To Dream the Impossible Dream ——2019 INTA Annual Meeting Kick off in Boston

Yvonne Wang, China IP,[Patent]

From May 18 to May 22, more than 11,100 brand owners , trademark practitioners, and other (IP) professionals from more than 150 countries gathered in Boston, Massachusetts—a city known as "the cradle of American history", for the 2019 Annual Meeting of the International Trademark Association (INTA) to discuss timely topics that impact brands, consumers, and local and global economies.
 
Known for being the world's most widely attended trademark event, INTA's 141st Annual Meeting marked a record registration. The event comes at a time when the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) takes on increasing importance, and when brand owners worldwide are considering the opportunities and challenges in the rapidly changing global IP environment.
 
There were more than 300 seminars at this year's INTA annual meeting, involving topics of Brexit, China's anti-counterfeiting, and the determination and punishment of counterfeiting on e-commerce platforms. Other critical emerging issues such as AR and VR, big data, blockchain, 4D printing, and protection of virtual characters also received attention.
 
The Annual Meeting drew trademark and other IP professionals from major corporations and law firms, as well as small and medium sized enterprises, service providers, and high-level officials from national, regional, and international IP offices. 
 
As one of INTA's China's official media partner for many years, China IP set up the booth on the Annual Meeting, and reported the event to its readers on the spot through WeChat official account, helping more Chinese IP industry colleagues explore the international market, as well as helping foreign IP industry colleagues to enter the Chinese market. The trademark special issue of China IP Magazine drew attention of IP professionals from the world, especially the Top 15 Trademark Cases of China in 2018, followed by speeches of judges Lin Guanghai and Yang Boyong on the 2019 China IP Annual Forum, showing all aspects of present development situation of China's IP industry is evolving.

Etienne Sanz de Acedo, CEO of INTA
 

Giving back-bikes for kids charity event
 

Opening ceremony of the 141st INTA annual meeting
 
The opening ceremony
At the Opening Ceremony on May 19, David Lossignol, president of INTA and head of trademarks, domain names and copyrights at Novartis Pharma AG, Switzerland, issued a call "to make counterfeiting socially unacceptable," as part of his presidential initiative, Brands for a Better Society.
 
"My childhood dream was about my home country France winning the FIFA World Cup," Mr. Lossignol kicked a football on stage, and his dream has come into reality twice. He then unzipped his French football team jacket to reveal his bright red Manchester United football shirt to show the audience of his passion for UK football club Manchester United. "Manchester United is not just a football club, but also a brand. All brands embody dreams because brands are inspirational and represent a lifestyle for their customers or fans—to aspire to." he said.
 
An important part of INTA's mission is to educate consumers and brands on the threat counterfeits pose to trademarks, consumer trust, and the wider society. After describing how INTA is working to address the production and supply of counterfeit products, Mr. Lossignol said more actions need to be done to address consumers' demand for fake goods.
 
"This is an impossible undertaking if we only address the supply. It is critical but we must also fight this battle on the demand side," he said. "This requires us to rethink and reinvent our approach to counterfeiting. We need to change perceptions and attitudes toward IP and counterfeit goods." This ties into INTA's just-released attitudinal study, Gen Z Insights: Brands and Counterfeit Products, which was the focus of a session on May 19. The multi-country study explores Gen Z's relationship with brands, uniquely looks at purchasing decisions of both real and counterfeit products through a moral vs. practical lens, and offers brand owners a road map to communicating with these 18 to 23 year-olds.
 
Among the major findings of the study, the top two factors influencing opinions about counterfeit products are morals and income. While 48 percent of respondents "do not think it is okay or it is totally not okay" to purchase counterfeits, income beat out morals by 10 percent globally.
 
"We want to remind people how trademarks help to communicate quality and support corporate social responsibility efforts, for instance," Mr. Lossignol said. "One way in which the role of trademarks is being diminished in the marketplace is close to home for us in this room. This is counterfeiting," he declared. "We have an opportunity here to make counterfeiting socially unacceptable on a global scale." In the end, he concluded, "if we all work together, a world without counterfeits is not an impossible dream."
 
China IP's booth at INTA
 
Strengthen corporate social responsibility 
Today, more and more companies are aware of their responsibility to change the world and promote a better society. INTA set an example of corporate social responsibility during the Annual Meeting to create opportunities for business people to give back to society. There were many charity activities and programs at this year's INTA Annual Meeting. One of them was Bikes for Kids held on May 18, where participants assembled bikes in teams and donated the bikes to children in need. In addition, INTA is giving back to the community by organizing volunteer days, donating clothing to job seekers, and providing job opportunities. Such philanthropy help build consumer trust in business and is a pillar of INTA's 2018-2022 strategic plan.
 
Mr. Lossignol set up a presidential task-force called Brands for a Better Society, whose goal is to show how brands help society as a whole and to remind people of the importance of trademarks for corporate social responsibility. Meanwhile, during the opening ceremony, Mr. Lossignol announced the start of the Unreal Challenge, a new initiative to support the efforts of INTA's Unreal Campaign, which educates teens on the importance of trademarks, brands and the danger of counterfeit goods. The consumer-awareness campaign is a committee-run initiative in which INTA members make educational presentations to students in schools around the world.
 
Preview of the 142nd INTA Annual Meeting
The 2020 Annual Meeting in Singapore will be INTA's annual meeting in Asia for the second time. In 2014, INTA held its 136th Annual Meeting in Asia for the first time in Hong Kong, China. Following the success of the event, INTA's board approved a rotation strategy to host its annual meetings outside the United States every three years.
"Choosing Singapore to host the INTA Annual Meeting in 2020 gives our global members the opportunity to meet again in a preferred location to learn and discuss issues of interest with IP professionals, government officials, consumers, and society as a whole," said Mr. Lossignol, current president of INTA.
 
Located in Southeast Asia, Singapore is one of the largest and fastest growing markets in the world. It is the best choice of hosting INTA Annual Meeting, with a vibrant environment, cultural diversity, convenient access and achievements in the IP field. It is an excellent choice of host city for an INTA Annual Meeting.
 
"We are honored to play the host to the world's largest and most widely-attended IP conference— INTA's 142nd Annual Meeting in 2020," said Daren Tang, chief executive of Intellectual Property Office of Singapore. "This mega conference will connect Singapore's innovation ecosystem to the global community of trademark experts and IP professionals who will build on each other's best practices and expertise, sharing thoughts, leading conversations on creating strong brands to differentiate winning enterprises from others."
 
Jeannie Lim, executive director of Conventions, Meetings & Incentive Travel and assistant chief executive of Singapore Tourism Board, added, "Our city serves as the ideal platform for this prestigious event. Here, delegates can learn, engage and discover new possibilities, go on to enjoy the cuisine, and experiences what our city has to offer outside of the event. We look forward to welcoming this event to Singapore in 2020."
 

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