For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Kats at INTA 7: Trade Marks at the Breakfast Table

A continental breakfast --
but which continent ...?
On this, the final morning of INTA 2014, this Kat let himself in for a completely new experience -- moderating a two-hour Breakfast Table Topic for an expected audience of ten trade mark experts. Table Topics have been around for a while now, and they have certainly grown in popularity. They are also something of a cash cow for INTA, if this Kat's arithmetic is reliable.  Anyway, the topic for this particular table was one of this Kat's long-time favourites, Coexistence Agreements, and the participants who were able to attend (there being a high attrition rate on account of urgent client demands, problems navigating the conference centre and the occasional hangover) were able to offer contributions based on their personal experience of clients, businesses in general, courts and trade mark registries in their respective jurisdictions -- in alphabetical order Israel, Poland, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey and the United States.

How did the Table Topic session go?  The two hours positively flew by.  This Kat's role as moderator was quite a difficult one, as his friends and colleagues will appreciate, since it involved him having to refrain from talking. Instead, he had to make himself a catalyst [surely katalyst, murmurs Merpel] for the crystallisation of the thoughts and opinions of others. Despite the struggle to stay relatively silent, or maybe because of it, this moderating moggie learned a great deal more about coexistence of brands than he expected to.  Issues such as the relationship between coexistence agreements and competition law, the different approaches to perpetual contracts taken in different legal codes, the various means of keeping trade mark registries sweet when objections are taken to agreements that appear to condone consumer confusion, the need to educate clients in the monitoring and post-agreement phase were among those which leapt vividly into life.

This Kat was however left with a couple of disappointments.  First, despite the obvious relevance of this topic to brand owners, none signed up for this discussion, leaving the field exclusively to private practitioners. The addition of even one trade mark portfolio holder would have given a more multi-dimensional flavour to our experience.  Secondly, the absence of some of the registrants caused gaps around the table that those who did attend had to overcome. Be that as it may, a good time was had, or appeared to be had, by all; business cards were duly exchanged and compliments mutually distributed.  It's great to feel that you've actually done a good day's work by the time you get up from your breakfast table.

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