Singapore 2020: INTA to Bring Industry and Government Together in Asia

Published: July 1, 2018

The world’s largest gathering of intellectual property (IP) professionals will convene in Singapore in 2020 when INTA brings its Annual Meeting to Asia. Looking forward to 2020 in Singapore, INTA is already planning to include as many government representatives from Asia as possible so that brand owners can engage these officials and discuss challenges in one of the world’s fastest-growing economic regions.

In the meantime, INTA’s activities in the region continue to increase and address the immediate and long-term concerns to protect brands and consumers alike.

INTA was honored to have numerous government officials from Asia join the 2018 Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington. Candice Kwok (Marks & Clerk, Singapore), Chair of the Trademark Office Practices—Asia-Pacific Subcommittee, noted, “Having government representatives from IP offices across the region participate in this year’s committee meeting underscored the important work that INTA is doing to address the diverse set of issues, as well as common challenges, that brand owners face in Asia.” Officials from Australia, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, New Zealand, and Korea participated in various events and meetings.

INTA will continue its engagement with officials in the region during Singapore IP Week, which will begin on September 4. INTA leadership will attend and the Association will host a luncheon for the 10 ASEAN IP offices.

Cross-Border Protection, Working with Judges, and Fighting Fake Pharmaceuticals with INTERPOL
On May 14, INTA represented international brand owners at an event announcing the public release of rules establishing Indonesia Customs’ new trademark recordal system. Enacting a recordal system for trademarks is one of the major policy initiatives for which INTA has been advocating in the Asia-Pacific region. Following the passage of Regulation 20 last year to enact provisions in the 2006 Customs Law, and following Implementing Regulation No. 40 of 2018 to implement a customs recordal system, Indonesia is clearly moving in the right direction to help brand owners protect their IP rights at the border in the world’s fourth largest country by population.

INTA did raise concerns with leadership about certain provisions which may prevent widespread use of the recordal system, such as the need for registrants to have a local Indonesian business entity in order to apply for a recordal. Additionally, a stringent three-strike policy for brand owners that do not reply to customs inquires may prove to undermine the widespread adoption of the program, and, in particular, use of the program by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which would not otherwise have a business presence in Indonesia.

INTA will continue to work with customs to improve the system and looks forward to further engagement on the issue.

From May 15 to 17, INTA participated in the Operation Pangea XI Single Point of Contact (SPOC) Meeting, Asia Region, held at the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI) in Singapore. Authorities from Sri Lanka, Fiji, Japan, Singapore, the Philippines, Cambodia, South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Thailand, China, Timor Leste, Hong Kong, Bhutan, and Australia participated in the program focused on the sale of counterfeit pharmaceuticals in the region.

INTA shared important information about initiatives it is undertaking to address these issues, in particular, regarding the sale of counterfeit pharmaceuticals online. INTA’s Chief Representative, Asia-Pacific, Seth Hays, shared the findings of INTA’s Anticounterfeiting Committee’s best practices in a report called Addressing the Sale of Counterfeit Goods on the Internet.

Mr. Hays called on the attendees to encourage their governments to closely monitor this issue through research in line with a recent opinion editorial placed in regional media by INTA, titled, “In advancing e-commerce, Asean should study problem of fake goods sold online, protect consumers.”

On June 20, INTA Board Member Kowit Somwaiya (Lawplus, Thailand) spoke to a group of judges from Asia at a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office‒ASEAN Judicial Colloquium on IP. Mr. Somwaiya addressed the group of judges from the 10 ASEAN countries on how consumers are affected by infringements in trademarks and IP.

On June 21, INTA Anticounterfeiting Committee member Sharmini Lohadhasan (BP plc, Singapore) spoke on behalf of INTA at the INTERPOL Project Chain Case Presentation. Officials attended from India, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia, China, Nepal, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam. Ms. Lohadhasan shared details of a complex cross-border, e-commerce anticounterfeiting case that implicated public safety. She highlighted the need for police and customs to work together with brand owners and e-commerce platforms to combat the sale of counterfeit goods in the region.

Guiding SMEs
SMEs are the drivers of growth in Asia, and INTA is supporting these businesses through public awareness and also exploring how the Association can better support these unique businesses through a Presidential Task Force.

In support of these initiatives, on June 6, INTA participated in the Asian Business Trade Center SME Summit and spoke on a panel session on IP with representatives from the Singapore IP Academy, the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, and 3DUPlay, an Indonesian toy company. INTA raised three crucial points for SMEs to keep in mind regarding trademarks:

1. Be informed: Companies need to be aware of the consequences for not registering trademarks, including exploitation by trademark squatters.
2. Be prepared: SMEs need to dedicate time and resources to monitoring the market against counterfeits, in
particular online counterfeits.
3. Be positive: Although trademark prosecution and enforcement may seem like a cost center, the smartest
businesses always see trademarks and brands as a valuable asset and revenue generator in the long term
through asset-backed loans or licensing revenue.

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. Law & Practice updates are published without comment from INTA except where it has taken an official position.

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