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INTA Pro Bono Committee
Spotlight




July 2017

INTA's Pro Bono Committee, which started merely as an idea back in 2010, is today proud to be rolling out its Pro Bono Trademark Clearinghouse Pilot Program, which will be a great benefit to the trademark community globally. The program will allow INTA to act as an intermediary to match low-income clients and/or nonprofit or charitable organizations in need of trademark assistance with the formidable abilities of INTA’s attorney members, acting on a pro bono basis.

Early efforts were initiated by a Pro Bono Task Force chaired by Bret Parker with a goal of developing INTA as a primary resource for pro bono advocacy and activity in the trademark community. In 2012, as an official INTA committee first chaired by Brian O’Donnell then by Jim McCarthy (McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff, LLP, USA) the groundwork necessary to truly promote pro bono activities globally was laid and the framework for the eventual Clearinghouse Program was built.  Now in only its third term, the Pro Bono Committee, chaired by Rick Biagi (Neal and McDevitt, LLC, USA), has developed a plan – which has been approved – to launch the Clearinghouse as a pilot program in the United State and Germany to test the plan.  Megan K. Bannigan (Debevoise & Plimpton, LLP, USA), who currently leads the Clearinghouse Implementation Subcommittee, explains “The Committee has worked tirelessly over its last two terms to research and devise its strategy to implement the Clearinghouse pilot program.  It believes the plan we ultimately decided upon will not only be an asset to the trademark community as a whole and lead to greater brand protection, but will provide a pathway to share the many benefits of performing pro bono legal services with INTA’s members. The pilot will show us the strengths and weaknesses of the framework and best position INTA to launch the program globally in coming terms.” The Committee is currently actively seeking potential clients to participate in the program. The application for the program can be accessed here.

In addition to the exciting Clearinghouse Program, over the years the Pro Bono Committee has focused on creating pro bono programs to educate INTA members and raise awareness of pro bono opportunities, connecting members with pro bono opportunities, and encouraging and highlighting the pro bono efforts of INTA members. This has been done through conducting educational programs, awarding Volunteer Service Awards, publishing Spotlight Articles on firms and individuals involved in pro bono work, developing a tool kit giving any law firm or corporation the tools needed to set up and run its own pro bono program, and collecting and creating other resources to educate INTA members about pro bono opportunities and provide valuable resources for getting involved in pro bono trademark work. Please visit the INTA Pro Bono page for more information.

The Pro Bono committee is committed to making INTA the primary resource for pro bono trademark work through the above programs as well as the recently introduced Clearinghouse Program. Karina Dimidjian-Lecomte (Casalonga Avocats, France), who heads the Communications Subcommittee, sees the launch of the Clearinghouse as the natural evolution of the Committee’s efforts, since its inception, to promote the importance of pro bono in the trademark field. Further, for Dimidjian-Lecomte, INTA, as the leading global association for trademark owners and professionals, with members in more than 190 countries, is ideally positioned to provide this new service on a global basis.

Indeed, the Committee’s resources are not only aimed at those within the United States, but also provides useful information for professionals in more than 70 countries. Further, the Clearinghouse Pilot Program will also be launched in Germany with other countries to follow. Kate O’Rourke (Charles Russell Speechlys, LLP, UK), Group Leader for the International Pro Bono team, believes the Clearinghouse Program is the optimum way forward to ensure that IP pro bono services are available internationally in the future, while the ongoing work of the committee in compiling and making available details of existing national pro bono resources is an essential adjunct to assisting the trademark community globally today.

If you know any individual or entity that may benefit from pro bono trademark services, please contact direct them to Pro Bono Clearinghouse webpage on INTA.org, or click here. You may also contact Stacey Sutton (INTA Pro Bono Committee Liaison) at ssutton@inta.org or to find out more about the INTA Pro Bono Committee or for access to useful pro bono resources please click here.