For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

Two of our regular Kats are currently on blogging sabbaticals. They are David Brophy and Catherine Lee.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

The IPKat at INTA - a report

What with so much going on and so many members of the intellectual property fraternity in attendance (the attendance is estimated at some 8,500), it would be hard to cover every facet of this year's International Trademark Association Meeting in a single blog, and readers' patience might be tried by a succession of postings, so this report will just focus on a few of the many things that might have been written. Anyone wanting to know more is welcome to buy IPKat blogger Jeremy a drink or two and he'll spin them a suitable yarn ...

Right: a sight you won't see right now: the ICC without any INTA participants milling around

For those intimidated or infuriated by the vastness of last year's Meeting venue, the ICC was cosily convenient -- though some found it close and cramped at peak periods. The IPKat has never understood why some people, when they reach the top of the escalators, just stand there rather than make way for those being conveyed behind them. Perhaps this selfish conduct is a metaphor for partners in IP practices blocking the way for those who rise behind them. The meeting rooms and halls were however spacious and could have accommodated larger audiences if those intent on networking could be persuaded to attend the programme's wide selection of talks and discussions.

The IPKat was more engaged than usual in this year's programme. He attended the Professors' Breakfast, at which a selection of trade mark-friendly academics from around the world spent a pleasant 90 minutes or so exchanging ideas with INTA office-holders, staff and committee members as to how best a body of teachers might link in with an organisation controlled by trade mark owners and largely populated by their legal representatives and professional advisers. Graeme Dinwoodie led the discussion, seeking to provoke some positive responses as to how academics might both nourish and feed from the resources of INTA. The IPKat observed that INTA was much warmer towards teachers now than it was in the 1980s, since an increasing proportion of conference participants had now studied IP law and appreciated the benefits of those who taught it. He also suggested that the academic contingent might brand themselves within INTA as a sort of catalyst or facilitative body, enabling INTA's regular members and practitioners to bounce ideas off the law teachers, ask questions, commission research and generally harness the available academic brain power.

The IPKat then participated in the "Dormant mark" session. Moderating this slot, Verena von Bomhard played the part of in-house counsel to a pharma company that wanted to register the word PHARMAGIANT in Class 5 as a house mark in the European Union and Switzerland, having discovered that earlier national marks PHARMAGINT and PHARMAGANT were registered for the same class, together with the earlier Community trade mark GIANT. None of these marks had been used during the previous five years. The panellists (Giovanni Casucci, Michael Ritscher, IPKat blogger Jeremy and Ekkehard Stolz) collectively the Cariphisto law firm, were asked to advise on the risks and advantages of filing CTM and national applications in Italy, Germany, Switzerland and the UK. Needless to say, the four member-firm soon found itself giving different advice, particularly regarding the issue of whether it was better (i) to send a friendly letter to the owner of the earlier mark in order to secure its agreement to the PHARMAGIANT application or (ii) to eradicate the earlier mark -- the IPKat's preferred solution [nb for more on dormant marks see Severin de Wit's IPEG blog here].

The IPKat also attended the first-ever INTA all-academic panel session, moderated by Charles Gielen. Aided by Ansgar Ohly, Graeme Dinwoodie, Gerald T. Tschura and Horacio Rangel-Ortiz, Charles surveyed issues involving freedom of expression and unfair competition - the sale of keywords and adwords and the use of trade marks for the purposes of criticism, art and parody. There was some scary stuff here, not least the gloomy conclusion that it's pretty much fatal to laugh at someone else's trade mark in Argentina. Anyway, the really good thing about this session was that it was sharp, focused on practice and gave the audience a takeaway message as to what was (i) permitted, (ii) forbidden, (iii) risky and (iv) unresolved. The IPKat also enjoyed the retelling of the CHEWY VUITON saga (see his post here). His feeling was that the best way Louis Vuitton could have dealt with this was not by suing the makers of cleverly-named pet accessories but to turn the tables on them by featuring CHEWY VUITON products with high-class pets that accompanied their fashionable masters/mistresses in adverts for the real LOUIS VUITTON products.

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