The International Trademark Association Announces its 2023 Award Recipients in Houston, Texas
Published: November 14, 2023
Houston, Texas—November 14, 2023—The International Trademark Association (INTA) announced the recipients of its 2023 volunteer awards, including the President’s Award, INTA Service Awards, Tomorrow’s Leader Award, as well as the winners of its second Open Innovation Challenge competition this year.
The announcements came at INTA’s 2023 Leadership Meeting, an invitation-only event for the Association’s Board of Directors and member volunteers.
“More than 1,600 registrants make this INTA’s largest-ever Leadership Meeting,” noted INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo. “These awards celebrate these incredible volunteers and their contributions to our industry and community.”
“These awards also showcase the positive role of intellectual property in society as a driver of innovation and creativity, economic growth, and consumer safety,” added Mr. Sanz de Acedo.
The President’s Award is awarded annually to one or more individuals who have, over the course of their careers, made a lasting impact on INTA and its mission and who have had a profound impact on the global trademark community. This year’s winner is John L. Welch, Counsel at Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks, P.C. (Boston, Massachusetts, USA).
Through his decades-long involvement in INTA, Mr. Welch has made invaluable contributions to the intellectual property (IP) community. Mr. Welch has served on The Trademark Reporter® (TMR) since 2004, co-authored the United States Annual Review issue of the TMR since 2012, and co-presented the Annual Review of U.S. Federal Case Law and TTAB Developments at the Annual Meeting also since 2012. In 2022, Mr. Welch was selected as part of INTA’s Recognition of High-Performing Committee Members Program for his dedication to and advancement of the TMR Committee. As the author behind the widely read TTABlog, Mr. Welch’s voice is one that is listened to and respected throughout the IP community.
“The President’s Award is a wonderful honor, an exclamation point on my career as a trademark lawyer and as, in some small way, an educator,” said Mr. Welch. “INTA has given me the opportunity to meet and work with trademark professionals from every corner of the world, to learn all I can about trademark law and practice, and to pass along whatever knowledge and insights I’ve gained. When I consider the list of prior recipients of this award, I truly appreciate its significance.”
INTA’s service awards are given in three categories to recognize individuals who provide exemplary service to the Association: The Advancement of Association Objectives Award, Members for a Better Society Award, and Membership Champion Award.
The recipients of the 2023 Advancement of Association Objectives award are Sheja Ehtesham, Managing Partner at ALG India Law Offices LLP (New Delhi, India) and Clark Lackert, Deputy General Counsel of the World Trade Centers Association, Inc. (New York, New York, USA) who have won the award together, and Daniel Hwang, IP Partner at Global IP Partners LLC (Washington D.C., USA).
Ms. Ehtesham and Mr. Lackert led INTA’s IP in Space Task Force, which published its IP in Space white paper earlier this year. Together with their task force volunteers, they produced a thorough and well-researched work that was the first of its kind in both topic and scope. And, once the report was completed, they made great efforts to promote and share the report and its findings, including through panel presentations and fireside chats at the 2022 Leadership Meeting and the 2023 Annual Meeting, and by participating on INTA’s Brand & New podcast.
“There is so much that INTA, as an organization and as a community, has given me: mentorship, access to diverse perspectives and invaluable experiences, a platform to hone my leadership skills. I’ve gained valued friends and clients all over the world, but perhaps most importantly, I’ve gained the feeling that I belong,” said Ms. Ehtesham. “Winning this award is an honor and a professional highlight. It fuels me to be bigger, better, and more; for myself, my community, and for the INTA community to which I belong.”
Mr. Lackert said in response to receiving his award, “For over 35 years, I have worked with my colleagues at INTA and addressed the ‘hot topics’ of the day, from the Madrid Protocol to the World Trade Organization TRIPS Agreement, to geographical indications, to domain names, and now to space law. To be honored with this award is nothing short of the crowning achievement of my professional life. It shows that my efforts have been recognized and appreciated by my peers.”
