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INTA Bulletin


December 1, 2017 Vol. 72 No. 20 Back to Bulletin Main Page

Taking Trademarks International: 2017 President’s Award Winner Gerhard Bauer


INTA’s President’s Award is designed to acknowledge the profound appreciation of the global trademark community to individuals who, over the course of a career in trademark and related IP law, have made a lasting impact on INTA and the Association’s mission. INTA President Joe Ferretti (PepsiCo, Inc., USA) presented the award this year to Theodore (“Ted”) Davis (Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, USA) and Gerhard Bauer (Germany) at the INTA Leadership meeting in Washington, D.C., on November 7. After the meeting, the INTA Bulletin spoke with Mr. Bauer about the lessons he has learned over the course of his career.

More information on the award and Mr. Bauer’s achievements is available in the official 2017 President’s Award announcement.

Who or what has taught you the most about trademarks?
Brands and trademarks always have been fascinating to me and led me to an early decision to become an IP specialist with a focus on trademarks. In the course of learning about the different trademark systems around the world, U.S. trademark law especially intrigued me. For that I have to thank my mentor, Vito Giordano, for his patience and enthusiasm when teaching me about U.S. trademark law. One of his often repeated sentences that I will never forget is, “You must have a BONA FIDE INTENTION TO USE.”

What is your favorite memory from the year you were INTA President?
It’s the 2011 Annual Meeting, starting with the fascinating venue—San Francisco. The city is a center of technology and commerce for both the Western and Eastern worlds. This was reflected in the list of moderators, speakers, and the registrants. To see all these people coming together from all sectors and regions in one venue for one purpose, partaking in lively discussions and exchanges of views—in addition to seeing old friends and making new ones—was fantastic.

What are two or three highlights of your time as an INTA member overall?
One was certainly having been elected to the Board of Directors, which provided me with a better overview of the diverse activities and possibilities of the Association and allowed me to learn more about the complexities of the Association’s work.

Another highlight was the opening of INTA’s Europe Representative Office, which was one of the first steps toward INTA’s goal of becoming a truly international Association. I was very lucky to have been part of the formation of the Brussels office and to see the appreciation of European trademark owners, as well as government authorities, for the staff of the Europe office.

Do you have a favorite Annual Meeting of those you’ve attended?
All Annual Meetings have been fantastic, but I have to admit that three of them have been particularly special. The first was the 2003 Annual Meeting in Amsterdam, which was the first time INTA held its Annual Meeting outside of North America. I had the pleasure to be part of the Project Team for that meeting.
Secondly, the 2008 Annual Meeting in Berlin was a favorite because it was held in the capital of my home country. Finally, as mentioned above, was the 2011 Annual Meeting in San Francisco during my presidency. These are just three highlights among a great number of Annual Meetings I attended.

What do you think is the biggest challenge that brand owners will face in the next five years?
Anti-IP sentiments due to a misunderstanding of how the IP system works and is beneficial to all stakeholders, from brand owners to brand users and consumers in general. I have myself experienced many biased discussions and attitudes completely ignoring the facts that strong IP rights create jobs, improve economic performance, and increase consumer safety.

What has been the biggest frustration for you over the course of your career from a trademark law perspective?

Despite real progress achieved by all trademark stakeholders, it is the never-ending battle against counterfeiting.

If you could make one change to the EU trademark system, what would it be and why?
My biggest wish for the most recent amendments to the EU trademark system would be to see it successfully transform from a well-thought-out legislative effort into national/EU-wide reliable and predictable protection.

What have been the biggest changes you have seen since you started practice?
Over the past 30 years there have been many big changes. The introduction of the Madrid Protocol at WIPO, which has made international trademark protection available to many more countries in an easier and more cost-effective way is one. Its success is evidenced by the number of countries continuing to join the Agreement each year.

Another is the creation of the European Union trade mark (formerly known as the Community Trade Mark) system. It began more than 20 years ago from scratch and has kept up with many countries acceding as the EU grew over the years. It was not only the creation of the system alone, but the way the system has adapted to the needs of a changing commercial, industrial, and social environment, combined with cooperation and convergence regarding the respective national trademark systems, which made the system so fascinating and successful.

What advice do you have for young trademark attorneys?
I would first confirm that they have chosen the right profession. I foresee many challenges and changes in the trademark world due to legislative and social evolutions, which will need to be addressed by those young attorneys via amendments and changes to the trademark systems around the world. I would encourage them to not give up, since our work sometimes takes time and patience before we see a fruitful result.

What does winning the President’s Award mean to you?

I was totally surprised when I received a call from this year’s President, Joe Ferretti, announcing the news to me. I hadn’t expected it at all! I am very grateful and feel honored to have been awarded. It is a highlight for me personally after working in the field of IP for almost 30 years. At the same time, I would like to express my thanks and respect to all those people who made this work possible: trademark professionals, committee members, a fantastic INTA staff, the Board of Directors, and CEOs Alan Drewsen and Etienne Sanz de Acedo, who always supported me by giving wise advice.

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