From March 4 through March 6, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Intellectual Property Association (ASEAN IPA) conducted its Annual Meeting and Conference, focusing on the future of IP in the region. INTA was honored to be invited as an observer, represented by Trademark Office Practice Asia Pacific Subcommittee Chair, Mr. Louis Chan (P&G, Singapore) and INTA Asia-Pacific Office Chief Representative, Mr. Seth Hays.
President Chew Phye Keat opened the event by calling for an ASEAN voice in the role of IP development in the region, citing the numerous trends in IP development, such as the recent drafting of the next ASEAN intellectual property rights (IPR) action plan to recently negotiated trade agreements.
Participating in the event were representatives from several IP offices, such as those in Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Singapore. Mr. Abdul Aziz Ismail of the Malaysia IP office spoke in detail on the recently drafted IPR Action Plan for the ASEAN Working Group on IP Cooperation (AWGIPC) for 2016–2025. He mentioned four strategic goals: 1) building a robust IP system through IP offices and IP infrastructure; 2) contributing to the ASEAN Economic Community; 3) promoting asset creation and traditional knowledge and geographical indications; and 4) expanding an inclusive IP ecosystem. Most notably, industry groups play a major role in expanding the IP system, and the AWGIPC plans more interaction with users of the IP system.
Following Mr. Ismail’s comments was the presentation of Mr. Ignacio de Medrano, Project Leader for the EU-ASEAN Project on the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights (ECAP III) program. He noted that the numerous programs initiated by ESCAP III, such as ASEAN TMview, have been successful in using technology to link IP offices and create value for users, who can easily search all connected offices in the region for trademark registrations through one website. He noted that IP offices in the region are becoming “digitally mediated institutions.”
INTA joined an afternoon panel on emerging issues. Mr. Louis Chan spoke on the recent trends of plain packaging in the region, joining other panelists who discussed the emerging issues of indigenous rights, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the Hague Agreement.
The day concluded with an update on the IP law drafts in Myanmar and the business perspectives of counterfeit trade in the region.
This event was a fantastic forum to hear ASEAN’s leading IP users group discuss the major topics in the region and to mix with leading government officials.