Volunteer Spotlight: Michelle Brownlee

Published: February 1, 2018

Michael W. Rafter Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton New York, New York, USA

Michelle Brownlee, Trademark Counsel for Bose Corporation, is passionate about combating counterfeiting through education. Ms. Brownlee most recently served as the first Chair of INTA’s Unreal Campaign Committee. The Unreal Campaign is INTA’s public awareness initiative designed to educate teenagers (14‒18) about the importance of trademarks, intellectual property, and the dangers of counterfeit products.

Ms. Brownlee has had an interest in counterfeiting education for a long time and, in her words, is “convinced that education is the most important part of anticounterfeiting strategy for a company like Bose. Many people still do not know that electronics products are counterfeited, and they are surprised how closely the fake products and packaging resemble the original.” Some years ago, Ms. Brownlee worked on some education initiatives when she served on INTA’s Anticounterfeiting Committee, including the introduction of a counterfeit mock trial fact pattern in the Discovering Justice program in Boston, which educates inner-city students about the U.S. justice system. During the committee sign-up process last term, she saw that there was a brand new committee for the Unreal Campaign, which educates teens about counterfeits. Thinking it would be a great match for her interests, she requested to serve on the committee and was delighted when she was asked not only to serve on it, but to Chair the committee as well. It is the INTA project she has most enjoyed working on.

“Because we are a new committee with a clear mission, we have lots of energized committee members who have educated thousands of teens around the world through live student events in schools and through student organizations like DECA and Future Business Leaders of America, as well as through social media influencers,” says Ms. Brownlee. “It has been great to be a part of this effort.”

In fact, Ms. Brownlee believes that one of the most important issues in trademark law today is finding a way to decrease the trade in counterfeit goods. While she would like to see governments around the world devote greater resources to prosecuting counterfeiters, Ms. Brownlee recognizes that “because the Internet enables anonymity and law enforcement resources are stretched thin, it is difficult to make a real impact through criminal and civil actions against counterfeiters.” According to Ms. Brownlee, that is “why education is such an important aspect of counterfeiting strategy.”

At Bose Corporation, Ms. Brownlee’s daily work involves traditional trademark clearance, prosecution, maintenance, oppositions, and enforcement, as well as-no surprise-anticounterfeiting. When not engaged in work or counterfeiting education, Ms. Brownlee enjoys cycling in the warmer months and skiing and snowboarding during the winter months.

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