‘It’s a rare op­por­tu­nity to rep­re­sent Nelson Man­dela’

Finweek English Edition - - Cover -

IN­TEL­LEC­TUAL prop­erty lawyer Don MacRobert is very busy thump­ing down on coun­ter­feit goods that show lo­gos and trade­marks of his high­pro­file clients be­ing sold by op­por­tunists world­wide aiming to cash in on their names.

MacRobert is proud to be flu­ent in isiZulu and fairly flu­ent in isiPedi. He says: “The nicest part about talk­ing those lan­guages is when you’re trav­el­ling in a lift and peo­ple start talk­ing about you.”

MacRobert, who is also known as Bra Don, takes care of high-profile peo­ple such as Ernie Els, Lu­cas Radebe, Ryk Neeth­ling, Johnny Clegg and Yvonne Chaka-Chaka. He also deals with prom­i­nent soc­cer and rugby teams, in­clud­ing Kaizer Chiefs, Sun­downs and the Blue Bulls. He pro­tects them by reg­is­ter­ing their names to pro­tect them from those who want to ex­ploit their names.

MacRobert has re­cently done work for Proudly South African. He says: “You won’t be­lieve that cer­tain peo­ple from main­land China stick a Proudly South African logo on coun­ter­feit goods. I have to go af­ter that. It’s a real racket.”

He re­cently rep­re­sented for­mer Pres­i­dent Nelson Man­dela and the Man­dela Foun­da­tion to pre­vent op­por­tunists mar­ket­ing Madiba as a com­mer­cial brand. MacRobert has taken ac­tion against a web­site reg­is­tered in Cyprus, which uses Man­dela’s name to so­licit do­na­tions, and a col­lege in the Nether­lands of­fer­ing “Man­dela” cour­ses.

He doesn’t charge Man­dela for his work, but it costs high-profile peo­ple R3 000/hour to con­sult MacRobert. “I’m very priv­i­leged to have rep­re­sented Mr Man­dela,” he says. Over the past 16 months he’s han­dled 80 mat­ters for the Man­dela Foun­da­tion. MacRobert is cur­rently a con­sul­tant to Ed­ward Nathan Son­nen­bergs, as well as Adams & Adams, as an in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty lawyer.

Through his as­so­ci­a­tion with the Man­dela Foun­da­tion he con­sid­ers him­self priv­i­leged to pro­tect the Man­dela name.

MacRobert plans to work part time or re­tire in three years, af­ter at­tend­ing the 2010 Soc­cer World Cup matches in SA.

Be­sides his ca­reer in law, MacRobert has served as a pres­i­dent of the Pre­to­ria Cham­ber of Com­merce. He also serves on the credit com­mit­tee of the IDC and has done com­mu­nity work in Soweto for 15 years, af­ter set­ting up the Get Ahead Foun­da­tion with Nthato Mot­lana and Arch­bishop Des­mond Tutu. He says that has served to en­hance those skills that have ben­e­fited him as a lawyer.

MacRobert speaks highly of SA’s ju­di­ciary sys­tem. “We can be very proud in SA of our le­gal sys­tem, be­cause it’s a strong one. It en­ables us to get jus­tice in many mat­ters, some of which in­clude high-profile peo­ple. I’m priv­i­leged to work in a sys­tem of jus­tice with high in­tegrity.”¤

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