INTA Considers China a Big Priority
- IPR Daily interview with INTA's CEO Mr. Etienne Sanz de Acedo
The International Trademark Association (INTA) will convene its Annual Meeting Live+ from April 30 through May 4 virtually and in person in Washington, D.C., USA, after two years without a fully in-person gathering of the event. IPR Daily had an opportunity to interview INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo in the lead up to the meeting. Let’s see what’s new about this year’s Annual Meeting and what INTA is doing to address COVID-19 health and safety concerns at this year’s meeting.
INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo
Headquartered in New York, INTA is a global association of brand owners and professionals dedicated to supporting trademarks and complementary intellectual property (IP) to foster consumer trust, economic growth, and innovation, and committed to building a better society through brands.
Due to the sudden outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 INTA Annual Meeting, originally scheduled to be held in Singapore, was cancelled, and held virtually later in the year. INTA made process last year with it’s 2021 Annual Meeting Virtual+, a fully virtual meeting with small in-person mini-conferences held in Berlin, Los Angeles, and New York City. Nevertheless, over the past two years, countless IP practitioners have likely been reliving the last fully in-person Annual Meeting, which took place in Boston in 2019. The industry is full of vitality when there is no virus; at the same time, we are also eager to get together offline again.
The good news is that INTA members will reunite in person in Washington, D.C., this year! This will undoubtedly cheer the global industry and bring a boost to the international IP industry, which has been silent for a long time. According to Mr. Sanz de Acedo, this year's Annual Meeting has already attracted more than 5,000 participants from more than 100 countries globally, with more registering every day. And, while there is no doubt much excitement around the in-person event, it is coupled with a fully virtual event for those that cannot – or choose not to – travel this year.
The Upcoming 2022 Annual Meeting
INTA’s Annual Meeting is one the global IP community’s most important of the year. For the past two years, INTA held its annual meetings virtually instead of in person as usual, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But this year’s Annual Meeting that will take place April 30 through May 4 in Washington D.C. will be a “live plus” event. “We can now go to the live plus format, which means an in-person meeting, but still with a very strong virtual component, in particular, for friends from Asia and very specifically for friends in China, in case some of our Chinese members are not able to travel to the US,” Mr. Sanz de Acedo said.
He also said that INTA members across the world are very excited to meet in person again “to go to the educational sessions, to do business development, and to meet new friends.” Mr. Sanz de Acedo said, explaining that status quo of managing IP portfolios virtually over the last two years with the pandemic has prompted a sense of urgency among the Association members to have an in-person meeting this year. “Now, companies are really willing to either reinforce their partnerships with external councils or explore new partnerships, which means new business opportunities for law firms,” he said.
This year’s Annual Meeting will also look forward into the future with topics on economic value, diversity, equity and inclusion, and corporate social responsibility, among other key topics for brands today. “We'll talk a lot about the future of IP, particularly at block chain, crypto, and NFTs, and other emerging technologies. These topics are becoming more and more important, and these are topics where we need to have a global perspective on, including input from our Chinese members, which is so important,” Mr. Sanz de Acedo said, adding that he is encouraging all those who can travel to travel to Washington, D.C., to attend the meeting. “It’s really worth it!” he added.
What will be the new highlights of this year's Annual Meeting? According to Mr. Sanz de Acedo, they are as follows:
Strict Health & Safety Requirements
“Health and safety is our first and foremost priority. And this is why we're putting very simple but at the same time very strict measures for those who will be attending our Annual Meeting in person. We're requiring everyone to be vaccinated, to provide proof of vaccination, and also to provide a negative COVID-19 test result within the 48 hours prior to receiving a badge,” said Mr. Sanz de Acedo. “We want to make sure that everybody attending the meeting is fully vaccinated, so that everybody could enjoy the meeting.”
According to Mr. Sanz de Acedo, there will be seven thematic tracks this year. These tracks are Building a Better Society Through Brands; Complementary Rights, Regulatory Issues, And Brand Restrictions; Enforcement And Anticounterfeiting; Innovation And The Future Of IP, The Business Brands, and Regional Updates.
There will also be three education tracks for the virtual version of the Annual Meeting. One of them is Enforcement and Anticounterfeiting, the agenda of which is set according to the China standard time.
Business development is a key aspect Annual Meeting registrants, according to Mr. Sanz de Acedo. “We’ll organize a full set of business development opportunities, such as speed networking, which facilitates quick interactions between registrants. This year we’ll have more than 140 table topics, 15 of which will be moderated by corporate members. We’ll also have specific business development sessions and a full array of social networking activities, including 13 receptions, five of which be regional receptions. And we’ll also do them virtually for those who will not be able to attend in person,” Mr Acedo de Acedo noted.
