INTA Steps Up Mobilization as 100-Day Countdown to Brexit Begins, Continues Anticounterfeiting Efforts

Published: January 15, 2019

BREXIT: INTA Reinforces Importance of Intellectual Property Rights as Uncertainty Remains

With fewer than 100 days remaining before Brexit is scheduled to take effect on March 29, INTA has stepped up its mobilization on intellectual property (IP) issues of concern for the Association and its members as it continues to monitor the changeable situation.

As the date nears for the United Kingdom (UK) to leave the European Union (EU) on March 29, uncertainty is looming more than ever over the Brexit outcome. While the EU27 (all EU member-states but the UK) awaits the final greenlight of the EU Parliament (a mere “yes” or “no” vote on the final deal) in January or February, the situation is much more complicated in the UK. There, on January 15 (just as this article went to press), the UK Parliament in a 432-202 vote overwhelmingly defeated the Brexit deal supported by UK Prime Minister Teresa May. The Prime Minister now has only six days – until January 21 – to propose an alternate plan.

This vote opens a period of uncertainty: Will Prime Minister May step down? Will snap elections be triggered? Will another referendum be called? Are we – inevitably – going towards a cliff-edge scenario with the UK leaving the EU without any deal? The clock is – loudly – ticking, and all bets are off…

On its end, INTA provided three papers on critical issues to the UK Government, UK Intellectual Property Office, and the EU Commission:

  • Enforcement of IP rights, which has not been sufficiently considered in the negotiations yet;
  • .eu domain names and the impact on .eu rights holders in the UK that rely on an .eu domain presence for trade after Brexit; and
  • A detailed set of questions and recommendations on the UK’s draft Trade Marks (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulation 2018.

For the latest updates and documents related to Brexit, including INTA’s Brands Brexit Toolkit, visit INTA’s dedicated webpage.

European Commission Opens Public Consultation on Design Legal Protection

The European Commission launched a public consultation on design protection in the European Union (EU), with the aim of determining if the current legal framework is still fit for purpose and identifying potential areas for improvement.

In posting the consultation on December 18, the Commission noted that there is an “increasing need for accessible, modern, effective, and consistent” legal protection for design rights in the EU in light of “the growing economic importance of design protection for encouraging innovation and the development of new products with appealing design.”

INTA’s Designs Committee is currently working on providing input on behalf of the Association. The consultation is open until March 31, 2019, and can be accessed here.

Workshop Explores New Approaches to Provide IP Support to Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

INTA co-hosted a workshop with the European Commission’s DG GROW IP Unit on “Intellectual Property Support for SMEs” in Brussels on December 7. The Association was represented by 2018 President Tish Berard (Velcro Group Corporation, USA) and the Europe Office.

This closed-door workshop at the premises of the European Commission gathered representatives of national authorities and IP offices of the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, and the Benelux, the EUIPO, the Commission’s Executive Agency for SMEs, the EU IPR Helpdesk, and the EU China IP SME Helpdesk, as well as representatives of sectorial associations-Orgalime, EURATEX, and Enterprise Europe Network.

The event offered the opportunity for Ms. Berard to present the preliminary findings of the 2018 Presidential Task Force onSmall and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and Entrepreneurs, and for the Commission to provide an overview of its activities and tools for SMEs. The meeting allowed participants to further discuss the relevance of existing measures to secure SMEs’ access to IP rights, and the necessity to develop new tools or approaches to assist these businesses.

INTA Collaborates with Other Entities on Anticounterfeiting Efforts

As 2018 drew to a close, the Europe Office was engaged in collaborative activities in Brussels to fight counterfeiting.

INTA co-hosted a policy dialogue with the Belgium Association Anti-Counterfeiting and the Asian Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy titled “Securing Brand Trust and Security on the One Belt One Road” on December 5. Speakers included representatives of the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol), Hungarian Customs, IKEA, eBay, and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. They gave their own perspective-and that of their sector-on the main challenges and issues they face with the “‘Belt and Road” Initiative and then took numerous questions from the audience.

In addition, INTA Anticounterfeiting Committee’s Eastern Europe Subcommittee Chair Huib Berendschot (AKD, the Netherlands) attended the annual World Customs Organization (WCO) Counterfeiting and Piracy meeting on December 6 and 7. Topics focused on an exchange of views, experiences, practices, and initiatives of customs administrations and discussions on WCO capacity building activities for members requesting assistance.

