Nathalie Dreyfus: An Attorney for Intellectual Property

Women in Business


To become an expert in a specific field, you must have sheer determination, well-equipped knowledge, and a march-to-reach attitude. Meet Nathalie Dreyfus, Founder of DREYFUS, a flawless personality who has beautifully portrayed the aforementioned traits throughout her life journey. She is an expert before the Court of Appeal of Paris and at the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Centre. She is one of the world’s leading intellectual property lawyers, specializing in trademark law, and practices as a French and European Trademark Attorney. 

Nathalie specializes in advising clients on a broad range of intellectual property law matters, specifically the protection and enforcement of trademarks, designs, copyrights, patents, appellations of origin, plant varieties, and domain names.

For intellectual properties

 Nathalie founded DREYFUS in 2004 with the intention of bringing something novel to the intellectual property field. Nathalie noticed that there was not a single firm that serviced clients the way they should be in her previous experiences. Hence, the inspiration to start her own firm became Nathalie’s vice to make a reality. Her curiosity about the evolving internet and its legal ramifications became a passion, leading her to establish her boutique law firm, Dreyfus, which has become a leading way into digital law in numerous French and international legal directories.

"Dreyfus prides itself on assisting its client’s hand-in-hand from start to finish."

Entering the Law

In high school, Nathalie excelled in studying mathematics, Latin, and Ancient Greek and hesitated between deciding to pursue a law degree or a business degree. In perspective, Nathalie began her career after completing her law degree near her hometown of France. Nathalie decidedly graduated with an LLM in Intellectual Property Law at the University of Paris Assas. During this time, she had the opportunity to study a year abroad with five other students as part of the ERASMUS program. This program is organized and managed by the European Union for education, training, youth, and sport. The ERASMUS (European Community Action Schemes for the Mobility of University Students) program provides opportunities for students to study or gain work experience in a different European country while completing their initial degree in their home country. Nathalie had the opportunity to attend Leicester University in the United Kingdom. She diligently learned everything she could about common law at Leicester.

Later, she decided to move to Paris to start her career as an attorney. She was more inclined to practice copyright law for artists and designers there. During this time, Nathalie applied to a copyright protection and collection society in Paris, namely SPADEM, for collective rights. Soon she was introduced to the Pablo Picasso estate, which was a turning point in Nathalie’s career. She applied to a law firm specializing in trademark and patent law, which led her further into the intricacies of intellectual property law.

After working hard to build her career in intellectual property and to become an expert in French and European trademark law, industrial designs, copyright law, anti-trust, unfair competition, counterfeiting, and technology, Nathalie realized an opportunity. She recognized an important niche where she could bring innovation, integrity, and efficiency to her clientsIt was time to start her own law firm. The firm was established, and Nathalie’s dream became a reality. 

A curse and a gift

Nathalie went with her gut instincts and decided to call the firm Dreyfus, which is where her first challenges began. The name ‘Dreyfus’ is not neutral because of its historical and political weight. As Nathalie refers to it, the name is both a curse and a gift. It is probably the most important reason that prompted her to stick with her choice of name to start up her firm. Historically, the name Dreyfus is often associated with Alfred Dreyfus, a French military officer who was involved in the most polarizing dramas in French history. He was charged with treason and then found innocent in the Dreyfus affair.

With this ‘weight’ in the name, Nathalie experienced indirect discrimination from very early on in her career, as sadly, many French IP law firms refused to work with her name. However, when Nathalie set up her own firm and went international, her name became synonymous, becoming a ‘true gift’ as the name Dreyfus was so appealing, due to its association with some popular entities globally. People were surprised when Nathalie began traveling abroad in the name of her new company. The name had its weight and still does, but it has also had a positive impact on people in the industry, which has been an encouragement when working with international clients. 

While founding Dreyfus, Nathalie’s objective was to always find solutions for her clients, no matter how complex the issue could be. To this day, Nathalie and her team at Dreyfus strive to bring innovative and pragmatic answers to complex legal questions and issues related to the protection and enhancement of intellectual property rights. Dreyfus has a balanced clientele, from large, well-known companies with big brands to smaller firms, including creators, artists, entrepreneurs, and start-ups. The team at Dreyfus works closely together to bring their clients’ projects and ideas to life, and according to Nathalie, it is always an absolute pleasure with a sense of pride to see their work yield fruitful results. Dreyfus prides itself on assisting its client’s hand-in-hand from start to finish.

Nathalie Dreyfus

Paving one’s own path

Nathalie mentions that it was a challenging time to start a French law firm, especially as a single mother. Not only were there dubious considerations regarding her choice of using her name for the firm, but also the unpredictable nature of juggling work and home commitments. Moreover, ‘a single mother running a business’ is falsely understood or considered as not fitting, and the glass ceiling effect was as real as it is termed to be. However, Nathalie was determined to succeed. With her entrepreneurial flair, Nathalie wanted to serve clients in a more practical, efficient, effective, and innovative way by making connections between intellectual property and technology. Additionally, she was keen to be in a position where she could offer experience and support to younger, forward-thinking, and ambitious female lawyers. Nathalie had to defy social expectations at the beginning of being a woman running her own boutique. Back in 2004, it was more difficult for women to enter the market. To be taken seriously, women had to prove themselves twice. Such challenges made Nathalie even more determined to establish strong teams within her firm to help focus on building the business and bringing a new style of client relationship to the intellectual property industry. She hired young, enthusiastic lawyers who were willing to work hard to help grow the business.

To this day, Nathalie has dedicated her time and experience to building Dreyfus into a well-known, integrity-driven law firm. She employs paralegals, lawyers, and consultants. Over the past few years, Nathalie has developed her own unique special internship program that provides opportunities for young, talented students and lawyers to gain experience and to be allowed to specialize in areas of intellectual property law. Her internship program ranges from six months to up to two years.

Another important attribute Nathalie holds is discipline, which has served her well over the past 18 years while building her firm. Her integrity, enthusiasm, and focus have been instrumental in maintaining her exceptional clientele list of long-standing relationships with globally recognized brands and companies of high standing, ranging from large, well-known international and French organizations to small enthusiastic entrepreneurs and start-ups. These dedicated clients remain with her for advice, oversight, and management of their intellectual property assets and requirements, a witness to the Dreyfus reputation for excellence.

Prepared for Web 3.0 

Recently, the Dreyfus law firm added new specialties to their areas of expertise, including online brand enforcement and compliance. The popularization of the internet led Nathalie to consider the concept of online brand enforcement. “Right now, the digital world is booming,” she says, “whether it’s Web 2.0 or now as we digitally transform to Web 3.0 scenarios and cases, there are countless new concerns relating to intellectual property and compliance.” With new technologies emerging at an exponential rate, participation in this sector is becoming increasingly important. Hence, she ensures their intellectual property rights and assets are protected.