The International Trademark Association (INTA) is a not-forprofit membership association of more than 5,900 trademark owners and professionals, from more than 190 countries, dedicated to the support and advancement of trademarks and related intellectual property as elements of fair and effective national and international commerce. The Association was founded in 1878 by 17 merchants and manufacturers who saw a need for an organisation ‘to protect and promote the rights of trademark owners, to secure useful legislation and to give aid and encouragement to all efforts for the advancement and observance of trademark rights.’ INTA has been established for 132 years and now plays a major role in shaping global policy on trademark legislation and advancing the professional knowledge and development of the trademark community.
Networking Opportunities Membership of INTA provides a tremendous opportunity for trademark professionals and trademark owners to network with other members and make a significant web of global contacts to aid their businesses going forward. Alan C. Drewsen, executive director of INTA, says that the annual meeting attracts between 7-9,000 members each year and is an opportunity for corporate members to meet with their outside counsel. He said: “The annual meeting attracts up to 9,000 people each year, and is an excellent opportunity for corporate members to meet individually, or as a group, with their outside counsel. They don’t need to fly them in to their offices, or have teleconferences because everyone is there, they can talk and let them know what is expected for the coming year. Many also meet opponents and resolve disputes on the spot. There are real networking and business opportunities.” INTA’s latest conference event was held in Vienna in early December and focused on European trademark issues and the development of new strategies. The event was attended by Francis Gurry, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and Wubbo de Boer, President of the Office for Harmonisation of the Internal Market (OHIM). Mr Drewsen also attended the event and said the meeting was a good chance to combine education with networking opportunities
Shaping Policy The influence that INTA has over global bodies such as WIPO, as demonstrated by the Vienna conference, is a big advantage for members. The organisation is able to put forward its views on individual trademark legislation and protection in specific countries or to influence the decisions of bodies such as WIPO. Mr Drewsen says that influencing overarching policy is certainly one of the goals of INTA. He said: “We aim to harmonise global trademark law and policy to the greatest extent possible, as our members want the maximum certainty over protection of their trademarks. We have model trademark laws, model examination guidelines and model anti-counterfeiting processes to help members understand the protections available to them. There are also international
treaties such as the Madrid Protocol and the Singapore Treaty that provide some harmonisation regarding how trademarks are protected. We work to try and get as many countries as possible to accede to those treaties as a way of harmonising global law. If we can’t harmonise, then we go in to certain national jurisdictions and comment on their regulations, while giving them the benefit of our accumulated experience regarding the most effective way to protect intellectual property.” INTA has an international reputation, not only for knowledge and expertise, but also for a balanced perspective on trademark law and practice. It has very strong relationships with national patent and trademark offices and other organisations such as OHIM and the China trademark office. Mr Drewsen added: “We have good relationships with many intellectual property and patent organisations. We act as non-governmental observers to WIPO meetings. We nurture our relationships with them and regional agencies such as ASEAN and EU, which are valuable to our members.”
Education, Information and Country Portals INTA has a full range of academic programs providing essential educational and networking opportunities for professors and students of trademark law. There is also an e-learning program providing customised educational experiences that can be used by members in a flexible fashion and accessed via the internet. The courses cover such things as the basics of trademark law and international filing strategies under the Madrid Protocol. The courses can be important for trademark professionals as they provide Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits to comply with state legislation in this area. INTA has developed a set of country portals which provide a valuable resource for trademark professionals. Each portal holds specific information on the trademark laws of a particular country and makes it easy to search for resources such as treaties between specific countries, case law from that particular legal system, or other IP organisations with a presence in that country. It also allows members to find other INTA members in different countries and gives them the possibility to refer clients to a trusted source.