a heavy financial and advertising investement for hundred millions euros (which later proved to be completely disastrous) so that their brand could become renowned in a short time.

 

A financial commitment that, despite the approaching of an obvious BT Factor that appeared later, was stopped neither by the managerial staff of the HUGO BOSS Group nor by their own lawyers and consultants but, on the contrary, was further pursued because of the politic, economic, commercial and financial team characterizing the German Business itself, that, among the other things, was listed on the Stock Exchange.

 

So, on a scale of values and sizes, the meeting between the Italian Business and the HUGO BOSS Group could be compared to the biblical episode about David and Goliath: also in this case the "giant" came off worst.

 

But let's go back to the "event" and to what were my activities as a Rainmaker Lawyer in that event.

 

Thanks to the "word-of-mouth" I was contacted by the owners of the Italian Business.

 

They informed me they had already consulted their Legal Department as well as an important "Law Firm" specialized in the field in order to protect their own HUGO brand in front of the massive, continuous, advertising and commercial action the German entrepreneurs through their own HUGO "HUGO BOSS" brand had been putting in place since some time.

 

They pointed out that such a propaganda of the trademark took place in relation to the "perfume's" area, such as the ones produced and marketed under the same brand from EUROCOS COSMETIC GmbH in Frankfurt and distributed in Italy by PROCTER & GAMBLE SpA Rome.

 

I was also reported that both the Legal Department of the firm and the "specialized Law Firm", had sent several recorded letters to warn them but till then there had been neither a feedback from the concerned companies, nor even the advertising and commercial action had ended.

 

They concluded telling me that the various consultants and professionals, whom they had turned to, had advised them to bring an action about which they could not guarantee any outcome in view of the "omnipotence" of the German Business and, finally, that "costs" would be very high since the case should take place in Germany.

 

Therefore, they asked me what I as a Rainmaker Lawyer thought!

 

Immediately understood two things:

   

In other words, the relation confirmed the cultural gap to make use of appropriate and specific "trust instruments" (like on the contrary this event required) and at the same time, it was also putting in relief how the information provided both from the Legal Department of the company and by the "specialized Law Firm" itself, were only imbued with the principles of governance, oligarchy and independence of the free profession that, taken all together, had certainly neither convinced nor satisfied the owners of the Italian Business who for this reason had turned to me.

 

In fact, after this reflection, after revising the relation, after verifying some situations by means of targeted questions, at the end, I asked the clients what they really wanted to get: in short, I invited them to tell me exactly which was their entrepreneurial thought about the situation.

 

Their answer was: they were certainly willing to protect their brand but at the same time, they also wanted to get some economic benefits, without, however having to face with heavy costs, investments and/or economic resources in general.

 

I replied that the only economic benefit for them in the immediate future was the use of their HUGO brand for clothing in general and not just for shirts.

 

When I pointed out this solution, I immediatly realized they felt a sense of unease because, like the clients themselves, in a reductive way highlighted, their Business was not equipped for the manufacture of clothing: I realized that the time was not ripe to propose the proper solution (the solution was to have the clothing items made by third parties) and for this I waited until the entrepreneurs themselves considered this solution as the right one.

 

In fact, what I'm saying here, is what in most cases happens since an entrepreneur is always firmly attached and accustomed to his cliché, especially if thanks to his commercial and financial style, has achieved and contiues to achieve excellent results, over the time.

 

In such a context, indeed, he is hardly ready to support other risks even if such a thing is aimed at increasing his earnings: it is necessary for him to have new and special stimuli so that all this can mature in him.

 

After the first meeting, I went several times to the base of the Italian Business in order to closely examine which were the "potentialities" in the event of a possible legal conflict, and I was able to establish that the evidence available was more than sufficient to support a "case" if proceedings were initiated by the HUGO BOSS Group and not by us: in this case, in fact, the trial would have surely been held in Italy.

 

At the same time, I had with the clients continuous relational exchanges for the study, evaluation and research of the solution of their goals and I quickly kept only those aspects which, in practical terms, were in line with their expectations and made them the first players in the decisions that were gradually beeing taken.

 

Soon take shape the possible strategies: on one side, began to take shape the opportunity to make use of the HUGO brand for all items of clothing since the owners of the Italian Business had finally seen an opportunity to have the clothing items made by third parties, on the other side, given that the brand had an absolute protection solely on the national territory, began to glimpse even the real possibility of being able to sell but on the condition that the purchase offer came from the German Business and were clearly commensurate to a thirty year value of "it".

 

Therefore, as a Rainmaker Lawyer, having to make things happen in the sole interest of my clients, I started a further sequence of relational exchanges, going several times both to the headquarters of the HUGO BOSS in Italy and to the main one in Germany.

 

I started to put myself in a harmonious way between the "protagonists of the relation" in order to smooth the "roles of antagonism" that the letters of formal notice had created before and I tried to lead the buying bid.

 

This strategy was to bear fruit because I had been able to establish a direct relationship which proved to be useful the day after the "war" declared by the HUGO BOSS Group.

 

Indeed, before a constant attitude of superiority the German Business had toward the Italian Business, considering it an insignificant business and not in a position of possible business enterprises, I was able to make my clients understand that it was time to put into effect the first phase of the agreed strategy.

 

Due to the thick commercial network existing throughout the national territory for the sale of the shirts, the Italian businessmen started to use their own HUGO brand on all clothing items in general that, on the occasion, were made by "third parties".

 

Soon the HUGO BOSS Group in Metzingen, the EUROCOS COSMETIC GmbH in Frankfurt, and PROCTER & GAMBLE SpA Rome were invaded by the BT Factor that I myself had occasion to note in one of my many monthly visits at their offices.

 

They had to impersonate the figure of the mythical giant Goliath, and soon, summoned the Italian Business but cashing in an unexpected disastrous result: during the brief proceeding, in fact, all their products with the HUGO "HUGO BOSS" brand were put under destraint.

 

Such a "court order" and the subsequent issue of merit which lasted for many months, on one side favoured only my clients who continued with great success to increase their markets and their gains and, on the other size it penalized the German Business that, in addition to a large loss of hundred millions euros for an advertising uselessly promoted, the block also had to endure the marketing of its own products in the great land of fashion.

 

With such a scenario, I continued in my sequence of relational exchanges starting to wave again the second stage of the starting strategy.

 

I was able to verify that what had happened, by virtue of my work as a Rainmaker Lawyer, had caused a real earthquake among the leaders of the HUGO BOSS Group which also led to several resignations, layoffs, changes in role and also strict censorship by the same shareholders of the Company.

 

A little later, the Business in Metzingen had to yield and therefore, there was a transaction in which my clients gave their brand over but under the budgeted expectations (just to give you an idea, the profits, after only 2 years of relational exchanges, were equal to a turnover equivalent to 5 years of working activity).

 

Now, the conclusions.

 

In short, the case highlighted:

 

Therefore it is really true... "Where all think alike, nobody thinks very much".

 

Thank you for your attention