What Belonging to INTA Means to Me: Megan Carpenter

Published: February 15, 2019

Megan Carpenter is the dean of the University of New Hampshire School of Law in Concord, New Hampshire (USA). The law school’s Franklin Pierce Center for Intellectual Property prepares the next generation of lawyers for practice in a global economy based primarily on intellectual property (IP). Dean Carpenter currently serves on INTA’s Brands and Innovation Committee. In this interview, the dean shares what belonging to INTA means to her as well as what practitioners face in today’s IP environment.

What is the biggest challenge IP professionals and brand owners are currently facing in your region?
At Franklin Pierce and the University of New Hampshire School of Law, we have students from all over the world. One of the biggest challenges we see is the use of trademark law in other contexts. While there are different buckets of IP-copyright, patent, trade secret, and trademarks-often trademarks get shoehorned into other areas of IP. One of the biggest challenges that I see for trademark attorneys is to really parse out the rights and what’s protected through trademark law.

Why is that such a challenge?
It’s a challenge because we see the lines increasingly blurred. Where we used to have defined buckets of IP law, we’re seeing more and more overlap. But trademark law protects a very specific kind of right and a specific kind of value. Safeguarding that value and not allowing it to encompass other forms of IP-and what are substantially other forms of rights-is something that is increasingly important for trademark professionals.

How has INTA helped in tackling that challenge?
INTA has done an excellent job over the last several years in recognizing that trademark rights don’t just involve trademarks-that trademarks are about a larger conversation: a conversation about branding, a conversation about design, a conversation that involves building bridges, and a conversation that involves other forms of IP, like copyright.

A speaker at one of our meetings recently said that this is an exciting and powerful time for IP professionals given all the changes in technology. Is it an exciting and powerful time for IP professionals?
In my position, I see very frequently the importance of the role of IP professionals in the global economic infrastructure just through hiring practices. I see our IP graduates snapped up very quickly after graduation, and that’s due to the fact we are in an economy that is based on information and content. What that means is people who are IP professionals across the spectrum are incredibly valuable as we think about moving our economy forward. This is true around the world, not just in the United States, and in both developed and developing countries. In some developing countries, participating in the knowledge economy is something that is a matter of national security. The knowledge economy needs knowledge professionals, and that’s what IP professionals are.

What advice would you have for young practitioners in the IP field?
I would advise young IP practitioners to maintain a sense of openness and a comfort with uncertainty and evolution. They should always think about those gray areas and be comfortable playing in the sandbox. That’s critical for IP professionals in the reality of today’s economy.

I would also advise young practitioners to really “go for it.” Don’t wait until you know all the answers or you feel like you’re in your comfort zone. IP is, by its definition, innovative and always pushing the envelope. So, as a practitioner of an evolving area of law, go for it, and take your analysis and your effort to the next level.

How has being an INTA member helped you in your professional career?
As an academic and a former IP practitioner, I’ve really recognized that trademark law is better when professors and practitioners talk to one another. Theory and policy are important, and practice is important. Practice grounds theory and policy, and theory and policy really inform the practice of law. To have both of those as part of a dialogue is something that INTA has developed over the years-while growing in diversity and perspective-and that has been to the betterment of trademark law.

In one or two words, what does belonging to INTA mean to you?
Belonging to INTA means education.

Be sure to renew your INTA membership!
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© 2019 International Trademark Association