From October 2016 to March 2017 the team is joined by Guest Kats Rosie Burbidge and Eibhlin Vardy, and by InternKats Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo, Tian Lu and Hayleigh Bosher.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

A Kat visits #INTA15: Wednesday wind-up

Photo commissioned from unknown Convention Center staff member by Okan Çan (Deriş)
Wednesday is traditionally the final day of the INTA's marathon Meeting [on which topic click here, here and here for background and details] and thus a good time for winding up the various threads of IP activities in which the new all-time INTA record of 9,915 registrants have been involved.  The day again started early for this Kat, since it started with his Table Topic presentation on the subject "The Art of IP Blogging: Effective Social Media Input for Lawyers and their Clients".  The session was most enjoyable and he learned much from it. This is because, while there were several actual or putative bloggers around the table, one of the participants was not from a private legal practice at all, but from a corporation and therefore from a potential client and therefore a typical addressee of promotional legal materials. The two hours allotted for the Table Topic fairly whizzed by, as legal, commercial and technical issues were broached. This Kat and the Table-Toppers are featured above.

A British triumph?
Incidentally, for those who love figures, only around one-third of those attending -- 3,480 -- were from the United States. The United Kingdom came next with 508, followed by China (466), Germany (411), Canada (322), India (249) and France (237) [Merpel is so excited! Although Germany beats the UK at most sports and other things these days, the UK beat Germany in sending people to the INTA Meeting, despite the fact that it has a smaller population. Maybe this could become an Olympic event ...].  This Kat thinks that this illustrates quite nicely how the organisation has changed since, back in the days when INTA was still the United States Trademark Association (USTA), indigenous US participants were not surprisingly more numerous than those of the rest of the world combined. Merpel thinks that the United States is rather better represented than the official numbers suggest, given that so many people attending from beyond its borders work with or for law firms and companies that are US-owned or controlled -- but that doesn't detract from the increasingly international "feel" which the Meeting now possesses.

Photo: C. Morcom QC
His Table Topic completed, Kat trekked back to the Exhibit Hall and Hospitality Areas, where he tried his hand at putting (right) at the Safenames exhibit stand. There, with two eye-witnesses to confirm the veracity of his claim, he achieved a remarkable "hole in one" from somewhere in the region of two and a half metres at only his third attempt.  Then came a sequence of meetings arranged with lawyers, authors and entrepreneurs.  Hospitality ceased at 1400 pm to give everyone time to prepare for the Grand Finale Gaslamp Quarter Block Party. The hour or so before closure is a hugely busy time, farewells are said [often two or three times over, it seems to Merpel, who wonders why there isn't a polite way of saying "I'm saying my final goodbye to you now so that, if I see you again in five minutes time, I can safely ignore you without giving offence"], and promotional items are pressed into often unwilling hands, only to be subsequently jettisoned behind the potted plants by their reluctant recipients.

While awaiting the Grand Finale, this Kat pondered over the things he'd been doing and seeing over the past four days. What changes might he make if he was in charge of the INTA?  The following were among the many ideas that dawned on him:
  • Both MARQUES and the Fordham IP Conference have made great efforts to unite practitioners and academics with specialist members of the judiciary, or at least with non-specialist judges who have presided over more than their fair share of IP trials.  MARQUES does this through events which it takes to countries around Europe, while Fordham has a judges' panel as one of its plenary sessions.  These events are much appreciated -- the MARQUES ones because they provide a forum in which judges and practitioners can get a better understanding of each others' concerns and discuss ways of smoothing the path from writ to judgment; Fordham's through the amicable bullying of an expert moderator who knows how far he can push judges to reveal their inner thoughts and concerns. INTA does have some judges on the programme, but in a rather diffuse manner: it would however be grand if the organisation could bring several together in the same room at the same time, to discuss their different approaches to identical issues;
  • Merpel rather mischievously suggests that there should be a session entitled on working with trade mark paralegals. Contrary to the opinion of a few members of the profession who seem to be commoditising not only their work but their staff, paralegals are human too; they help generate profit; they can easily be taken for granted, and they too have their aspirations, their fears and their need to feel loved and fulfilled;
  • After his experiences this year, this Kat would propose a Table Topic for next year entitled "Retirement Planning for IP Professionals".  Most of the golden oldies to whom he spoke had no intention of retiring because what they do is such fun, some confessing that there isn't really anything else they fancy doing. Fair enough, but one of them mentioned an intention to continue to carry on in practice until he was 95.  Brave words, but would he be happy, for example, to submit to the scalpel of a 95-year-old surgeon or the drill of a near-centurion dentist? In theory there should be no problem, but professional life is demanding and the exercise of professional skills can be quite hard enough even for a young, strapping practitioner at the end of a long, hard day in the office;
  • More seriously, there really should be breakout sessions for patent attorneys who come to INTA to meet clients but who have no active interest in trade mark law and practice.  Each year there are more of them, and special sessions would not only keep them gainfully occupied but would make it easier for them to find one another. Or maybe they could be given ribbon tags on their registration badges with a legend like "Patent Eligible" ...
Now for a word about the Grand Finale. Predictably, it consisted of another large quantity of humans eating and drinking to the beat of a reasonably proficient live band.  This Kat, who enjoys people more than parties, said his farewells and left early. He paused, looked back at the revellers, marvelled one last time at the magnificent architectural edifices as they darkened into silhouettes against the evening clouds, then picked his way around some of the many recumbent bodies of those souls who inhabit the city's sidewalks day and night, the benefits of branding being largely beyond their reach. May they and we see better times since, badged and unbadged, we are all brothers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was also shocked by the tented villages I encountered in the East of the city and the homeless elsewhere. Perhaps this is an area that the non-profit INTA foundation should think about as it brings the event to the next line up of cities. Is there something it can connect attendees to - highlighting a set of local non-profits for example, so that INTA can leave a positive mark on the cities it visits?

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