INTA Joins World IP Day Events Hailing SMEs

Published: April 28, 2021

World IP DayINTA marked World IP Day 2021, on April 26, with a new webpage devoted to helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) better understand the value of intellectual property (IP) and how to use it to build and sustain their businesses. Association leadership, members, and staff also co-hosted and participated in events held around the world.

INTA’s new publicly accessible page, “For SMEs,” appears in the resources section of its website. One of the highlights of INTA’s SME website content is the Pro Bono Clearinghouse, which matches eligible clients facing trademark issues with member attorneys who volunteer to provide services free of charge. Eligible clients include SMEs and others that might not otherwise have affordable access to legal assistance.

The Association’s initiatives followed the 2021 World IP Day theme of “IP and SMEs: Taking your ideas to market.” The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) sponsors World IP Day each year with the aim of increasing general understanding of IP.

In a video message on World IP Day, WIPO Director General Daren Tang said, “SMEs are the unsung heroes of our economy. They are the backbone of the global economy. That’s why the focus of the World IP Day is on SMEs.”

Among events around the world, WIPO Singapore organized an April 26 webcast on “Intellectual Property Offices Supporting Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs).” The webcast, which drew 200 IP stakeholders from 30 countries, showcased a range of views, including from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) of Singapore and the European Union IP Office.

INTA Chief Representative Officer – Europe Hélène Nicora led participants to consider roles an IP office could play in supporting SMEs during the next 10 to 15 years. The discussion was based on the “IPO of the Future Report” published by INTA late last year. Ms. Nicora stressed that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution for IP Offices, given each Office’s mandate, set of circumstances, and local business culture, but that inter-office cooperation is essential to develop best practices and push for harmonization of processes and tools.

Ling Ting Ming (OTSAW, Singapore) provided his perspective as an entrepreneur on a typical SME’s fears, challenges, and expectations and how can IPOs respond. He highlighted the need for certainty and simplification of rules and processes, and guidance on what elements of the business SMEs need to protect as IP rights.

WIPO Director, IP for Business Division, Guy Pessach concluded with a presentation of WIPO activities to support SMEs, noting, “There is a market failure which obliges offices to play this supporting role towards SMEs.”

Also among the Association’s 10 events or projects in collaboration with other organizations globally was a WIPO-produced documentary, in which 2021 INTA President Tiki Dare is one of the featured speakers.

In the documentary, Ms. Dare stressed the importance of early trademark registration. “When a business owner is focused on establishing their brand, or when their business is growing rapidly, it’s understandable that they might overlook the need to register and protect their trademarks,” she said. “This can result in dire consequences for small businesses.”

Separately, at a webcast on “How to protect your business and increase its value with trademarks and designs,” which was organized jointly by 4iP Council and INTA on April 26, an all-women panel answered questions from 90+ SMEs attending the webcast.

Claudia Tapia, chairperson of 4iP Council, moderated the webcast, which featured Kate O’Rourke (Mewburn Ellis, UK), chair of the INTA’s Pro Bono Subcommittee of the Brands for a Better Society Committee; Mascha Heidelberg (Müller Schupfner & Partner, Germany), a member of the Pro Bono Subcommittee; and Sandra Sophia Redeker (SKW Schwarz, Germany), a past member of the Pro Bono Committee.

The three INTA members gave a presentation that focused on trademarks and designs, providing concrete examples before answering questions from SMEs in attendance. Questions included practical concerns about how to distinguish between a shape trademark and protection of designs, and how to decide between registration of words and figurative trademarks.

Ms. O’Rourke promoted the INTA Pro Bono Clearinghouse, including the first virtual Pro Bono Clinic scheduled for June 15.

Other events in which INTA participated included virtual panel discussions about the role that IP plays in encouraging innovation, which was hosted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and its partner organizations; a policy dialogue with the Property Rights Alliance; and an IP awareness event hosted by the Saudi Arabia Intellectual Property Agency.

In Ukraine, the Ukraine Alliance Against Counterfeiting and Piracy with the support of Pakharenko and Partners, an INTA member, made presentations to hundreds of students at three universities as part of the Association’s Unreal Campaign. The Unreal Campaign educates consumers ages 14 to 23 about the value of trademarks and brands. The events in Ukraine are part of a partnership between the Unreal Campaign Committee, Anticounterfeiting Committee, and the Ukraine Alliance Against Counterfeiting and Piracy.

In Paraguay, the Latin America Subcommittees of the Trademark Office Practices (TOPC) and Non-Traditional Trademarks Committees (NTTC) teamed up with the Dirección Nacional de Propiedad Intellectual (DINAPI) to deliver a seminar on Non-Traditional Trademarks for SMEs.

Speakers included: Berta Davalos, interim director general of industrial property at DINAPI; Rodrigo Irazusta, DINAPI media director; Lola Kandelaft (CMS, Colombia), NTTC Latin America Subcommittee; Eduardo Kleinberg (Basham, Ringe & Correa, Mexico), TOPC Latin America Subcommittee; Diana Carolina Leandro (Estudio Benedetti, Panama), chair of the NTTC Latin America Subcommittee; Joel Talavera, national director, DINAPI, and Justin R. Young (DTL, USA), TOPC Latin America Subcommittee.

In addition, on April 27, the Organisation of Women in International Trade (OWIT) Lake Geneva (Switzerland) Chapter organized an online roundtable discussion focusing on the role and involvement of women in the IP system. Speakers discussed businesses operated by women, the challenges they face (such as difficulties accessing the IP system, lack of IP knowledge, and funding) and how to assist with specific projects and plans that empower women in business.

Representing INTA’s Indigenous Rights Committee, Debbie David (Advanz Fidelis, Malaysia) stressed the importance of identifying and recognizing indigenous rights. She also shared ideas and stories on how economic opportunities and synergies could be created between local communities and SMEs to foster a mutually beneficial and collaborative relationship.

As these events indicate, World IP Day has grown to global proportions. In a sign of its prominence, U.S. President Joe Biden issued a declaration of World IP Day. He singled out U.S. trademark law, noting, “This year marks the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Lanham Act, which is this Nation’s fundamental trademark law. Trademark protection enables small businesses to benefit from the investments that they make to establish brand awareness and brand loyalty. In addition, trademarks help to protect consumers from counterfeits and other deceitful practices that defraud them and endanger their health and safety.”

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. 

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