Where has the time gone? Even though it has been a whirlwind year for me, I cannot believe it’s already December and my presidential term is coming to an end. Thank you all for making the past 12 months so productive and enjoyable. As we take a moment to reflect upon our personal and professional accomplishments of the past year, let’s also applaud ourselves for the amazing work we have done as an Association in 2016.
We’ve expanded geographically. This year our Association has celebrated many milestones around the world. In March we officially opened our Asia-Pacific Representative Office in Singapore. In September we celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Brussels Office. And in October we announced the opening of our Latin America Representative Office in Santiago, Chile, which will take place in the first semester of 2017.
We’ve sent delegations to Argentina, Cambodia, Canada, Colombia, Chile, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Vietnam, and the UK. These delegations enable us to expand our advocacy and presence globally and to strengthen our relationships with key stakeholders and government officials around the world. In September, the Board of Directors held its first meeting in Beijing, exemplifying the importance of China to the global trademark community. Likewise, we hosted our first conference in Africa in over 20 years. The Building Africa with Brands conference took place in Cape Town, South Africa, and attracted more than 200 attendees from 36 countries.
We’ve expanded substantively. In January we began a new committee term with an expanded committee structure, introducing 12 new committees and a Programming Council.
The newly formed Communications Group, which includes the Unreal Campaign and the Public and Media Relations Committees, is raising awareness about the value of trademarks throughout the non-IP world. The Unreal Campaign has also expanded globally, hosting approximately 30 events for students, including events in 12 new countries. The Impact Studies Committee (ISC) published its first impact study last week. INTA and ASIPI collaborated on this study to determine the impact of trademark-intensive industries on the economies of Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, and Peru. The study has been published in Spanish and is available here. The English version of the study will be published in January 2017. INTA is already collaborating with BASCAP on a study of the economic and social impact of counterfeiting and piracy, and separately on an economic impact study of the ASEAN region.
The Resources Group continues to update and expand its various publications, including the sixth issue of The Trademark Reporter for 2016 and a new searchable practice guide, Enforcement: An International Litigation Guide, that covers the many facets of trademark litigation in more than 40 jurisdictions.
Our Advocacy Group also began 2016 with a number of new committees. The Copyright, Designs, and Indigenous Rights Committees, for example, demonstrate how INTA is expanding its scope with regard to related rights. On the other hand, the newly formed Brands and Innovation Committee is looking into the relationship between brands/trademarks and innovation.
On behalf of INTA, our Advocacy Group submitted numerous testimony and comments in multiple jurisdictions during the course of 2016. This year they also submitted three Amicus Briefs in the United States and are actively seeking similar opportunities in Europe. The Designs Committee presented a resolution to the Board during the Leadership Meeting. Titled “Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs,” the resolution encourages all countries and intergovernmental organizations to accede to the Hague Agreement and urges new members of the Hague System to enact implementing legislation for the registration and enforcement of design rights.
We’ve examined the role of in-house counsel. This year, I formed a presidential task force to review the role and position of in-house trademark counsel within their companies, the level of influence they have in their companies, and their career opportunities. In November at the Leadership Meeting, the task force presented its final report to the Board. The work on the recommendations from the task force will continue in 2017.
We hosted our largest-ever Annual Meeting. More than 10,000 of us descended on Orlando, Florida, this past May for our 138th Annual Meeting. Wow! And next year we will celebrate yet another incredible milestone for INTA: our third Annual Meeting in Europe! I look forward to joining everyone in beautiful Barcelona, Spain, in May. On a personal note, this year I have had the privilege of participating in so much of INTA’s educational program. The Programming Council and the Education Department are doing amazing job in expanding the scope of INTA’s educational offerings and bringing more events to more members in more parts of the world. Check out the program for 2017.
We’re planning for the future. For some time now we have been working on our 2018–2021 Strategic Plan. We have taken a holistic approach in developing this plan, seeking input from stakeholders both within and outside the IP community—including academics, business leaders, lawmakers, marketers, and consumers. This has helped us to develop an inclusive and forward-thinking Strategic Plan that offers a clear framework to guide all of our future activities. In March, the Board of Directors will review a final draft of the plan.
We have accomplished much this year. With this, my final message as our president, I have only begun to scratch the surface.... INTA is a member-run organization. Our achievements in 2016 are a testament to the passion and commitment with which we engage the many challenges we face in our daily work and in our industry, with which we pursue INTA’s mission, and with which we build our Association and community.
It has been an honor to serve as your president in 2016. Thank you to everyone who has helped us continue to grow and expand. I can’t wait to see what we will accomplish together in 2017. See you in Barcelona.