Actually, INTA holds its business development and networking events not only during its Annual Meetings but also all year around. “We now host at least three different business development opportunities every month. This is why it is so relevant to be an INTA member, to benefit from the membership, because all those offerings are only available to INTA members,” he added.
Participation of Governmental Delegations
According to Mr. Sanz de Acedo, as usual, there will be a number of government delegations attending this year’s Annual Meeting, including one of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), headed by its director general Daren Tang. “We will be talking to WIPO about languages (used) in the Madrid Protocol and the importance of Chinese as one of those languages that should be recognized as part of the regime,” Mr. Acedo said.
As stated on INTA’s website, more than 40 delegations from different countries and organizations have registered to attend this meeting, which will host such events as India Reception, Asia Pacific Reception, Africa Reception, Middle East Reception, and Latin America and Caribbean Reception. The delegations are also of Abu Dhabi Customs, the International Intellectual Property Protection Association, the American Bankers Association, the American Apparel and Footwear Association, the American Intellectual Property Law Association, the American Red Cross, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization, etc.
Due to the pandemic, many people are not able to travel to Washington, D.C. Therefore, INTA adapted the “Live+” hybrid meeting format that includes a robust virtual program so that those who cannot come to Washington can participate online remotely. Through real-time live broadcasting, we, who are far away from the venue, can also participate in the event and watch the speeches of the world's top intellectual property experts.
The ‘Virtual Only’ sessions of the Annual Meeting will go along with the in-person one, aimed at connecting meeting registrants from around the world.
It’s partly true that the pandemic has made things difficult, “In fact we've really taken full advantage of this virtual technology. Last year, for example, we had what we call the ‘President and CEO Calls’ on a weekly basis with members from different countries. We were not able to travel in person, but we did travel virtually. We met with our members to see how they were doing. It was very rewarding for both the members and certainly for INTA,” Mr. Sanz de Acedo said.
During virtual meetings with its members, INTA continues developing business and networking opportunities while enhancing the Association’s educational offerings. “We looked into issues like diversity, equity, inclusion and The Women’s LeadershIP Initiative, as well as the future of intellectual property. All issues that are extremely relevant to our members worldwide.” Mr. Sanz de Acedo said.
Currently INTA has a global membership with around 6,500 organizations from 185 countries and approximately 34,000 individuals who are in some way engaged with INTA, according to Mr. Sanz de Acedo.
INTA canceled its 2020 in-person Annual Meeting, due to take place in Singapore, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The good news is that the 2023 Annual Meeting could be held in Singapore if “the situation of the pandemic becomes more stable, more endemic and if Singapore borders are open for major meetings,” according to Mr. Acedo.
Beijing as a Meeting Location
When asked whether it is possible for a Chinese mainland city to host an Annual Meeting, Mr. Sanz de Acedo said it is something for the INTA team to decide, adding that the Association has defined criteria by which it selects Annual Meeting locations, and that one of the things that make it particularly important for INTA to go to a specific location is to get a very heavy involvement from the local members and particularly the local corporations. “I think there are several very interesting locations in China where INTA could potentially hold a meeting in the future,” he said, suggesting Beijing is a natural candidate. “I personally very much like China. China is extremely important when it comes to the future of intellectual property and it's extremely important that China continues embracing intellectual property protection, both domestically and internationally.” he said.
INTA set up its representative office in China in 2004, which is the first one of its kind.
The importance of China to INTA, according to Mr. Sanz de Acedo, also shows in that the Association’s only non-English publication is its China Bulletin. “China is a big priority for the Association.” He said that INTA has three goals for China. The first goal is to support Chinese brand owners looking to expand into the international marketplace. The second one is to support international brand owners operating in China. And the third is to provide input to China's evolving legislative landscape “in a very respectful way.”
Mr. Sanz de Acedo noted that China’s 14th five-year-plan provides huge incentives and good opportunities for the IP industry and particularly the trademark industry. “We're here to support that. We think China has made huge progress when it comes to intellectual property protection. Of course, there is still a lot that can be done and we're sure that this is something that will happen over time and we're here to help,” he said.
We expect much from INTA’s Annual Meeting this year with what we heard from Mr. Sanz de Acedo. And we look forward to seeing many new achievements that this meeting will make this year! IPR Daily will follow up with INTA later in 2022.
Interviewer: IPR Daily - Camila
Editor: IPR Daily - Camila