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August 1, 2019 Vol. 74 No. 13 Back to Bulletin Main Page

Asia Conference Co-chairs Shed Light on How Brands Are Adapting to Constant Change


At INTA’s 2019 Asia Conference: Brands in Changing Times, which will take place from October 17 to 18, 2019, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, business and legal experts, as well as government officials, will explore innovation in the marketplace and in the practice of trademark law.

In part one of this two-part series, Project Team Co-Chairs Karen Abraham (Shearn Delamore & Co., Malaysia) and Carla Federis (BDO Unibank, Inc., the Philippines) discuss how the Asia Conference will help registrants navigate innovation in the marketplace and the practice of trademark law, intellectual property (IP) protection strategies, the changing enforcement landscape, and growth opportunities in the region..

The 2019 Asia Conference is focused on 'Brands in Changing Times.' What do you believe are the most significant changes in recent years that affect brands?
Carla Federis:
The constant evolution of technology and the speed of innovation significantly affect how brands do business today. In particular, being able to quickly adopt to new technologies is key in staying competitive and poses a major challenge for brands. As brand lawyers, we too must stay informed and current of these changes so that we can effectively counsel our clients and assist them in navigating these challenges.

Karen Abraham:
A big example of this technological evolution is social media, which has provided a platform for brands, influencers, and consumers to understand consumption in a more substantial way than ever before. This has the carryover effect of an increasing complexity in consumer purchasing decisions, forcing a reverse relationship between consumers and brands. Gone are the days when brands alone could influence trends. Nowadays, there must be a transparency between brand-customer relationships.

Another result of the impact of technology is the idea of personalized, data-driven marketing. More and more, brands are collecting data online and via their brick and mortar stores. This means a more personalized service.

One last important change is that marketing organizations will increasingly move from digital silos to integrated teams. What this means is that business teams and marketing teams cannot operate separately. Brands need to bring together teams on all levels, from product creation to strategy, production, publication, and promotion.

What are some of the key ways in which recent technological innovations, such as e-commerce, social media, artificial intelligence (AI), and big data, have affected the way brand owners and practitioners do business? And how will this be addressed at the Conference?
CF: Technological innovations are indispensable tools that brand owners must adopt so that they can stay competitive in today’s business climate. Because of this, we have included topics such as "Innovation and the Trademark Team," which will explore how technology can be an asset to a brand’s legal team. There is also "Tips and Strategies to Successfully Take Your Brand Online," which addresses the issues brand owners face in the online context, including social media.

KA: As I mentioned earlier, one of the biggest challenges that brands face is the boom of social media affecting their popularity. AI and Big Data are slowly making their way into changing the manner in which brand owners do business.

This will be addressed at the Conference through a number of panels addressing such issues as: e-commerce and promotion of brands in the digital space, including communicating in an online world; the role of influencers, social media, advertising, and marketing regulatory frameworks; and the changing role of trademark teams and the effect of new technologies, such as AI, blockchain, and big data.

The Conference is uniquely built around four pillars: Innovate. Protect. Enforce. Grow. Can you explain why the Project Team chose these pillars?
CF: These four pillars were selected because they encapsulate within those keywords the major themes that the Conference will seek to address. These overarching themes summarize the various issues that brand owners face today as they do business within the region and around the world. By organizing the Conference agenda and breaking down the topics into these four pillars, we hope that it will effectively convey the message and topics for discussion to lawyers (both in-house and outside counsel) who are expected to give timely, relevant, and succinct advice to their brand-owner clients.

KA: The four pillars are essentially the life cycle that a brand experiences each time it builds and produces a new product/service. Each set of panels falls under the umbrella of the relevant pillar:
  • The “Innovate” pillar is very important for brand owners because they are facing so many changes that they have to find ways to adapt to stay relevant to the consumer. We are hoping to address these issues that brands are facing in the context of the technological framework that has caused a disruption in the way brands conduct their business.
  • The “Protect” pillar builds on innovation. We have our frameworks in place to protect brands in the traditional way that we know. Now, we are essentially walking together in the dark to find out the IP implications of these innovations in line with the ever-changing technological framework. We will tease out these issues and discuss with experts what their views on protection might be.
  • The last two pillars go hand in hand. Enforcement needs to stay in pace with the increasing rate of infringement as a result of technological advancement. We will address this issue via technological advances that assist in tracking infringements, and by increased understanding of new areas that require enforcement.
  • As a result of the first three pillars, brands can then grow comfortably, knowing that their property is being protected.
Karen, we understand that Malaysia is in the process of acceding to the Madrid Protocol; how will this program help attendees learn about the changes in protection systems and strategies in Malaysia and other countries in the region?
KA: The panels under the “Protect” and “Enforce” pillars will directly address the changes in protection systems and strategies. This includes the role of the Madrid Protocol and nation/regional trademark systems. In fact, we have a dedicated panel which will discuss China and what legislation has been put in place to combat bad-faith trademark registrations in the country. In addition, there is a special panel titled “Brand Protection Toolkit,” which will discuss copyright, design, and other often overlooked tools that every brand owner and legal practitioner should consider in an IP protection strategy.

Carla, as an in-house lawyer, why do you think other in-house practitioners should attend this Conference? Will you be providing tools for the in-house and outside legal teams as part of the program?
CF: Being an in-house lawyer, I can see that the role of an IP lawyer has evolved. Aside from being expected to provide advice on traditionally IP-related issues, such as prosecution, enforcement, and portfolio strategies/management, we are also expected to be updated on the current technology and innovations affecting the business, as well as the relevant laws and regulations applicable thereto. There are also other overlapping legal issues that brand owners need counsel on, including issues that affect brand reputation and measuring brand value/assets. That is why the Conference covers topics related to data privacy, as well as a session focused on measuring brand value.

See full details on sessions and registration the 2019 Asia Conference here.

Stay tuned for part two of this series in the August 15 INTA Bulletin, when the Co-chairs will provide more information on the cutting-edge topics to be discussed at the Asia Conference and insider tips for first-time visitors to Kuala Lumpur.

Join us at the 2019 Asia Conference: Brands in Changing Times

Innovate. Protect. Enforce. Grow.
October 17–18, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Register here.


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