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INTA Bulletin


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

INTA Collaborates with the USPTO on an Industry Training Focused on Coffee Industry


The Government Officials Training (GOT) Committee’s second United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) training for 2017 took place on Thursday, November 7, and focused on the coffee industry. More than 270 people attended or viewed the presentation live online. The GOT Committee’s USPTO Subcommittee Co-Chair, Scott Woldow of Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP (USA), who organized the training along with subcommittee members, presented opening remarks. Speakers included Ato Getachew Mengisitie Alemu, former Director General of the Ethiopian IP Office and Batur Oktay, Director and Corporate Counsel at Starbucks Coffee Corp. (USA). The panel was moderated by GOT Committee Member Helen Hill Minsker of Banner & Witcoff (USA).

Mr. Alemu talked about setting up a program for registering key Ethiopian coffee trademarks and licensing them as a means to help his country leverage one of its most unique assets: world renowned coffee. The goal of the initiative is to improve the country’s economy, and in turn, the standard of living for individuals working in the coffee industry. Mr. Alemu also provided insights into the pros and cons of trademark registrations versus certification mark registrations, and royalty-free licenses versus royalty-based licenses. The Ethiopian registration and licensing program has resulted in partnerships with companies, such as Starbucks, which have gone on to invest resources and provide training to coffee farmers in Ethiopia.

Mr. Oktay gave an overview of the challenges facing a global brand, such as protecting and enforcing rights around the world. Using the Starbucks portfolio as an example, he provided practical guidance for setting priorities for trademark clearance, registration, and enforcement, and discussed how different types of intellectual property (IP) protection may be utilized by companies such Starbucks to protect its IP.

INTA-USPTO Industry Trainings

Each year, INTA’s GOT Committee collaborates with the USPTO on an Industry Training presentation for the Office’s examining attorneys and staff. The industry trainings provide a forum whereby an industry sector and the USPTO come together to share information on the latest trends within the industry that may affect the examination of trademark applications. The trainings allow examiners to hear about common trademark challenges facing in-house counsel and the outside bar. The trainings establish a direct line of communication between the examiners and attorneys practicing before the USPTO.

The GOT Committee also presents annual train
ings at the European Union IP Office (EUIPO) and the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI).

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