The team is joined by GuestKats Mirko Brüß, Rosie Burbidge, Nedim Malovic, Frantzeska Papadopolou, Mathilde Pavis, and Eibhlin Vardy
InternKats: Rose Hughes, Ieva Giedrimaite, and Cecilia Sbrolli
SpecialKats: Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo (TechieKat), Hayleigh Bosher (Book Review Editor), and Tian Lu (Asia Correspondent).

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

INTA Grapevine Symposium: 7th and final report

IPKat team blogger Jeremy has never had a better chance to speak to a literally captive audience than in the final session of INTA's Advanced Trademark Symposium in Grapevine, Texas. A storm of majestic proportions materialised out of nowhere and grounded the entire fleet of aeroplanes at Dallas/Fort Worth that were poised to spirit several of the symposium's participants away before the close of the event.

Right: the Gaylord Texan - venue for the symposium - keeps its architectural features dry, even in the worst storms, with a vast glass roof

Resuming their seats with at least the appearance of good humour and resignation, the thwarted early-leavers were treated to all the thrills of "Internet Hot Topics", the session being moderated by Ellen Shankman (she of the eponymous law firm) and featuring contributions from Jeremy himself, Daniel J. Cooper (Fox Interactive) and Laura Hauck Covington (Yahoo!).

Jeremy opened with the unsurprisingly un-hot (and uncool) topic of trade mark auctions on the internet. He focused on three issues: why internet auctions are a good idea, why no-one is using them much as a means of selling trade marks and what a wealth of problems - due diligence and otherwise - are thrown in the face of anyone seeking to make such a purchase. He related the sad tale of the attempted eBay auction of the CRAZY EDDIE trade mark, where the $30,100 at which the mark was withdrawn fell a long way short of the $800,000 "buy now" pricetag.

Daniel followed, giving the perspective of the carriers of user-generated content (his company owns MySpace) about take-down and immunity issues relating to internet service providers. He reminded the audience that the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMVA) had no legislative counterpart for trade marks, and questioned whether the DMCA, the Communications Decency Act or the Lanham Act's little-known exemption from liability for innocent printers [whatever "innocent" means here] might provide workable models for achieving a satisfactory balance of interests between IP owners, ISPs and their customers. He also analysed the legal issues following the take-down demand made on behalf of Prince in onnection with an unauthorised cellphone snap taken at the artist's concert (Prince's sign - now thought by some to be a cryptic copyright symbol - is featured here, right).

Laura then spoke openly of trade mark and other IP issues affecting multifunctional web-based operations such as Yahoo! In describing flickr's licensing structure she stated a profound truth concerning the sad reality of human life on the web: "no matter what sort of service you put online, people will eventually turn up on it".

Laura then contrasted old hierarchical models for web use with the new horizontal and interactive regime of Web 2.0, echoing in more discreet terms the coarse refrain of the new web generation that if you want to exploit your IP on the internet, you have to be prepared to lose some control over it - even if all you are doing is seeking to promote cooperation and the creation of user-generated content based on your own IP. Finally she reported on the latest developments regarding ICANN, the GNSO and suggested means of control of domain tasting.

By common consent, this was a successful symposium. Not much drinking was done (check out the etymology of 'symposium' if you're not sure about this allusion) but, to compensate, there was a good deal of thinking. It was well worth the effort to attend.

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