INTA Bulletin

April 15, 2014 Vol. 69 No. 8 Back to Bulletin Main Page

INTA Delegation Bolsters Relationships in Asia

From March 24 to April 4, INTA officers, staff and members participated in a round of high-level government and association meetings throughout Asia and organized a number of member-focused roundtables and seminars.

In China, INTA President Mei-lan Stark (Fox Entertainment Group, USA) joined CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo and Manager, External Relations, Asia-Pacific Seth Hays in Beijing for a dynamic delegation visit with members and government officials. The activities were kicked off with a luncheon roundtable at the Kerry Hotel to discuss online counterfeiting issues. On March 26, more than 100 INTA members attended and contributed to a lively discussion about how the sale of counterfeit products online is being addressed at a practical level in China.

That evening, the delegation, including INTA Vice President Lucy Nichols (The Center for Responsible Enterprise and Trade, USA), Mr. Sanz de Acedo and Mr. Hays, was joined for dinner by INTA members George Chan (Rouse, China), Huang Hui (Wan Hui Da, China), Xuemin Chen (Zhongzi Law Office, China), Cindy Zhen (Hershey, USA), He Jing (Anjie Law Firm, China) and Iris Chao (Johnson & Johnson, USA).

The same week, the delegation met with Deputy Director Li Zhenzhong of the Office of the National Leading Group on the Fight Against IPR Infringement and Counterfeiting. Mr. Zhenzhong and Tan Jian, Chief, Division of Supervision and Liaison of the Leading Group (who visited INTA's New York office earlier this year), informed the delegation about the efforts of the National Leading Group to address counterfeiting, with online counterfeiting being a top priority. The INTA delegation offered its support to assist the National Leading Group with its efforts to study online counterfeiting and discussed ways it can collaborate further. Some of the follow-up areas for collaboration include producing joint publications, joint events and joint discussions. For the publications projects, Deputy Director Li suggested cooperation on periodic information, highlights and updates. With respect to joint meetings, he recommended collaborating on programs, roundtables and other events, and he would like to see specific cases addressed during joint discussions.

The previous day’s anticounterfeiting roundtable was a great starting point for such collaboration efforts, and INTA hopes to work with the Leading Group to deepen its communication with rights holders and make a serious impact in the realm of counterfeiting online.

INTA also held a media roundtable with reporters from China Daily, Xinhua News, Renmin Wang ( and China IP News during the China delegation’s visit. Mr. Sanz de Acedo extended INTA’s excitement over the revision of China’s Trademark Law, while Ms. Stark expressed the Association’s willingness to assist companies from China in strengthening their brand protection globally in the future.

Following the roundtable, several articles were published emphasizing INTA’s increased focus on China and the upcoming Annual Meeting in Hong Kong. Mr. Sanz de Acedo extended INTA’s excitement and concerns over the revision of The Trademark Law of China.

Finally, Mr. Sanz de Acedo and Ms. Stark spoke at a meeting of the Quality Brands Protection Committee (QBPC) in Shanghai on issues including the economic importance of trademarks, the need for public understanding of trademarks, counterfeiting, new gTLDs and plain packaging. Ms. Stark also discussed INTA’s Strategic Plan and the Association’s initiative to build bridges with other organizations.

In Japan, Ms. Stark, Mr. Sanz de Acedo and Mr. Hays visited the Japan Patent Office (JPO), where they were treated to a tour of the International Trademark Application Division and the Appeal Court. The delegation was particularly impressed by the cutting-edge technology employed by the JPO for examination.

The Director-General, Trademark and Customer Relations Department, Mr. Hirotoshi Kunitomo, hosted the delegation for lunch and discussed the JPO’s visit to Hong Kong in May for INTA’s Annual Meeting.

The INTA team next visited the Japan Patent Attorneys Association to hear about a legislative update on the revision to the IP law to be enacted in 2015, which includes protection for nontraditional marks, such as sound marks.

At Japan Customs—the first-ever meeting with this agency for INTA—the delegation learned that 91.9 percent of seizures in 2013 came from China. Overall, 44.5 percent of seizures were bags and 98.4 percent were trademark-related cases, as compared with patent, design and copyright–related seizures.

The delegation also met with the Japan Trademark Association, which shares INTA’s desire to educate industry and government on nontraditional marks.

At Japan’s High Court for IP matters, Chief Judge Toshiaki Iimura informed the delegation that in 2012, district courts heard 567 IP cases. Of those, 16.2 percent were trademark cases. Of the 146 cases that were appealed to the IP High Court, 9.6 percent were trademark cases. The delegation was pleased to hear that Judge Iimura and other IP High Court judges travel and speak publicly in order to educate and increase awareness of IP in courts and the public around the world.

The INTA delegation also met with the Japan Intellectual Property Association’s (JIPA’s) Trademark Committee, with which INTA worked on a BRICS countries famous and well-known marks research project. INTA looks forward to seeing the JIPA research.

After a successful visit in Japan, INTA’s delegation traveled to Myanmar, which is in the process of drafting its first trademark laws. The group included INTA Immediate Past President Toe Su Aung (BATMark, UK); Mr. Hays; Kowit Somwaiya, Chair, Anticounterfeiting Committee—East Asia & Pacific Subcommittee (Law Plus Ltd., Thailand); Moe Mynn Thu (Rouse Myanmar Company Limited, Myanmar); “Bond” Nhut Phan (Nike, Vietnam); Kasidech Chanchauchai (Siam Premier, Thailand); and “Pink” Wiramrudee Mokkhavesa, Anticounterfeiting Committee (Tilleke & Gibbins, Thailand).

