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October 13
INTA's Leadership Meeting: Exciting Educational Sessions

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The switch of the Leadership Meeting from the warmer climes to a cooler Washington bring a refreshing change to a meeting that many attendees consider a more low-key, intimate gathering than the much larger Annual Meeting. 

With four days of educational sessions and networking opportunities this meeting is a great way to wrap up the 2016-2017 committee term and begin planning for the next year and implementation of INTA’s 2018-2021 strategic plan. 

A quick look at the program makes it clear that there are quite a few interesting sessions. One such session is The Impact of Plain Packaging and Brand Restrictions on IP Rights. The issue of plain packaging is gaining in both importance and concern, and a detailed discussion on the topic is highly relevant at this time.

The panel representing both industry and practice will consider the ramifications of Draconian plain packaging regulations, which are severely impinging on IP rights across several industries.

Governments in numerous jurisdictions have adopted, or are in the process of adopting, plain packaging regimes as well as more highly standardized packaging regulations, which makes this a timely discussion for trademark owners.  

In many cases, the argument boils down to health policy versus trademark rights. Any legislation that prohibits or severely restricts the use of trademarks and prevents them from fulfilling their functions in the market place is, in theory, detrimental to consumers, trademark owners, and the economic well-being (e.g. jobs) of society in general. 

The denial of trademark rights, including the denial of the right to use trademarks, violates the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) as well as the Paris Convention. Categorizing trademarks as a personal property right elevates them to the same level of respect as other forms of property rights and limits the government in its ability to restrict or forbid the use of marks.  

Plain packaging laws severely impair the functions of trademarks, create a dangerous precedent for other sectors, increase the risk of consumer confusion, violate international treaty obligations (as well as the laws of an individual jurisdiction), limit competition, and significantly increase the risk of counterfeit products being made available in the market.  We as a trademark community must object to overly restrictive measures that prohibit or restrict the use of trademarks and other brand imagery.

This panel takes place on Wednesday, November 8, 10:20 am – 11:20 am. The panel will look at the relevant case law. Although plain packaging judgments to date relate almost entirely to the tobacco industry, insight will be given to what is on the global stage with respect to further brand restrictions. The panel will also consider the impact of these restrictions and whether they are working or not. 

To discuss plain packaging, and other hot topics such as the Madrid Protocol, new gTLDs and influencing policy makers, please join us at the upcoming Leadership Meeting for what promises to be an excellent event.  

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