Volunteer Spotlight: Winnie Tham

Published: August 1, 2019

Winnie Tham, Vice Chair of INTA’s Harmonization of Trademark Law & Practice Committee, is a Director of Amica Law LLC, Singapore, and has been practicing in the intellectual property field since 1993. She specializes in patent and regulatory matters, and is a registered patent attorney.

Ms. Tham has served on a variety of INTA committees for many years. Her first committee, and one of her favorites, was the Famous and Well-Known Marks Committee (FWKMC), on which she served for eight years.

She remembers starting out as a member in the FWKMC East Asia & Pacific Subcommittee, noting that it was a great learning experience. Ms. Tham went on to become Subcommittee Chair, Vice Chair, and Chair of the committee. Through these positions, she learned a great deal about INTA as an organization and its activities.

Ms. Tham is now Vice Chair of the Harmonization of Trademark Law and Practice Committee. Coming from the Asia-Pacific region, where trademark laws and practices are not harmonized throughout the region, she hopes the Committee can contribute to establishing a greater degree of consistency.

One of the most important lessons she learned while volunteering for INTA is the importance of contributing actively rather than just sitting back. “You will learn so much more by participating,” she explains. “From a leadership perspective, you need to motivate your members and to ensure that they have a clear goal and objective to produce a useful work product.”

The Harmonization of Trademark Law & Practice Committee collaborates with other INTA committees, such as the Anticounterfeiting, Legislation, and Trademark Offices Practice Committees. “Input from other committee members with their expertise is important and it’s good to see other perspectives,” Ms. Tham says.

Speaking of current trademark issues, Ms. Tham believes that plain packaging laws pose a threat to trademark law, and while these laws began with tobacco, they are now affecting other industries. Artificial intelligence is also an important area, which we cannot afford to ignore, she says, noting: “It will have benefits in efficiencies in trademark prosecution and enforcement, but it will also change how consumers buy and see products, and this will have an impact on trademark law, for example, infringement.”

Turning to the issue of Singapore’s law and practice, Ms. Tham points out that Singapore was one of the first countries in Southeast Asia to join the Madrid Protocol, and also one of the first to recognize nontraditional and well-known marks. Singapore’s approach to examination of marks and their registrability has changed significantly over the years, she notes. In fact, Singapore’s Registry of Trademarks now takes a much more user-friendly and pro-active approach, and often engages its stakeholders in dialogue. Moreover, she observes, in the last few years, the Hearings and Mediations section has been active in streamlining its opposition/invalidation/revocation procedures.

When she is not working, Ms. Tham spends time with her family. She has three children who keep her busy, as well as a dog and cat. She also enjoys baking and reading when time allows. More recently, Ms. Tham has picked up gardening as a hobby. She finds great satisfaction in seeing her potted plants flourishwhen they do. She also enjoys looking for furniture and accessories for her house.

As for her favorite trademarks, considering that baking is one of her hobbies, the Pillsbury Dough Boy is one of them, and has endured through the years. She is always happy to see Singapore brands that come to the fore, pointing to CHARLES & KEITH as one example of a local, home grown brand, which was started by two brothers in the shoe industry. Today their trademark has become a household name in Singapore.

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© 2019 International Trademark Association