The Wednesday afternoon session of this year's MARQUES was rather less taxing than the morning. It opened with a presentation by Erin Hennessy (Time Warner) and Rick McMurtrey (Turner Broadcasting System) on the challenges that session chairman Ken Taylor (Marksmen) would face in seeking to protect and create an online and market presence for the Wee Tot Folk - a merchandable cartoon concept aimed at the four-12 year old consumer. The IPKat thought this was an extremely well-crafted act, carefully scripted, accurately timed, pertinently illustrated and a good blend of serious legal issues and humour.
Right: here's one question that plenty of conference participants were too shy to ask: "what do the letters WTF stand for?"
Merpel has quite a different view: this presentation wasn't going to reveal any issues that an expert audience of IP practitioners weren't already familiar with, which is why over 550 participants couldn't come up with a single question between them -- it should have been part of the entertainment programme, not the conference proper.
The final session of the day was a pretty serious one: a review of legislative and regulatory instruments to protect the young consumer. This panel session, chaired by OHIM's Director of General Affairs and External Relations Joao Miranda de Sousa, featured contributions by two local speakers - Manuela Botelho (Portuguese Association of Advertisers) and Cidalia Almedia (Marketing Manager of the Juice and Drinks Division of Compal). Tackling the ethical issues arising from protecting the young while making them a source of profits, plus the self-interest versus other-interest balance inherent in every type of commercial self-regulation, was guaranteed to generate a good deal of thirst. This in was slaked by the nocturnal visit to Taylor's Port Quinta - the perfect place to sample one of Portugal's best-known products.
Left: Taylor's Port maturing in the casks. Right: OHIM's Ingrid Desrois and Juan Rubio reflect upon the pleasures of a glass of Port.
This weblog recently mentioned the new OHIM Communication on streamlining the bureaucratic side of handling Community trade mark oppositions (see earlier post here). He has since received this comment from a well-informed colleague who prudently chooses to remain anonymous:
"You know what the problem is? All that streamlining is not used to release energy for spending more time on the actual decision but to release people and reduce the OHIM workforce even more. At the same time the average time spent on a single matter (not on procedure but on the legal handling of the case) goes down and down.
Another "novelty" (a code word for "back to the practice in 1997") is that applicants now receive several oppositions to the same application on different days, meaning that they have to manage numerous deadlines at intervals of 1 to 10 days. Sometimes oppositions are notified and deadlines are set before the opposition period is even over. This leads to applicants making efforts to settle one matter only to find out later that an "absolute killer" opposition has also been filed - and that their efforts with respect to the first opposition were entirely in vain. It is difficult to see what OHIM can gain from this apart from embellishing its own statistics regarding the duration of individual oppositions".