Mr. Hwang served as the National Chair for the Association’s 2022–2023 Saul Lefkowitz Moot Court Competition project team. When Mr. Hwang faced the difficult task of facilitating the Competition in an in-person format after years of holding virtual events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he provided consistent support, direction, and encouragement to volunteers across the U.S., delivering a successful competition season and providing an opportunity for future practitioners to benefit from the positive experience of fine-tuning their craft. Through his commendable leadership of the Saul Lefkowitz Moot Court Competition, Mr. Hwang advanced the Association’s goal of supporting the development of IP professionals.
“I love the Lefkowitz Competition! This Award reflects the mentoring and friendship of the various members and the Lefkowitz volunteers,” said Mr. Hwang. “I’m honored that INTA recognizes the success and high quality of the Saul Lefkowitz Moot Court Competition made possible by the Lefkowitz Committee’s leadership (past and current) and all of the fantastic volunteer brief-reading judges, oral argument judges, and bailiffs. I hope to be part of Lefkowitz for the next 17 years or more.”
The recipients of the 2023 INTA Members for a Better Society award are Virginia Cervieri, Senior Partner at Cervieri Monsuarez (Montevido, Uruguay), Radhika Raju, Partner at Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP (Washington, D.C., USA), and Rachel Armstrong, Partner at Gowling WLG (Dubai, United Arab Emirates).
Dr. Cervieri has spent much of her career at the forefront in the battle against counterfeiting. First serving on INTA’s Anticounterfeiting Committee in the 2010–2011 term, she would go on to chair the committee for the 2018–2019 term, in addition to serving and leading various other INTA committees and project teams over the years. Dr. Cervieri is an advocate for the sustainable destruction of counterfeit products. To further this goal, her firm, Cervieri Monsuarez, partnered with the Secretary of Sports of Uruguay to create the SCORE Green project, a national campaign that creates and donates basketball backboards made from the recycled plastics of counterfeit goods. By mid-2023, the project benefited more than 2,000 children. Her firm is now working on a second campaign called ’Entre Manos,’ focused on recycling counterfeit textile products.
“I have been a member of INTA for more than 20 years. This time allowed me to create links with leaders in intellectual property from all around the world. Also, being Chair of the Anticounterfeiting Committee led me to contact authorities and references in the matter,” said Dr. Cervieri said upon receiving her award. “Winning this award means reaffirming that we are going down the right path, that our effort and work are worth it, and that we are passionate about being a company that cares about sustainability and the circular economy.”
Throughout her time serving on INTA’s Pro Bono Committee, Ms. Raju has exemplified an unwavering commitment to pro bono service. Ms. Raju’s passion for providing legal assistance to underserved communities and her efforts in expanding the availability of pro bono services are why she is a true asset to the intellectual property (IP) community. Ms. Raju is a 2021 Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll recipient, an honor bestowed by the Washington, D.C., Courts to attorneys who have contributed 50 hours or more of pro bono work to those who cannot afford legal counsel. In 2022, she doubled her efforts, volunteering more than 100 hours of her time. Being appointed to the Honor Roll serves as testament to her ongoing commitment to pro bono service as well as her leadership roles in both her law firm and the INTA Pro Bono Committee.
Ms. Raju offered her thoughts on this recognition, “I am thrilled that INTA has chosen to highlight the importance of pro bono work and INTA’s Pro Bono Clearinghouse through this award. I am grateful to INTA and my law firm, Wilkinson Barker Knauer, for giving me the opportunity to help individuals—especially minority entrepreneurs, small businesses, and nonprofits—protect their brands, which puts them on a more stable footing as their businesses grow.”
