“Unlike the several other major conferences canceled in the U.S., approximately 98% of those registered for IPWatchdog CON2020 are coming from within the Continental United States. With over 300 people expected in Dallas for the event we will proceed as scheduled.”
We are in the final preparations for IPWatchdog CON2020, which is scheduled for March 15-18 in Dallas, Texas. We have been receiving inquiries regarding the latest coronavirus (named SARS-CoV-2) and the disease it causes (named “coronavirus disease 2019” abbreviated COVID-19). These questions and concerns are understandable given that many events around the world have been canceled, and several major events inside the United States have been recently canceled as well.
We have been following news of the virus, both in the popular press and from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We have also been very closely monitoring how others, such as the National Basketball Association (NBA) and other sports leagues, are handling gatherings. We also note that SXSW, which is expected to bring over 417,000 people into Austin, TX, is proceeding as planned and the Austin Public Health Department has not requested SXSW be canceled.
“There is a lot about COVID-19 that is still unknown, but what we do know is that personal hygiene is of critical importance,” said the Austin Public Health Department when speaking about SXSW. “We hope that people follow the science, implement the recommendations of public health agencies, and continue to participate in the activities that make our world connected.”
What we also know is that every night in America many hundreds of thousands of people gather in many hundreds of stadiums across the country, sitting in very close proximity to each other as they watch professional basketball, college basketball, hockey, boxing or wrestling. There has been no suggestion by the government or CDC that these sporting events should be canceled, postponed or proceed in empty arenas.
“At this time, however, most people in the United States will have little immediate risk of exposure to this virus. This virus is NOT currently spreading widely in the United States,” the CDC explains on its coronavirus webpage (emphasis in the original).
While some major U.S. companies have taken the extraordinary and quite public step of forbidding employees from all domestic travel within the United States, these domestic travel bans go well beyond anything recommend by the CDC or any public health organization.
As many are undoubtedly aware, the U.S. government has taken unprecedented steps to suspend entry of foreign nationals who have been in China and Iran within the past 14 days due to the outbreak of this virus. The CDC has also issued travel guidance recommending the avoidance of nonessential travel to China, Iran, Italy and South Korea, enhanced precautions if traveling to Japan and usual flu precautions if traveling to Hong Kong.
Unlike the several other major conferences canceled in the U.S., approximately 98% of those registered for IPWatchdog CON2020 are coming from within the Continental United States. We did have some early registrants from Asia, who were in communication with us as the virus was developing and decided it was unlikely they would be able to attend. We do suspect the virus is responsible for so few international registrations, but with over 300 people expected in Dallas for the event we will proceed as scheduled.
While we understand concern over the virus, given everything we know about SARS-CoV-2, the recommended best practices remain to follow recommendations to avoid the flu (i.e., washing your hands frequently and vigorously for 20 seconds; covering your mouth when coughing; etc.).
Finally, with the International Trademark Association (INTA) having canceled its planned Annual Meeting in Singapore in May, and other large-scale IP conferences likely to be affected, IPWatchdog CON2020 represents a smaller-scale and safe opportunity to network with IP stakeholders in the first half of this year.
We will continue to monitor the situation, and should the CDC or U.S. government ban domestic travel, we will reevaluate as required.
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