Blockchain: EU Parliament Report Includes INTA’s Recommendations to Protect IP Rights

The European Parliament on December 13 adopted its own initiative (non-legislative) report on “Blockchain: a forward looking trade policy.” Thanks to INTA’s advocacy efforts, the report highlights the potential of blockchain to protect IP rights and to help fight against counterfeits. This adoption by a broad majority is a significant political signal from the EU Parliament to the Commission when and if they choose to legislate on the matter.

On the side, on December 12, 2018, the European IPR Helpdesk held its annual event on “Digital Transformation-IP and Blockchain Technologies” in Brussels, which INTA Europe Advisor Milesh Gordhandas attended. The event notably touched upon: how blockchain is used to gather evidence in court proceedings; the interconnection between IP and privacy issues triggered by the use of blockchain; smart contracts, which limit but do not completely prevent fraud; and the enhanced traceability ensured when this technology is used in the supply chain.

INTA and German Patent and Trademark Office Discuss Future Collaboration

Meike Urban (Sandoz International, Germany), a member of the Unreal Campaign-Europe Subcommittee; Hélène Nicora, INTA Europe Chief Representative Officer; and Carolina Oliveira, Europe Policy Officer, met with the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA) at the DPMA’s office in Munich on December 10. INTA’s participants were warmly received by the DPMA’s delegation, which included Cornelia Rudloff-Schäffer, President of the Office; Barbara Preiβner, Director General for Trademarks and Designs; Alexander Wickenhöfer, Head of International Cooperation and Head of Team for Trademarks and Designs; and Christian Posselt, Head of Team for Trade Marks.

At the meeting, DPMA and INTA representatives discussed their respective strategies and priorities, as well as challenges affecting trademark-related practices, and they agreed on next steps for their future cooperation.

Please note that the DPMA is kindly hosting an INTA Seminar for Trademark Administrators on February 14 in Munich, Germany, free of charge! Registration and details are at

INTA Attends EU-China Industry Meeting in Brussels

On December 18, Jan de Visser (Philips International B.V., the Netherlands), a member of the Anticounterfeiting Committee, East Asia and Pacific Subcommittee, and Carolina Oliveira, INTA Europe Policy Officer, attended the EU-China IP Business Meeting in Brussels. Held in the context of the EU-China IP Working Group, the meeting was co-chaired by Peter Kovacs, Head of the IP and Procurement Unit of the European Commission Directorate General for Trade, and Ye Jun, Deputy Director General at the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. During the meeting, stakeholders had the opportunity to exchange with the Chinese delegation on online counterfeiting and bad faith registrations. Mr. de Visser intervened on both topics, explaining the challenges faced by INTA’s membership around the world.

Keynotes Announced for INTA’s 2019 Europe Conference: Embracing Change

How can brands and companies adapt and embrace change? Compelling keynotes will tackle this question at INTA’s Europe Conference: Embracing Change, in Paris, France, on February 18‒19. The recently announced keynotes are Regina Polanco, founder and CEO of PYRATES smart fabrics, Spain; Mathieu Morgenszern, CEO, GroupM and WPP, France; and Jason Oke, EMEA Managing Director, Red Fuse, France.

This Conference will help practitioners identify changes that will impact their professional life, discuss practical tips to adapt to the challenges raised, and enable attendees to better equip themselves to navigate the evolving political and legal landscape.

To help attendees keep pace with change, sessions will address such hot global topics as: promoting brands in the digital world; the meteoric rise of online influencers; artificial intelligence, blockchain, and other innovative tools that affect business and legal practices; and the changing role of trademark teams. There will also be an update on Brexit, a look at copyright reform in Europe, an update from the European Commission, and a discussion on the future of IP offices with top officials from Austria, France, and Switzerland.

INTA’s Europe Representative Office, based in Brussels, Belgium, represents the Association’s 1,800+ members across Europe (including those in EU and non-EU member states, and Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States). Working in collaboration with staff at INTA’s headquarters in New York City, the Europe Representative Office leads the Association’s policy, membership, marketing, and communications initiatives throughout the region. To learn more about INTA’s activities in Europe, please contact INTA Chief Europe Representative Officer Hélène Nicora at [email protected] and follow us on Twitter at @INTABrussels.

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.

© 2019 International Trademark Association