INTA Leadership - The trademark world is far from perfect:

The trademark world is far from perfect. Like everyone, I’m far from unfamiliar with the notion of imperfection. Our lived experiences are full of inconsistent policies, the impact of legislation with unintended or unforeseen consequences, misunderstandings, miscommunication, mistakes and sometimes outright incompetence or malice.

From a global trademark perspective, the matter is further complicated by differences in Intellectual Property Office (IPO) systems, legislation, cultural norms, language barriers and a vast host of other international and domestic issues. These things are not a negative, however. Cass Hunter in her book, The After Wife (essential fiction reading for those of us interested in AI!) says “The driving force behind all human endeavour is dissatisfaction.” She might just be correct.

Striving for perfection:

On Thursday, 8th November a panel gathered to discuss how and why artificial intelligence and virtual reality will impact the industry and the inevitability of this future. The panel comprised Kat Johnston and Nikkya Williams from Facebook, Thomas Hamilton (Ross Intelligence, US) and Kollin Zimmerman (Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, US). The resulting discussion was a deeply interesting one, addressing not only these more futuristic concerns but also sharing insights about where we are as an industry today.

Nikkya Williams put forward the idea that each of us has a responsibility to push the trademark world forward. She said that everyone benefits where an IPO becomes more effective and efficient, for example. This is undoubtedly true. Being disappointed with the current state of affairs or feeling that they are lacking in some way becomes pointless without action, even if that action is only to share your thoughts with others and come together to discuss possible goals and steps towards creating something better.

Meeting at Leadership:

This concept is, of course, the key motivator behind the creation of the Leadership meeting. Prioritizing amongst the critical issues of the time, gathering people together, forming action committees to break down the known issues into digestible parts and begin finding ways to move those forward more positively.

But there is more to it than that. In discussing the benefits of attending Leadership with trademark attorneys from all over the globe, many felt that there are additional benefits that go beyond getting together to work on core problems and ‘giving back’ in some way to our industry. For those with clients who have international needs, the opportunity to meet colleagues from other countries and getting to know them on a personal level as opposed to picking them out of a phone book was clearly important to many.

Others felt that working in committees and meetings together helps to build relationships  and keep things civil where otherwise conflicts of opinion or practice could more easily arise. Everyone I spoke to mentioned that knowledge building, especially around trademark practice in other countries, was a critical factor in the decision to attend. It was pointed out that this kind of information is difficult to come by in any other way. Opportunities to meet and talk to those ‘on the ground’ in any particular region is an invaluable and irreplaceable benefit of Leadership for many, particularly as globalisation takes a stronger hold.

Looking into the future:

The trademark world will likely never be a perfect one where the systems of registration, monitoring and enforcement are seamlessly integrated with consistent global IPO practices. This is a good thing. This drives us all to share more, discuss more and work together to consistently expand our knowledge and refine and retune our thinking, practices and approach. And for those of you who were kind enough to share your thoughts, experiences and knowledge with me throughout the past week, I am eternally grateful.

Thanks is also due to the incredibly hard-working INTA staff who provided a flawless conference for a vast quantity of people, seemingly effortlessly. The staff at the Sheraton hotel in New Orleans also merit my gratitude, every query or request was met with instant resolution or action and we were plied with delicious food at every turn….and so the pre-Christmas diet begins!

It was my first Leadership meeting but will certainly not be my last. Thank you so, so much to everyone involved. I’m planning for next year already!


by Nadaline Webster.