Another INTA annual meeting has come and gone. And with over 11,000 registrants from 150 countries in attendance at this year’s Seattle, Washington location, it was the biggest annual meeting yet. This year’s attendance statistics included 2,674 first time attendees, 1,254 corporate members, and 275 officials. It’s estimated that the conference pumped $20 million dollars into Seattle’s economy and helped support 4,763 jobs in the area.
Numbers like these go hand in hand with big impact, and that included an awe inspiring Opening Ceremony. The conference kicked off Sunday and included fish throwing, origami, and a surprise concert as current president, Tish Berard, blew the audience away with a cover of a Nirvana song.
The primary theme for this year’s annual meeting revolved around how brands can affect change by changing their perspective on the world and how companies can use brands to bring order to the marketplace. In short, it’s up to brands to help drive forward the fight against counterfeiting and piracy by taking new and innovative approaches to old problems, and that sometimes even the smallest change can lead to major results in the long-term.
Along with this rallying cry, Berard issued a sobering warning, reminding attendees that while brand value is increasing, brand equity is threatened as the critical roles of trademarks and brands are being diminished in the marketplace. Her solution to this problem? Urging brands to embrace innovation and IP professionals, and by themselves becoming the drivers of change rather than the products of it.
Berard’s opening remarks were followed by keynote speaker Neil Lindsay, VP of Global Marketing, Prime & Engagement at Amazon.com, Inc. discussing brand sustainability through the idea of being “customer-obsessed.” Lindsay emphasized that caring about every single customer experience takes “lots of hard work, every day,” but that it should be at the core of any brand looking for longevity.
The Opening Ceremonies concluded with a look forward, with a reminder that INTA is firmly dedicated to consumer protection, innovation and change, the value of brands, and enterprises of all sizes.
Deciding which seminars, round tables and presentations to attend meant having to make hard choices as there were many incredible topics to choose from. We made sure to attend “Session CM02 THE REDSKINS and THE SLANTS: A Review of the Causes, the Cases, and How the First Amendment Is Likely to Impact Trademark Registrations Going Forward.” Not only was it an opportunity to listen to a thorough and enlightening discussion surrounding the world of offensive marks and the First Amendment, but it also gave AppDetex a chance to catch up with Simon Tam, rock star and activist who successfully won the right to use the name “The Slants” for his band following a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court in 2017.
Other topics of discussion at this year’s conference included the pharmaceutical industry and the potentially deadly consequences of counterfeit drugs, how brands can work hand in hand with officials to help stop counterfeiting both domestically and internationally, a look at the growing problem of fakes and knockoffs in sports memorabilia, Data Privacy and the GDPR, the hazy world of cannabis trademarks, and a deep dive into the ongoing battle surrounding Champagne as an IP.
The conference may have spanned just five days on the calendar, but with all the seminars, workshops, panels, and events to attend, not to mention receptions and networking opportunities, the days were a whirlwind of activity.
Packing up Wednesday night was a bittersweet moment. It’s always hard to say goodbye to the new friends and contacts made but we were excited to come back and share everything learned during our time in Seattle.
Of course, saying goodbye is always easier when we know it’s not for forever, which is why we’re already looking forward to next year and INTA 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts.