[Event report] INTA’s first online conference. Brands in Society: Their Influence and Responsibility (Day 2)



Here is the report on the second day of INTA’s online conference, Brands in Society: Their Influence and Responsibility. Review here the post on the first day of the event


Opening remarks and keynote 

Signe Naeve (Starbucks) and Pieter van den Bulck (AB InBev) co-chaired the session, in which Etienne Sanz de Acedo (INTA’s CEO) provided the opening remarks. 

Etienne remarked that brands must act for the benefit of society, especially in light of the COVID-19 recession, by inspiring customers to get involved. Still, all promises must be supported by actions. He also provided insights concerning some actions taken by INTA in this regard, including the pro bono clearinghouse program, donation campaigns for sending resources to charities, the women’s leadership initiative and the brands for a better society committee.  

The keynote on growing brand value through sustainability was delivered by Venkatesh Kini (Ubuntoo). He stated sustainability is core when doing business. Venkatesh also observed the vital role trademark lawyers might play when advising the marketing team on “how to be purpose-driven brands”. 


Session 5. Diversity and inclusion 

The fifth session was moderated by Sanjana Sharma (UL). The speakers were Kim Culmone (Mattel), Michael Moore (Mattel) and Peter Dernbach (Winkler Partners). 

Kim Culmone emphasized companies are doing right when investing in products that represent their values. Kim discussed the Barbie evolution, an iconic brand that has impacted generations, which now presents different body types and a full range of features, e.g. various skin tones (the first African American Barbie was launched in 1968) and hair textures. She said the brand aims to empower girls for doing whatever they want to do. Kim also described the process to design and marketing the products, taking into consideration that the potential consumers are still in the process of maturation. 

Michael Moore then focused on how brands have the power to influence societal change and diversity. To do so, he noted, brands must be authentic. Michael also discussed creatable world, the first gender-inclusive doll in the world. 

Peter Dernbach observed that customers expect that brands have values and will act to articulate those values, pointing to engagement in social issues with an emphasis on authenticity (e.g. racial inequality). Peter also stressed that many studies have shown that diversity in teams deliver better results for clients which pointed to the importance of attracting and retaining the best talent. 


Session 6. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and brand value 

The sixth session was moderated by David Lossignol (Novartis). The speakers were Maria José Sánchez Ray (National Federation of Colombian Coffee Growers) and Phil White (Grounded World).    

Maria José Sánchez Ray shared some insights about her work with the National Federation of Colombian Coffee Growers [Merpel attended this session while drinking a tasty cup of coffee]. Maria José stated that through team collaboration and implementation of CSR policies, it is possible to provide value and reputation for the brand. In this respect, while the Federation is always working towards positioning Colombian coffee as one of the best in the world, they have also taken some steps in CSR matters, including patenting technology for water-conservation and contributing to the rural development of the country (e.g. building schools and roads). 

Following this, Phil White discussed the Feeding America campaign, which has delivered 1,386 million pounds of food to local food banks. Phil observed that CSR is also important to SMEs and advised bringing the message of trust, transparency, and authenticity to the C-suite. 

David Lossignol affirmed that it is a good time to advocate for CSR when conveying the message to the C-suite and underscoring their advantages to the business. He also shared some findings of INTA’s “Gen Z Insights: Brands and Counterfeit Products” report. David noted inter alia that consumers would stop buying fake products if purchasing genuine products created a positive change in the world. 


Session 7. The fourth industrial revolution and how legal teams are (should be) changing 

The seventh session was moderated by Juan Felipe Acosta (OlarteMoure). The speakers were Yo Takagi (WIPO), Pieter van den Bulck (AB InBev) and Julius Stobbs (Stobbs). 

Yo Takagi provided some highlights of the impact of COVID-19 on IP systems, including a decrease in trademark filings, the closure of half of the intellectual property offices worldwide and the work being carried out remotely by some of them. In this context, Yo suggested reviewing WIPO’s COVID-19 IP Policy Tracker for an overview of the measures implemented by the IP Office in each country. 

Yo also discussed some challenges faced by IPOs and explained WIPO’s responses, which comprised, inter alia, Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools for image searches and WIPO PROOF, a digital evidence service [Read here this TechieKat’s report on the use of WIPO PROOF which as of 23 July 2020, is also available in Spanish and French]. 

Pieter van den Bulck took on the fourth industrial revolution and urged that it enthusiastically be embraced. He stated that technology is critical for the management of complex trademark portfolios. He described the use of a tool developed to assess and mitigate risks, which allowed the management in a timely fashion of 630 brands comprising 37,000 trademark registrations in 195 markets. 

Julius Stobbs was next, and he too suggested embracing technology. He stressed that the fourth industrial revolution is not about removing human expertise but improving services. Julius underscored that it is essential to know which technologies are accessible and how you can use them for finding a solution. He also briefly discussed the automation used for smart contracts. 


Session 8. Enforcement in the court of public opinion 

The eighth session was moderated by Megan Bannigan (Debevoise & Plimpton). The speakers were Steve Beale (Unilever), Jeffrey Kobulnick, (Brutzkus Gubner), and Cathy Lueders (MasterCard). 

Megan Bannigan observed that social media might enhance IP rights (e.g. proving secondary meaning through social media). However, she advised making sure the social media advertisements align with the brand claims. 

Megan also stated that evidence gathered on social media may play a crucial role in enforcement matters. In this context, she briefly explained the case MZ Wallace, Inc v Fuller d/n/a The Oliver Thomas & Black Diamond, No. 18-2665 (SDNY, Dec. 2018), in which the plaintiff claimed the defendants infringed its trade dress rights in quilting handbags. The district court judge ruled in favour of the defendant, and inter alia indicated the plaintiff failed to prove that the trade dress was non-functional. Megan noted there was evidence of influencers stating on social media that the handbag appearance was functional. 

Steve Beale suggested being consistent with brand values when enforcing, particularly during a global crisis. He remarked that in the fight against counterfeiting, it is advisable to collaborate with the platforms, industry associations (e.g. INTA) and public organizations (e.g. European PI Helpdesk and World Customs Organization). Steve also stated that consumer education (e.g. INTA’s unreal campaign, stopfakes.gov) is vital in these matters. 

Jeffrey Kobulnick then observed that since enforcement will be public, one should invest for success and think outside of the box. He stated that the strategy must keep in mind the brand owner’s objectives in order to formulate the best approach. 

Jeffrey recommended conducting due diligence and not sending form C&D letters. He said there is no “one size fits all” format for such documents, and it should be kept in mind that those can be shared on social media with millions of potential readers. Jeffrey noted that sometimes the best enforcement strategy is derived from collaboration. 

In this connection, he briefly discussed the case, 3M company v KM Brothers, involving the sale of N95 masks on Amazon at costs exceeding 3M’s list prices. He remarked although the products were offered on Amazon, 3M is collaborating with the e-commerce platform instead of starting proceedings against them. 

Cathy Lueders also advised being careful when sending out C&D letters, especially in light of its social media presence. She argued that a brand’s values must be considered during enforcement in order to avoid harm to the brand. Likewise, Cathy observed that partnerships might be a good strategy when enforcing rights. She also provided some examples of MasterCard’s CSR activities, including collaboration with the organization, Stand up to cancer, and its strong commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community (e.g. the launch of True Name cards for transgender and non-binary communities). 


Networking opportunities included brand trivia, topic rooms and speed networking, which were held at the beginning and the halfway point of the conference. Overall, INTA should be commended for the quality and content of this conference, especially in light of the challenges posed by an online presentation. 

Credits: 
The pictures were taken by this TechieKat while attending the event.
[Event report] INTA’s first online conference. Brands in Society: Their Influence and Responsibility (Day 2) [Event report] INTA’s first online conference. Brands in Society: Their Influence and Responsibility (Day 2) Reviewed by Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 Rating: 5

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