On March 31, the delegation visited the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) President, Win Aung (photo, right). UMFCCI was a supporter of INTA’s early efforts in Myanmar in 2012, when INTA and UMFCCI held a joint session in the capital, Naypyidaw, on the trademark law draft.

UMFCCI reports that all IP laws are bundled together for passage through the Hluttaw (parliament). It believes that the IP office will have branches in Naypyidaw and Yangon, with oppositions perhaps heard in Naypyidaw. UMFCCI is committed to creating awareness around IP and has formed an IP committee.

Following the meeting with UMFCCI, the delegation visited the U.S. Embassy to hear from staff there on their perspectives of IP in the country. The staff noted that while the IP team in the Myanmar government is excellent, it is understaffed. Indeed, any future National IPR Center, when formed, will need technical assistance. The U.S. Embassy recommended that groups like INTA get involved in education and awareness raising on trademarks.
At a meeting with Myanmar’s customs authorities, there was discussion about the lack of a formal recordal system, although some ad hoc application process is possible. There was little to no data on counterfeiting cases/seizures, but future efforts on data collection should include these data. The new Sea Customs Act references IP in terms of the need to synchronize with any new IP laws that come online in the future.

Next, the delegation met with the Ministry of Science and Technology, Research and Development Division. While the discussion dealt mainly with issues outside trademarks, it was clear that INTA could play a role by providing insight on areas of related rights, such as copyright and designs.

On April 1, INTA held a seminar on trademark progress in Myanmar, including a focus on enforcement. Speaking at the program were Dr. Sein Win, President-Elect of the Intellectual Property Proprietors Association of Myanmar; Aye Lwin, Secretary General, UMFCCI; Dr. Win Aung, President, UMFCCI; U Thein Aung, President, APAA Myanmar Group; Khine Khine U, Member, UMFCCI IP Committee; Azrul Hamid, Partner, Wong Jin Nee & Teo (Malaysia); and “Pink” Wiramrudee Mokkhavesa, Tilleke & Gibbins (Thailand).

The program was organized by the Anticounterfeiting Committee Asia-Pacific Subcommittee, led by Kowit Somwaiya (LawPlus, Thailand). The results of the program were to form ideas for future efforts and coordination among trademark and intellectual property-related organizations. The chief focus for future efforts will be on training, including law enforcement and government training, practitioners and legislative advocacy and education.

The delegation moved from Myanmar on to Singapore, where they met with Dr. Beh Swan Gin, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Law. Dr. Beh and the Ministry of Law are strong supporters of intellectual property and proud of the big moves Singapore is making to be an IP hub.

INTA also met the UKIPO IP Attaché based in Singapore for Southeast Asia, Ms. Christabel Koh. Ms. Koh introduced the UK’s efforts to protect UK industry in the region through increased IP protection.

The delegation later met with Chief Executive Tan Yih San from the IP Office of Singapore (IPOS) and his team. IPOS was the first office in Southeast Asia to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with INTA. As Chair of the Asean Working Group on IP Coordination, Singapore will play an important role as the group of countries forms an economic community in 2015.
WIPO also has a local office in Singapore, and INTA met with Director Denis Croze and Deputy Director Candra Darusman. As many countries come online to Madrid in the region, there is a need for training and awareness-raising. The delegation was impressed by the excellent coordinating role the WIPO office plays among the local IP attachés from foreign governments in the region.

At the end of the delegation tour, Mr. Sanz de Acedo and Mr. Hays stopped at the site of the Annual Meeting next month, Hong Kong.

Meeting with other association heads is a priority, as one of INTA’s Strategic Plan goals is to “build bridges” under one of its three new Presidential Task Forces. Meeting with APAA President CK Kwong, INTA discussed opportunities for future cooperation.

The Director of the Hong Kong IP Department (HKIPD), Mr. Peter Cheung, met with INTA to discuss extensive plans for Hong Kong to be an IP trading hub. Additionally, HKIPD will be hosting a forum, the “6th Global Sensory Branding Forum,” on May 9. Mr. Cheung took the delegation to lunch to see the beautiful sights of Hong Kong at the top of a rotating restaurant that boasted spectacular views. Mr. Cheung said he is also looking forward to working with INTA on the Unreal Campaign and bringing it to students in Hong Kong during the Annual Meeting.

Finally, INTA met with Tim Steinert (Alibaba, Hong Kong) and his team. Mr. Sanz de Acedo welcomed Mr. Steinert and the company, the newest member from China to join the Association, and said that INTA will remain a key platform for brand owners to communicate on important issues such as gTLDs and online counterfeits, as was demonstrated during the China anticounterfeiting roundtable earlier in the week.

INTA plans to host a program focusing on Internet issues in Beijing this October, which will cover topics ranging from new gTLDs to online counterfeits.  

To learn more about trademark issues in Asia, join us at the Annual Meeting in Hong Kong for “What Role Will Trademarks Play in the Future of Asia?”, which will be held from 2:00 pm to 3:15 pm on Sunday, May 11. 

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

© 2014 International Trademark Association