The IPKat's Monday activities at INTA commenced with registration at 7.30am, followed by the rituals of collecting the attendee goody bag and the securing of as many ribbons as possible to wear on his name badge. Next came a foray into the hospitality area, where he spent a pleasant hour discussing the world and all its wonders with breakfast companions from Germany, Canada and the United States. For many people, networking is synonymous with evening activities such as fancy receptions and dinner parties -- but it's surprising how many people are quite conscious and articulate in the early hours of the morning.
Tuesday, 25 May 2010
The opening ceremony was next on the IPKat's agenda. Alan C. Drewsen (INTA Executive Director) gave some facts and figures: some 8,300 registrants were in Boston for this year's Meeting, a far cry from the organisation's earlier visits to Boston in 1987 and 1998, where the number of registrants was very much smaller. Now INTA has over 5,600 corporate and other members drawn from 190 countries, many of whom provide the fire-power needed for keeping INTA active and relevant in an ever-changing world -- around 2,500 volunteers sit on the organisation's myriad committees and subcommittees.
This year's President, Heather Steinmeyer (WellPoint Inc), set the tone for this year's Meeting by delivering a speech which was generally far more serious in tone than those of many of her predecessors in recent years. The dangers and challenges facing the trade mark and branding community were set out firmly, as was INTA's determination to address them. She also warned that progress towards the conclusion of the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) should be accelerated by focusing it on trade mark and copyright infringement alone, jettisoning other IP rights. This position was implicitly contradicted by the extrovert keynote speaker Peter Guber (Mandalay Entertainment), whose comments led this Kat to conclude thathis position was that, since all rights owners were threatened by infringement, it was better to stick together in facing the enemy.
Next stop for theIPKat was the Trademark Scholarship Symposium, in which he joined in the discussions of two pieces of work in progress. In the course of these discussions, the question arose as to whether IP rights in trade dress would enhance or inhibit greater competition. It was observed that, in the US, where the fashion industry receives very little IP protection, the industry is vibrant and creative. Curiously in Europe -- where the fashion industry has layers of protection through registered and unregistered Community design rights, registered and unregistered national design rights, unfair competition and/or passing off -- the industry is also vibrant and creative. Does this mean that IP rights are competition-neutral in that sector, or that the factors that generate creativity in the fashion sector are not affected by the extent of IP rights?
Following the symposium it was time to visit the Exhibit Hall, where the IPKat remained for most of the rest of the day. Apart from the exhibitors themselves, the Kat found many friends old and new with whom he shared his thoughts and ideas. Once the Exhibit Hall closed, the round of receptions commenced, culminating with the Meet the Bloggers gathering in the cosy anonymity of Lucky's Lounge. By this stage the Kat, reeling from jetlag and hoarse from the effort of making himself heard, was really struggling and could do little more than smile at his colleagues on the blogosphere and hope they'd forgive him. He did however have enough energy to make a note of two IP blogs that were previously unknown to him: German attorney Dr Volker Metzler's Visae Patentes (with an archive going back to January 2010) and the Spanish-language Registros de Marcos, from Rafael Gimenez from Mexico.
And so to bed ...