Why was Intellectual Property so interesting for you, and how did the Cardozo School of Law positively affect your career, Mr. Zohny?
Daniel Zohny: My main focus is on protecting brands. Brands tell stories to consumers. Protecting the goodwill inherently embedded in the stories and the many ways that third parties try to illicitly benefit from this goodwill fascinate me. Also, the principles of trademark law are similar worldwide. For an in-house lawyer, it is, therefore, easier not to get “tied” to one country and be flexible as to where you may find a position.
My studies at Cardozo certainly helped define my career, since it was during that year when I finally decided that it’s trademarks that I want to focus on in my professional life.
Regarding the points why you chose this law school, were they confirmed or even surpassed?
Daniel Zohny: On an academic level I had expected a good faculty when I made the decision to join Cardozo. I have to admit that my expectations were exceeded. We had great professors at the time with, inter alia, Susan Crawford, Barton Beebe, and Justin Hughes. I know that the current program carries on the tradition of having excellent and engaging professors. From a cultural and personal point of view – it’s New York City!
Visiting it as a tourist is one thing. Experiencing it by living there is a totally different ballgame. In my eyes it was a privilege to have had the opportunity to study in NYC. I took full advantage of it and made contacts inside and outside of Cardozo, many of which I am still in contact with today. Some of my LL.M. classmates became very close friends. Ultimately it is a very valuable network, both personally and professionally.
Furthermore, you are leading today a large team of IP professionals at the FIFA. Can you give us an example of your daily work there?
Daniel Zohny: As head of IP I lead a department of currently nine specialized IP professionals and oversee all aspects of conceptualization, registration, maintenance, and enforcement of FIFA’s IP, including the implementation of FIFA’s enforcement program for the FIFA World Cup™ tournaments both online and onsite in the relevant host country during the event. Furthermore, I’m responsible for FIFA’s ticketing enforcement efforts. Our department is a service provider to internal clients, mainly to the commercial division, since FIFA’s portfolio is a very “active”, income-generating portfolio. This requires a very commercial mindset and the ability of our team to find business-oriented solutions. We strive to be enablers, not disablers.
Which case was the greatest challenge for you there?
Daniel Zohny: I cannot point to one single case. Having the opportunity to work on projects all over the world, getting to experience and dive deeper into jurisdictions where FIFA stages tournaments, such as Russia and Qatar, has its challenges but is ultimately very gratifying. It never gets boring and keeps you on your toes.