“I joined NLO’s accounting department in 1981 after having studied French for a year. The European Patent Office had just been established and was generating a large volume of international correspondence. The other thing I particularly remember from that time is mountains of paper. Before long, I’d found ways of doing things more efficiently, such as putting all the correspondence from one client in a single envelope; that was already a major step forward. Eventually I came to manage the department and grew with the organisation. We became increasingly client-focused, went digital and had to start working more transparently, partly due to the rise of the internet. I organised the first PR activities and carried on with them until they were professionalised into an independent department. We also launched a business development unit to come up with new services; that’s now staffed by a three-man team.
And about nine years ago, we switched to a fully paperless office. When we moved to new offices in The Hague a couple of years later, we came across 27 moving boxes full of old documents. Among them I found an account of how four NLO staff were killed in an Allied bombing raid on the nearby offices at Kleykamp in the Second World War. The building had been commandeered by the Germans, and the raid was carried out by the RAF at the request of the Dutch Resistance.
In books on the subject, I read about a certain Jaap who’d worked in the Kleykamp building and passed strategic information to the ‘bombing committee’ of the Dutch government in exile in England. Jaap himself was killed in the raid he helped to bring about, and I’m now on a mission to prove he didn’t die in vain. I’ve assembled an entire archive about the raid, and even located the models the RAF used to plan it. And when I attended a trademark conference in Seattle recently, I took the opportunity to visit a descendant of Jaap’s in Canada. Through him, I finally got hold of a photo of our hero. All that’s now missing is the document he smuggled to England - the final proof of his heroic deed - which I’m still searching for. When it comes to hunting for information, I can be very determined. I once spent years looking for a particular pressing to add to my record collection!
Because the work is so varied, I reckon there are still plenty of challenges ahead for me at NLO. Email, for example, will become less and less important, and that will be an interesting development. Sometimes, though, I’m amazed by the lack of historical awareness among my colleagues. Not just about events that took place in the war, like the one I’ve just described, but also about how things change. Younger colleagues who’ve recently joined the organisation think it’s all a bit old-fashioned. But back in the 1980s you couldn’t have foreseen the development of the paperless organisation and large open-plan offices.”
2018 was a special year as it’s the year NLO celebrated its 130th anniversary. Over all those years, there’s one specific element that really forms the core of our firm; our people. Professionals who put all their effort in helping clients in any way they can. However, they are far more than IP professionals. We would like to give you some insight in the real people behind NLO. We proudly introduce to you some of our colleagues. This Thursday: Marc Krisman.