Over the weekend more than 10,000 trademark specialists, IP professionals and 150 universities from around the world arrived in Barcelona for the 139th International Trademark Association (INTA) meeting.
INTA is the global association of trademark owners and professionals dedicated to supporting trademarks and related intellectual property. The Association’s member organizations represent 30,000 trademark professionals and include brand owners from major corporations as well as both small and medium-sized enterprises, law firms and non-profits. There are also government agency members as well as individual members.
In short, everyone who is anyone in the trademark world is associated with INTA in one way or another. And while the entire trademark community cannot always make every annual meeting, INTA annual meetings are spectacular events that draw enormous crowds. The 140th annual meeting is already scheduled for Seattle Washington, and will take place from May 19, 2018 through May 23, 2018.
The Opening Ceremony
During the opening the ceremony, 2017 INTA President Joe Ferretti highlighted the changing role of brands — moving from a focus on the functional attributes of products to becoming part of a social identity. More than ever, he commented, brands are being shaped by consumers.
Mr. Ferretti suggested that companies should assume a broader role as brand stewards to empower consumer engagement. If firms understand where brands are going they are in a better position to anticipate the challenges ahead.
“So today, I challenge all of you to evolve in your roles, too. Embrace the role of brand steward.”
The Keynote Address
On Sunday, May 21, Annual Meeting registrants heard from Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, Spain’s Minister of Education, Culture and Sport and government spokesperson. Giving the Keynote Address at INTA’s Opening Ceremonies, Méndez de Vigo said that there are still many important issues, such as the protection of trade secrets, the fight against counterfeits, and the protection of creators’ rights, particularly in relation to the digital world.
“Only we and not the passage of time can shape the present,” said Méndez de Vigo. “Time will say nothing but I told you so.”
Méndez de Vigo began by demonstrating the Spanish government’s determination to protect innovator’s rights, “not only because it is our obligation, but because it is our conviction.” He made it clear talent must always have a price and that it should be rewarded. Believing the fight against anti-piracy should be communicated through the school curriculum so as to reach children at a young age, Méndez de Vigo, added that infringing creator rights should be explained to students as stealing.
“We want to raise an anti-piracy generation,” he explained, adding that neither piracy nor stealing are “acceptable in our legal framework.”
The Brexit Effect
The Minister Méndez de Vigo also referenced current events effecting the industry, particularly the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, more commonly referred to as Brexit. Méndez de Vigo acknowledged that Europe is at a turning point. As a Member of European Parliament, Méndez de Vigo is convinced of the European Union’s importance and the need to have a common purpose based on freedom, security, and the respect of basic rights. For a new unified IP environment to function, IP professionals are faced with new challenges to address in an increasingly global world.