Record Crowd Gathers at 2019 Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Published: July 1, 2019

This year, INTA’s 141st Annual Meeting, which took place May 18–22 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, drew a record crowd, increasing attendance 4.3 percent from the 2018 Annual Meeting. With more than 11,360 registrants (2,577 of whom were first-timers) hailing from 154 countries, it is the largest Annual Meeting in INTA history. Bringing together brand professionals, business leaders, government officials, and the media, it underscores the critical role of the Annual Meeting as the global trademark community’s premier event of the year.

The Annual Meeting’s Opening Ceremony kicked off in full force on May 19, with remarks from INTA President David Lossignol (Novartis Pharma AG, Switzerland) and INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo, and an inspiring keynote presentation from professional athlete, motivational speaker, and environmental advocate Michael Haddad.

The Power of the Human Spirit

Mr. Haddad was paralyzed at the age of six, leaving more than 75 percent of his body completely paralyzed. “At this young age, I woke up to a reality of life imprisonment,” he said. But the belief in the power of choice gave him the ability to surmount his limitations. “Disability is only a state of mind,” he said. “There is nothing impossible in the human spirit.”

In closing, he imparted a powerful message for the INTA audience: “INTA is leading in intellectual property—you are the center of trust and brand loyalty. It’s time for us together to work on a social development program and lead by example. Ladies and gentlemen, if I, Michael Haddad, am standing here in front of you, advocating for climate change and development goals, imagine what you standing on your feet could do.”

The Power of Dreams

Mr. Lossignol opened his talk by kicking a football across the stage, illustrating his passion for his beloved Manchester United team—and at the same time illustrating why we love brands and become loyal to them: “Brands are inspirational. They represent a lifestyle for their customers—or fans—to aspire to,” he said.

“For years, we’ve witnessed the rise of socially conscious, belief-driven consumers, and brand owners have taken heed of their calls,” he went on to say. “But this relationship between brands and consumers, centered on the expectation of doing good, runs deeper than this … it’s built on trust.”

Mr. Lossignol pointed to the results of INTA’s recently released Gen Z Insights: Brands and Counterfeit Products study, in which 85 percent of respondents said they believe brands should aim to do good in the world. Brands today must show a commitment to social values such as philanthropy, civil rights, and environmental protection, he noted. To further this ideal, Mr. Lossignol announced the formation of a new Presidential Task Force titled “Brands for a Better Society” to show that brands can indeed stand for quality and corporate responsibility. But, he pointed out, a direct threat to this notion is the pernicious problem of counterfeiting. That is why INTA’s Unreal Campaign has been educating young consumers (ages 14-18) on the dangers of counterfeits and the value of trademarks. As a result of the Gen Z study’s findings, he announced that the Unreal Campaign has now expanded its outreach to include consumers up to the age of 23.

To support this initiative, and to take the idea to next level, Mr. Lossingnol announced a major call to action—INTA’s Unreal Challenge—which calls on each member of the INTA community to volunteer to give a student presentation about the importance of trademarks and brands, and the dangers of counterfeit products. With the broad scope of INTA membership, there is huge potential to make a significant impact to reduce the demand for counterfeits, he said. “A world without counterfeits is not an impossible dream, if we work together,” he declared.

Unlocking the Power of INTA

Mr. Sanz de Acedo came on stage following a video in which Gen Z students (ages 18–23) discussed the ethics and actions of brands as influencers of their purchasing decisions. Mr. Sanz de Acedo punctuated a key message coming from Gen Z today: “Brands must lead in dealing with critical issues facing humanity and the planet.”

Taking a broad view, he went on to share with the audience some of the most pervasive trends influencing the global marketplace today, including changing consumer behavior, the impact of technology and innovation, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Shifting focus, Mr. Sanz de Acedo provided a snapshot of the state-of-play in the world of intellectual property (IP), touching upon some of the key challenges and opportunities facing the industry, such as increased significance of intangible assets to businesses, technology adoption in the IP industry, the privatization of public sector functions, and the enhanced role of online platforms in providing IP services.

Concluding his remarks, he described how INTA is responding to these changes by adapting its committee structure, conducting research to provide an outlook on the future role of IP offices and brand professionals, and demonstrating the economic and social value of brands.

During his speech Mr. Sanz de Acedo also pointed to the many corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives underway at the Annual Meeting, including Bikes for Kids, Dress for Success, and a volunteer service day for The Greater Boston Food Bank. “This is who we are. We are a big family. And this is what we do,” he said. “Of course we do trademarks. Of course we do brands. But we have a responsibility and an opportunity to do better for society.”

