2018 Leadership Meeting Unveils New Initiatives, Gives Back to Host City

Published: December 1, 2018

INTA’s volunteers and leaders from around the world convened in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, November 6-9, for the 2018 Leadership Meeting. This invitation-only event brings together the global trademark community’s leaders to progress the Association’s objectives and goals and to participate in an advanced educational program. In true New Orleans fashion, this year’s meeting featured a jazz soundtrack with live music from local musicians incorporated into much of the programming, as well as sessions that included New Orleans chefs and entrepreneurs. The event also included a number of extramural activities, as well as innovative and thought-provoking programming that looked beyond trademarks and intellectual property (IP).

The event officially kicked off on November 6 with the Welcome and Awards Ceremony. During his address, INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo reflected on the Leadership Meeting as an important reminder that INTA is a volunteer-run organization, noting that the Association’s work is undertaken by 3,466 volunteers from 114 countries.

With this in mind, Mr. Sanz de Acedo explained why it is a priority for INTA to provide all its members with meaningful ways to engage with the Association and, indeed, with each other. He touched upon six initiatives that serve to both bolster engagement among the global membership and foster the strong sense of community spirit that fuels the Association’s work, namely:

  1. The INTA Influencers speaker series (announced at the Leadership Meeting) (see below);
  2. The Newcomers Match Program, which pairs first-time attendees at INTA meetings with a fellow newcomer so neither has to navigate the meeting alone;
  3. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and activities available to INTA meeting and conference registrants;
  4. INTA’s Pro Bono Trademark Clearinghouse;
  5. The “Brand and New” podcast series (launched at the Leadership Meeting); and
  6. The Association’s new digital presence and office space (both slated for 2019).

Mr. Sanz de Acedo also shared updates from the Board of Directors Meeting that took place earlier that day. The Board elected several new Directors and Officers and passed a resolution adopting guidelines for examination of industrial designs. Notably, the Board also approved its first formal process for adding and sunsetting committees. This new process provides a transparent framework that enables any INTA member to propose a new committee. The deadline for submissions of proposals to add or sunset a committee in the 2020‒2021 committee term is December 15, 2018. Click here for more information.

In her remarks, INTA 2018 President Tish Berard (Velcro Group Corporation, USA) took the opportunity to reflect on New Orleans’ recovery from Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005. Ms. Berard described the significant role that the private sector played in the response to Katrina and how the tremendous efforts of brands in the recovery efforts ultimately changed CSR forever.

Drawing on various studies that examine consumer trust, she drew a connection between CSR and IP, highlighting two major trends in the marketplace today. The first is the erosion of trust in traditional institutions. “Consumers believe that it is now easier to get brands, rather than government, to act on the issues they care about,” she said. “As a result, brands are now being pressed beyond their traditional business interests to play a greater role in society.”

The second is the rise of anti-IP sentiment. “The critical roles of trademarks, as sources of information, and brands, as promises of delivery, are being diminished in the marketplace,” noted Ms. Berard. “The role of trademarks, IP, and brands in society is by and large misunderstood. This is negatively impacting brand reputation and is fueling anti-IP sentiment.”

Ms. Berard presented a strong case for why INTA members need to be engaged in their companies’ CSR initiatives. “We, as brand professionals, can and should play a central role in the development and implementation of CSR activities undertaken by our brands. This is not only about us seeing our roles differently,” she emphasized. “It’s about helping our clients-whether internal or external-see CSR and IP differently too, as well as understand the connection between the two. Likewise, we need to help consumers see trademarks and IP differently. This is about building trust, and demonstrating how IP serves the interests of not only brand owners, but of consumers and society at large.”

Also during the Welcome Ceremony, Ms. Berard honored members of the INTA community with the Tomorrow’s Leader Awards, Volunteer Service Awards, and the President’s Award. INTA congratulates these members on their achievements and dedication to the Association’s work.

Giving Back

The Leadership Meeting included two CSR activities, providing registrants with different opportunities to give back to the community while in New Orleans.

On November 6, a group of INTA members spent the afternoon preparing 1,000 “hygiene kits” that would later be distributed to the homeless community of New Orleans. Partnering with NetWork Volunteers, Volunteers of America, and Friends of Lafitte Greenway, INTA members assembled kits that included toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, and deodorant. As part of the volunteer experience, members were also asked to include in each kit a handwritten note with a message of hope and inspiration.

“I wanted to learn more about New Orleans, beyond what tourists experience, and to see how the city and people have recovered from the natural catastrophes they have been through,” said Slobodan Petosevic (Petosevic Luxembourg, Strassen, Luxembourg), who was among the volunteers. “I also thought it was great to meet others attending the Leadership Meeting by working together for a common cause.” See NetWork Volunteers’ webpage dedicated to coverage of the event here.

A group of eight volunteers were also sent to Covenant House to assist with cleanup of the organization’s dining area. The Covenant House Director informed INTA volunteers that the dining room only receives a thorough cleaning every three to four months, so having volunteers to help with cleaning during an “off season” meant a lot to the resident youth, many of whom have at some point been homeless.

On November 8, a group of registrants enjoyed a fine dining experience as part of Liberty’s Kitchen Guest Chef Night series. Liberty’s Kitchen, also a local nonprofit, provides workforce training and access to fresh, healthy food for youth across New Orleans, serving 3,500 meals per day to low-income children in public charter schools.

As Mr. Sanz de Acedo pointed out during his welcome address, INTA’s Education Department is now in the process of formalizing a CSR strategy for all meetings and conferences.

