I just recently left Singapore, where the lush gardens and iconic city skyline served as the backdrop for The International Trademark Association’s (INTA) 145th Annual Meeting. This was the second time that INTA’s Annual Meeting was hosted in Asia and the first time in Southeast Asia. While the location was originally planned for the 2020 Meeting, as with most things in life, the pandemic put that on hold. Despite the immense humidity, 8,000 influential brand and IP professionals from around the world came to the Lion City to share their thoughts regarding future considerations for brand owners and the business of innovation.
One consistent theme throughout the conference was that new challenges are facing brand owners today. Several factors appear to be changing the landscape for brands across various industries including, without limitation, the facts that: (1) counterfeiting is on the rise; (2) the value of intangible business assets is increasing; (3) new countries are becoming IP powerhouses due to global trade; and (4) emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), NFTs and the metaverse, are changing the way in which consumers interact with the world around them.
The conference focused on ways in which businesses could promote a culture of innovation, while maintaining an adequate level of IP protection. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) reported that in the last 10 years, the number of active trademarks globally has grown from 30 million to 70 million. Turning to the States, Kathi Vidal, Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), spoke to those in attendance and said that the number one question she has been asked in the past year is about NFTs and the metaverse. Similarly, she noted that almost every day in her role with the USPTO she experiences new issues related to AI. While she indicated that AI is bigger than the USPTO, she also said that the USPTO wants to be a fast adopter of responsible AI.
It was clear throughout the Annual Meeting that the legal landscape around IP is evolving and that marketing is becoming a more immersive and interactive experience for consumers. As a result, brand owners will need to remain focused on a nimble and comprehensive approach to IP protection in order to achieve a successful business model.
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