For more on CSR activities at the 2019 Annual Meeting, click here, and for complete coverage of the Opening Ceremony, click here.

Global Collaborations

The INTA Annual Meeting is a place for building relationships—with colleagues and associates—and also with partners across the globe.

On May 19, INTA signed a cooperation agreement with the China Trademark Association that will serve to further strengthen the well-established relationship between the two entities. The agreement establishes a framework for collaborations in education, training, and information sharing.

INTA and Kenya’s Anti Counterfeit Authority signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on May 20, demonstrating the strong collaboration between the two organizations. The MoU will serve as a guide for future collaboration, including trainings, promotion of INTA’s Unreal Campaign, and anticounterfeiting initiatives.

Inspiring Programming, Educational Highlights

The Annual Meeting offered an expansive selection of educational offerings and interactive panels that kept registrants engaged and informed. Here are just a few highlights.

  • In two impactful Lunch and Learn sessions, registrants got to have a meal and get inspired at the same time. Dynamic motivational speaker Kaplan Mobray had registrants thinking in new ways about building their personal brands and being their own superheroes. Mr. Mobray stressed that “knowing yourself”—understanding what you have to offer that is truly unique—is an essential aspect of personal branding. Mark Beese, President of Leadership for Lawyers, USA, shared insight with registrants on how to clarify their unique value proposition in the legal field, and how marketing can build reputation. In building relationships with clients, Mr. Beese encouraged practitioners to move away from the mindset of “selling” and instead engage with clients from a position of helpfulness.
  • Panelists explained how trademarks can help to protect IP rights relating to fictional characters in films and comic books during Character Wars: Trademarks vs. Copyright Protection for Fictional Characters.
  • 4D Printing: How Is 4D Printing Revolutionizing the World in Which We Live? gave registrants new insight into how 4D is emerging as the next technological advancement in printing, and how this will affect brands in the future.
  • Speakers at The Times They Are a Changin’: Maximizing the Perspectives Around Us, discussed the importance of fostering diversity in recruitment and retention.
  • During The Cost of Combating Counterfeits: How to Maximize Your Return on a Limited Budget, a panel of in-house counsel emphasized the importance of a data-driven strategy in efforts to combat the increasing threat of global counterfeiting.
  • Speakers from Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zimbabwe gave an overview of leading and emerging technologies in Africa, and how they can be protected during Regional Update: Protecting Technology in Africa.
  • A dedicated Anticounterfeiting Workshop gave in-house practitioners and government officials the opportunity to share best practices in the fight against counterfeiting, and to discuss strategies for boosting partnerships and collaboration.
  • During the day-long IP Office Workshop: Working Toward the 21st Century IP Office (coordinated by the National Institute for the Defense of Competition, Intellectual Property Protection (INDECOPI Peru), IP Australia, and the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property), IP officials exchanged ideas and insights, and networking with peers from around the globe.
You can read all about these sessions, and much more, in the Preview editionSaturday editionSunday editionMonday editionTuesday edition, and Wednesday edition of the INTA Daily News. Course materials are also available at the Registrants’ Portal.

As if all that programming weren’t enough, registrants were also able to tune into INTA’s innovative Brand & New podcast, broadcasted live each day of the Meeting, and covering trending topics relating to innovation and IP.

The Annual Meeting Exhibition Hall was abuzz with 162 exhibitors, representing the latest information, developments, and innovations from organizations across the globe.

In addition to the offerings of the Exhibition Hall and educational programming, registrants had the chance to relax and enjoy networking events such as the First-time Orientation and Reception, a whole host of regional receptions, and networking excursions including a Red Sox Game at Fenway Park and a Roll Up Your Sleeves Lobster Clambake. The 2019 Annual Meeting wrapped up with a glittering Grand Finale at the Museum of Science, Boston.

INTA would like to thank all the exhibitors and sponsors who made this a very special event.

Looking Ahead

INTA is looking forward to welcoming you to the 2020 Annual Meeting, April 25-29 in Singapore! Southeast Asia is one of the world’s largest and fastest growing markets, and Singapore is an amazing and vibrant city, full of diversity and activity. Be sure to be there as we gather to connect, learn, and stay up to date on the key trademark issues that are top of mind for all brand owners.

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.

© 2019 International Trademark Association