Unreal Campaign Reaches New Orleans Teens

Coinciding with the Leadership Meeting, on November 8, members of the Unreal Campaign Committee and the Anticounterfeiting Committee educated teenagers at Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans about the dangers of counterfeit goods. The Unreal Campaign is INTA’s public awareness initiative designed to educate teenagers (ages 14‒18) about the importance of trademarks and IP, and the dangers of counterfeit products.

While the Unreal Campaign volunteers typically present to larger classes, this was a small but highly engaged group of approximately 15 students participating in a business law program. This was the campaign’s first student engagement event in Louisiana. The campaign has successfully reached nearly 40,000 students worldwide since its launch in 2012.

Educational Programming

The Leadership Meeting was co-chaired by A. Justin Ourso III (Jones Walker LLP, USA) and Pamela Weinstock (USA). Together with their project team they hosted a diverse educational program featuring three days of sessions covering hot-button issues facing brand professionals, including brands in crisis, the effect of virtual reality and artificial intelligence on trademarks, ethics and risk management, and protecting brands in mobile applications. The program also included a number of sessions in which panelists from outside the IP world shared insight into their experiences with branding and IP.

In a session titled Branding for Restaurants: Strategizing the Branding of New Restaurants, the Branding of Restaurant Groups, and the Rebranding of Old Restaurants, registrants heard from Steve Sidman (Carlton Fields, USA), Kristen Fancher (Margaritaville Enterprises, LLC, USA), Chef Alon Shaya (Pomegranate Hospitality, USA), Josh Siegel (Momofuku Group, USA), and Joseph V. Tripodi (The Subway Corporation, USA). They discussed branding across a wide spectrum of retail food and restaurant industry issues. Mr. Shaya noted that when to protect a brand is a challenge for many in the industry who start out as passionate and hardworking individuals and may land success as a brand long before they’ve had the opportunity to begin thinking about branding. Mr. Siegel highlighted the value of logos in the growth strategies of established, successful, and well-recognized brands, and talked about the central role of the Momofuku peach logo as the brand expands into new markets and endeavors. Ms. Fancher noted the risks with popular brands such as Margaritaville in relying on a single personality to support the brand, which is why the organization focuses on expanding its brand portfolio as it grows into new markets, such as hotels and lodgings. While brand recognition continues to be a key measure of success for a brand, growth relies on the innovation that surrounds the brand, according to Mr. Tripodi. Most of that innovation has to involve consumer engagement, he said.

Before a packed auditorium, renowned New Orleans jazz musicians Wendell Brunious and Herlin Riley took to the stage for the Improvisational Leadership: Lessons from Jazz session. Hosted by Bill Taylor, the Executive Director of the Trombone Shorty Foundation, an organization dedicated to serving underprivileged youth through music, the musicians performed well-known titles and original music as a way to demonstrate an aspect of New Orleans culture that is passed from one generation to the next. Throughout the performance, Mr. Brunious and Mr. Riley shared anecdotes and inspirational stories about world-famous musicians who have called New Orleans their home, and about the people who succeeded in rebuilding the city and reviving its culture after Hurricane Katrina.

In a session titled Branding and Music Concerts: Strategizing the Different Roles that Brands Play for Producers, Sponsors, Venues, and Performers, the audience was taken on a hypothetical journey to rock stardom. Elisabeth Kaszner (Kasznar Leonardos Intellectual Property, Brazil), Rebecca Roby (Hard Rock International, USA), Michael J. Allan (Steptoe & Johnson LLP, USA), Helma van de Langenber (Novagraaf, Netherlands), and actor and singer Zach Selwyn (USA) discussed the many challenges and opportunities for brands involved in hosting concerts.

From trademark ownership, licensing, and protection of creative works between the many parties involved in producing a live performance to venue selection, contracts, and promotions, the speakers provided their own professional experiences of situations both good and bad. The final takeaways offered were to plan ahead; consider all players involved and how involvement impacts branding; to make sure rights are protected and done so in relation to the rights of others; and to be prepared for anything.

Introduced at this year’s Leadership Meeting, the INTA Influencers speaker series took place on November 7, as part of the educational program. A key motivation behind this pilot program is to provide long-time INTA members, who are leaders in the industry, with a platform to share personal stories about how they have advanced in their careers. Their presentations were short “Ted Talk‒style” talks designed to motivate and inspire brand professionals in their personal and professional growth.

The session featured three speakers:

  • Rudy Gaines (Womble Bond Dickinson US LLP, USA) discussed how emotional quotient and emotional intelligence help people advance effectively in their career.
  • Gustavo Giay (Marval, O’Farrell & Mairal, Argentina) shared his personal experience with INTA core values and how he has used INTA’s member benefits to take his career to the next level.
  • Marion Heathcote (Davies Collison Cave, Australia) explained how her passions, her professional career, and her years with INTA have intersected to create positive change.

All three talks were well-received and the Association looks to continue the INTA Influencers speaker series at future events. The talks were filmed and can be accessed via INTA’s e-learning platform.

INTA would like to thank our 2018 Leadership Meeting sponsors:

INTA also thanks its volunteer members for their hard work and active engagement throughout the committee term so far, including at the Leadership Meeting. The Association looks forward to an exciting year ahead, including the 2019 Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, May 18-22 (registration opens in January) and the 2019 Leadership Meeting, which takes place in Austin, Texas, USA, November 19-22. Mark your calendars!

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. Law & Practice updates are published without comment from INTA except where it has taken an official position.

© 2018 International Trademark Association