Just one year after its first digital event (and while originally scheduled to be held with the participants’ physical presence in Houston, Texas), the “2021 Annual Meeting”, the International Trademark Association’s (INTA) established networking and educational event, welcomed online representatives of leading brands, legal advisors and attorneys, with intellectual property law as the common denominator of the discussions.
The event was moderated by Diane Lau (Lead Trademark Paralegal, Facebook Inc.) and Lorenzo Litta (Chief Business Officer, BrandIT GmbH) and participants were welcomed by INTA’s CEO, Etienne Sanz de Acedo, and INTA’s 2021 President and Vice President & Associate General Counsel of Oracle Corporation, Tiki Dare.
In his keynote address, Etienne Sanz de Acedo spoke about INTA’s transformation and adoption of digital tools, the initiatives in the area of ESG, and actions implemented to support women’s leadership and entrepreneurship. Summarizing the organization’s objectives for the coming years, Sanz de Acedo explained that these are based on three main pillars: promoting the value of brands, creating a better society through the work that brands do, and developing IP professionals.
Etienne Sanz de Acedo spoke about INTA’s transformation and adoption of digital tools, the initiatives in the area of ESG, and actions implemented to support women’s leadership and entrepreneurship
INTA’s CEO also mentioned two initiatives that the organization is going to implement in the context of the 2022 Annual Meeting, which will be held from April 30 to May 4, 2022: the “Carbon Off-setting Initiative” that will allow the Meeting’s attendees to offset their carbon emissions due to their travel to Washington, where the Annual Meeting will be held, and the “Green Swag Awards”, a competition that will reward the most innovative and sustainable solutions from suppliers.
Tiki Dare then referred to the undeniable benefits of diversity not only for people, who are given equal opportunities to develop in social and professional environments, but also for the company itself, for which diversity is an extremely valuable tool, capable of unlocking ideas and prospects for growth.
The event was structured around key themes such as DE&I policies, the corporate social responsibility of brands, the use of technology by brands and IP lawyers, the protection of intellectual property rights, and legislative and jurisprudential developments in trademark law.
The first day of the event was dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion. Among the speakers, representatives from companies such as Amazon, Gowling WLG, Compaq Industries, Virgin Group, BBC Future Media discussed the power (and at the same time the responsibility) that brands have towards consumers and the world, the ways in which brands can support the growth of women and minority entrepreneurship, and the value of a culture that embraces diversity for both consumers and businesses.
The second day of the Annual Meeting included topics related to measuring the value of brands as business assets, the corporate social responsibility of brands, the values and initiatives brands are taking to support their employees, consumers and minorities, and the role of brands in regulated markets such as gaming and alcohol.
Through practical examples and the analysis of recent court decisions, the panelists shared with the participants best practices and tips for improving the level of service delivery and the effective communication between legal advisors and their clients
It is also worth mentioning the session entitled “The Holistic Brand Lawyer: Stretching Your Practice Beyond Trademarks”, in which participants discussed the characteristics and qualities that legal advisors should possess – including the ability of the lawyer to understand, comprehend and manage not only legal but (especially) business risks, such as those related to communication, public relations and a company’s image. Through practical examples and the analysis of recent court decisions, the panelists shared with the participants best practices and tips for improving the level of service delivery and the effective communication between legal advisors and their clients.
The protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights was the focus of the third day of the event, where representatives from the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), Starbucks USA, 3M and Procter & Gamble spoke about the ways in which a business can defend its rights even with a limited budget, the role of technology in securing and protecting intellectual property rights, the importance of educating consumers and a brand’s partners to combat counterfeiting and piracy.
INTA chose the fourth day of the Annual Meeting to present its dynamic Strategic Plan for 2022-2025, which is based on progressive thinking, strategic planning, and dynamic implementation.
In its closing session, the event focused on issues related to, among others, bad faith when filing a trademark application, the ever-evolving legislative framework and its interaction with the intellectual property ecosystem, the analysis of European and US case law in trademark cases, and the “Genericide” phenomenon, where the average consumer associates a trademark with a specific category of goods or services rather than with the source of origin of a product or service.
The Annual Meeting program was complemented by educational workshops, round tables and panel discussions with speakers from all industry sectors, as well as the INTA Café, a digital café for social networking of participants during the five-day event, which allowed interested parties to make contacts with colleagues and potential clients as if they were in a physical space.