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February 1, 2018 Vol. 730 No. 2 Back to Bulletin Main Page

Committee Spotlight: Harmonization of Trademark Law and Practice Committee


In the 2016–2017 committee term (at the time of writing this article) the Harmonization of Trademark Law and Practice Committee was chaired by Kowit Somwaiya (LawPlus Ltd., Thailand) with Andreas Ebert-Weidenfeller (Meissner Bolte, Germany) as Vice Chair and Debbie Cohn as INTA staff liaison. The main objectives of the committee are to evaluate efforts on national, regional, and international levels through treaties, special conventions, and other non-binding instruments that relate to trademark law and practice, and also to advance and to advocate INTA’s existing policy positions, including drafting proposed treaty language, and to advocate the same to relevant government officials.

The committee is composed of three subcommittees: (1) Free Trade Agreement; (2) International Classification; and (3) New Developments in International Harmonization.

The Free Trade Agreement Subcommittee is chaired by Chris Kindel (Pirkey Barber, PLLC, USA). This subcommittee has been monitoring progress of free trade agreements (FTAs) worldwide and updating a status chart of current and prospective FTAs. It has also been collaborating with regional and national government agencies on negotiations of trademark issues in FTAs, particularly with European officials on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP). Earlier this year, this subcommittee, led by its member Horacio Rangel Ortiz, submitted a position paper on Mexico – EU FTA negotiations with comments on the trademark provisions of the FTA and suggestions for modifications where appropriate.

The International Classification Subcommittee, chaired by Winnie Tham (Amica Law, Singapore), has had a fairly busy term. This subcommittee has worked constantly to ensure that INTA is represented before many organizations so that we may participate in the drive toward harmonization of classification. Highlights of the achievements of this subcommittee include submitting papers with respect to the Nice Classification of Goods and Services before the 26th and 27th WIPO Committee of Experts meetings, making a contribution to the 7th session of the Committee of Experts (CE) of the Vienna Union for the Classification of the Figurative Elements, and also monitoring new developments in classification globally.

The New Developments in International Harmonization subcommittee is chaired by Steve Beale (2016) (Unilever PLC, UK) and Jonathan Moskin (2017) (Foley & Lardner LLP, USA). This subcommittee identifies new matters and activities that will lead to harmonization and/or collaboration of trademark practices, and monitors and prepares a report of new initiatives and trends on trademark issues proposed by International IP organizations such as WIPO. This subcommittee has been working on the report summarizing legal rights and court actions concerning goods in transit and collecting information regarding international use requirements to maintain trademark rights. Moreover, it has begun assembling information on the disparate registration requirements for nontraditional marks.

Assuming leadership of the committee for the 2017–2018 term are Committee Chair Andreas Ebert-Weidenfeller (Meissner Bolte Partnerschaft m.b.B., Germany) and Committee Vice Chair Winnie Tham (Amica Law, Singapore).

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.

© 2018 International Trademark Association