INTA 2016: 3D Printing, gTLDs, Plain Packaging Threatening Brand IP

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INTA International Trademark Association

It was the largest INTA meeting ever! The International Trademark Association held its 138th annual meeting in Orlando, FL, May 21-25, with more 10,000 registrants from 140+ countries and 968 companies in attendance. With a full program of educational sessions, table topics, networking events and receptions, it offers a bit of everything for today’s trademark professionals.

Brands—and in particular brand protection—remain very much what this meeting is about:

  • With new gTLDs being launched every day, and a second application round rumored to occur in the next 2-4 years, enforcing rights is even more important than ever because you simply can’t own every domain name.
  • In a future where 3D printing will be commonplace, brands will face huge challenges when it comes to IP protection. (Experts have forecast that companies will lose $100 billion worth of IP due to 3D printing by 2018.) One panelist remarked that 3D printing will “take us back to being makers not buyers.” People who were once consumers will become producers, printing items at home where brand owners will have slim chance of catching such infringements. Because of this, he predicted that IP laws will get weaker over time and that the best protection for brands may be customization.
  • The threat of plain packaging abounds, where standardized packaging— which may become the norm for tobacco—could spread to other product categories.

Other topics on the agenda included how to ensure balanced enforcement of rights and avoid being a trademark bully; proving the fame of your brand in first-to-file jurisdictions where another party may have gotten the trademark registration first; promoting and protecting brands on mobile platforms; everything you need to know about #hashtags; and protection of immoral, vulgar and scandalous trademarks (“Are You Getting Down and Dirty in a Correct Way?”).

In his opening remarks, the CEO of INTA outlined the organization’s focus for the future, which includes harmonization and simplification of registration procedures, combatting the trade in counterfeits, dealing with the escalating issue of plain packaging, and minimizing the anti-IP sentiment that still exists—all initiatives that will benefit brand owners.

As the meeting was winds down, one important gathering is left: this evening’s Grand Finale at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!


Jerome McDonnell is Group Trademark Director at Interbrand. You can follow him on Twitter: @jeromemcd

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