Eye on Asia: INTA’s 2022 Policy Priorities and Key Activities

Published: February 16, 2022

More than 70 percent of the world’s trademark applications occur in Asia, up from 36.2 percent 14 years ago, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization. While brands are filing extensively, counterfeiters have also been leveraging Asia’s manufacturing base and supply chain agility; the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), estimates that more than 80 percent of counterfeit goods comes from the region. Emerging issues, such as plain packaging and brand restrictions, were first implemented in the region—with Australia starting this now-global trend in 2011.

The importance of Asia to brand owners is obvious—and, accordingly, INTA charted a robust policy agenda for the region in 2022.

The year ahead builds on the Association’s extensive advocacy efforts last year. In 2021, INTA submitted 18 written comments on trademark and related legislation, engaged government policymakers 67 times, and hosted 45 officials from more than 20 countries in the region at the 2021 Annual Meeting in November.

Working Regionally and Nationally

Across such a culturally and economically diverse region as Asia, which has the world’s most populated countries and some of the most technologically advanced economies, as well as large developing countries, INTA will strategically focus efforts on cooperation with force-multiplier organizations, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, through free trade agreements and newer digital economy agreements. The focus on the future of trade—in particular, online e-commerce—must be complemented with groundwork addressing the trade in counterfeit goods at the border.

INTA plans to meet with the 10 intellectual property (IP) offices of the ASEAN Working Group on IP Cooperation in 2022. It will advocate for further harmonization of trademark applications in ASEAN, with a view toward seeking greater regional protection for trademarks. In the meantime, INTA will continue to support accession to treaties such as the Madrid Protocol and the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks.

Major IP laws and amendments have been passed in recent months and others are expected this year in several more countries, including the Philippines and Vietnam. Australia could see the accession to the Hague Treaty, and the Philippines and South Korea are considering intermediary liability laws against e-commerce platforms. Malaysia and Singapore passed new IP laws in the past few months, and INTA will work with the IP offices there to help facilitate a smooth implementation of new rules.

IP and Digital Trade

The world’s largest free trade agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) entered into force earlier this year, covering ASEAN plus Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea (not all countries have yet ratified it). INTA successfully advocated for inclusion of protections again bad-faith filings and attention to complementary rights. INTA will support efforts to uphold the IP chapter as the RCEP takes effect.

Other new trade agreements in the region are focused largely on e-commerce, such as those between Singapore and other countries, such as Australia, Chile, New Zealand, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. INTA will advocate for stronger protections for brand owners in the digital economy, especially to protect consumers and brands against the online sale of counterfeit goods.

Working with e-commerce platforms in Asia will be a priority. Over the past 10 years, the e-commerce market in the region has seen numerous new entrants, whereas some platforms have achieved market consolidation in several countries. One of INTA’s priorities will be to encourage both emerging and established platforms to adhere to INTA’s best practices to prevent the sale of counterfeit goods online.

Complementary Rights in a Post-TRIPS World

INTA will work with its members and other stakeholders in the region to address emerging issues and augment complementary rights. As policymakers consider brand restrictions across the region, following plain packaging initiatives in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Thailand, the Association will continue to promote the value of preserving trademark rights to protect consumers and promote brand value.

As part of INTA’s new Strategic Plan, complementary rights, such as designs, copyright, data protection, and unfair competition, will be emphasized as essential areas of increased prioritization for policymakers and harmonization across the region to help members leverage all the legal tools at their disposal to protect their brands.

Teamwork and Beyond

By ongoing collaboration with the Association’s Advocacy Group committees, including delivering written submissions and executing in-person discussions with governments across the region, INTA will continue to achieve more protection for not only its members in Asia, but for all brand owners, present and future.

INTA’s Asia-Pacific Representative Office, based in Singapore, represents the Association’s members across the region. Working in collaboration with staff at INTA’s headquarters in New York City, the Asia-Pacific Representative Office leads the Association’s policy, membership, marketing, and communications initiatives throughout this region. To learn more about INTA’s activities in the Asia-Pacific, please contact INTA Chief Representative Officer Seth Hays.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of this article, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

© 2022 International Trademark Association