INTA Bulletin

December 15, 2017 Vol. 72 No. 21 Back to Bulletin Main Page

Building Sustainable Growth Through Brand Authenticity

INTA’s Brand Authenticity conference, held in Berlin, Germany, November 30–December 1, 2017, focused on the synergies between brands, brand protection, sustainability, integrity, and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Speakers came from a wide range 
of industries and included founders of ethical and sustainable businesses, brand owners, government officials, legal practitioners, certification specialists, and representatives from global non-government organizations (NGOs). The project team was led by Jessica Murray, Director for IP and CSR of TOMS Shoes, and Mladen Vukmir of Vukmir Associates.

Building Sustainable Growth

The value of brands to businesses and society was at the heart of INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo’s introductory address. “IP professionals
 need to speak about bra
nds, not only trademarks, and transcend the purely legal concept,” he said.

Conference co-chair, Jessica Murray, shared with attendees that brand authenticity is not only a personal passion but also a daily priority in her role at TOMS Shoes.

Building on this starting point, Santiago Peralta, the founder of Pacari Chocolate in Ecuador, gave the keynote speech, in which he described how good business and sustainability feed into each other. While the audience was enjoying samples of Pacari chocolate, Mr. Peralta stressed the importance of having “fairness all along the supply chain,” a commitment demonstrated by his close relationship with local chocolate producers in Ecuador. “We do our own chocolate with our own cacao, our own farmers, our own company,” he said.

A theme running throughout the panels was the value that CSR could bring to brands, especially now that CSR is a basic demand of today’s consumers.

Giulia Di Tommaso (Elipe Limited, UK) pointed out that brands that are strongly focused on sustainability see an increase of 20 to 30 percent in their sales. Adam Garfunkel (Junxion, UK) added that, according to surveys, 66 percent of consumers would pay more for a product made with CSR credentials, and concluded by saying that “people want to go shopping, but increasingly, people are interested in the company and not just in the product.”

These sessions also looked at the role that certification and voluntary sustainable standards (VSS) could play. The panelists included representatives from Demeter and Fairtrade International, and delegates heard about the importance of certifying food and beverages (Demeter) and applying fair labor standards (Fairtrade International). Certification and VSS contribute to brand recognition and are a source of “empowerment and capacity building in global South,” said Ms. Di Tommaso. She added that companies and brands “need to be more caring about how they work with their supply chain in order to build a relationship with consumers,” which explains why there are more sustainability clauses in supply chain contract terms.

The keynote speaker on day two of the conference, Aiko Bode (Group Chief Sustainability Officer, Fenix Outdoor International AG, Germany), provided a “management compass” that puts CSR at the heart a company’s strategic development, with each of the directions standing for a core value of the company: N - nature; E - economy; S - society; W - well-being. This compass, according to Mr. Bode, “makes sure that sustainability is integrated in every decision” at Fenix Outdoor.

Attendees were inspired to hear about how companies and law firms are integrating CSR and sustainability into their business models. Camille van Gestal of Waka Waka and Peter Dernbach of Winkler Partners not only inspired attendees with their stories but provided examples to follow as to how to integrate CSR into day-to-day business decisions.

Diversity, Inclusion, and Involving NGOs

Diversity and inclusion is a vital part of CSR and more companies, law firms, and businesses are creating a dedicated position to push through these core values. For example, Putri Realita (Danone, France) explained her company’s three global priorities (inclusion, diversity, and empowerment). Session moderator David Stone (Allen & Overy LLP, UK) said that, “it is the right thing to do … and we need to convince people.”

The relationship between brands and non-profit organizations and government associations was at the center of a dedicated panel. Wolfgang Scheunemann (German CSR-Forum, Germany) used the example of the Volkswagen emissions scandal to illustrate that when there is a clash between NGOs and companies, the NGO “usually wins.” This can affect the brand’s image and reputation and ultimately hurt sales. Participants in this session stressed that having a collaborative approach to NGOs is key.

Additional sessions featured speakers from organizations such as oriGIn, WIPO, and eNABLE Germany, and provided attendees with a perspective of brand value beyond the purely legal brand definition.

All participants agreed that CSR is no longer a trend but has become essential for any brand willing to connect with its consumers and to sustain its reputation. With this conference INTA showed how important CSR and sustainability are for brand owners and the benefits that corporate responsibility brings to business, consumers, and society at large.

INTA Wraps up its Free Trade Zones Workshop Series

Preceding the Brand Authenticity conference, INTA concluded its one-day workshop series on Free Trade Zones: Commerce vs. Counterfeits on November 29, with a focus on Europe. The Berlin event was the final of a series of workshops held around the globe in 2017, with previous events in Cartagena, Dubai, Hong Kong, and New York City. The purpose of these workshops was to provide a closed-door forum for brand owners, free trade zone authorities, government officials, and other key stakeholders to share their concerns and best practices and to work together toward solutions to combat the threat of counterfeiting in free trade zones.

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.

© 2017 International Trademark Association