Ms. Armstrong has been deeply involved in and is a current member of The Women’s LeadershIP Initiative (WLI) project team, including her most recent role as a panel speaker during the WLI Workshop, “Shifting the Scales: Creating Allies by Inviting a Balanced and Retainable Support Structure,” at the this year’s Annual Meeting in Singapore. Ms. Armstrong has served on the Indigenous Rights Committee and will serve on the Brands and Innovation Committee next term.
“I am honored to have been awarded the INTA Members for a Better Society Award and express my deepest gratitude to the Association for this recognition. Over the last 12 months, while actively involved in The Women’s LeadershIP Initiative, I have seen firsthand the fantastic efforts made by INTA as an organization to address the challenges females still face in the workplace, within both IP and more widely,” Ms. Armstrong explained. “I am grateful for the opportunity to work as part of The Women’s LeadershIP initiative and all other committees I am involved with as part of INTA.”
The recipients of the 2023 Membership Champion Award are Brian Buss, Director at CBIZ Forensic Consulting Group (San Diego, California, USA), and Pieter van den Bulck, Managing Director at Stobbs (Eindhoven, Netherlands).
As a member of the Commercialization of Brands Committee, Mr. Buss helped to create, and has been a powerful force in promoting, the Finance for Non-Finance Legal Professionals Certificate program. This is INTA’s first certificate program and its newest educational offering. As a core driver behind the program and a key course trainer, Mr. Buss has leveraged this opportunity to become a consistent voice for expanding the expertise of his fellow INTA members, facilitating the sharing of knowledge and understanding of crucial financial principles throughout the Association.
“I was part of the team that crafted the first certificate program, but this Award should be viewed as part of the process to increase awareness of the role finance has in managing trademarks,” said Mr. Buss. “INTA’s greatest impact for me is as a resource for knowledge. While working with other professionals on INTA committees, sharing ideas at Annual Meetings, and attending INTA events, I’ve gained a lot of unique knowledge and experience. This knowledge and experience allow me to better serve clients and contribute to the IP community within INTA and with other IP organizations.”
As the Co-Chair of INTA’s Europe Global Advisory Council during the 2022–2023 committee term, Mr. van den Bulck has represented INTA in various policy dialogues, including recently at two such events covering designs, and the metaverse and NFTs. His contributions have been invaluable to the comments made on the public consultation for the 2024 Work Program of the EU Observatory on Infringements of IPRs. He played a key role in organizing a policy dialogue with the Benelux IP Office, where he proactively researched, contacted, and shared details of prospective corporate members in the region. Mr. van den Bulck has consistently demonstrated an astute awareness of the Association membership and public policy advocacy objectives.
Upon receiving the award, Mr. van den Bulck remarked, “I cannot think of another field of law that is so international in which a global network is so crucial. INTA made it possible for me to connect with peers, clients, and wonderful people from all over the world. I look forward to being part of the INTA community for as long as I work in IP, sharing with and learning from the most inspirational colleagues and friends.”
The Tomorrow’s Leader Award recognizes two outstanding young practitioners with less than five years of IP experience, for their early leadership in the intellectual property industry. This year they are Ashneet Hanspal, Senior Associate at Ahlawat & Associates (New Delhi, India), andDat Nguyen, Associate at Baker Mckenzie (Cau Giay, Vietnam).
Recently promoted to Senior Associate at Ahlawat and Associates, Ms. Hanspal has laid the groundwork for a formidable career in the IP field. Through pro bono work, Ms. Hanspal has advised several businesses and organizations regarding their trademark applications. Ms. Hanspal is a member of many IP-related networks including ILN, Interlegal, ASSOCHAM, and Globalaw, to which she regularly contributes articles and resources. Ms. Hanspal expresses a forward-thinking outlook on IP Law and has demonstrated an acute interest in how brands can enforce their trademark rights amid emerging technologies such as AI and the Metaverse. Ms. Hanspal will be a member of the Trademark Reporter Committee (TMR) next term.
“It is truly an honor to be selected as a recipient for INTA’s 2023 Tomorrow’s Leader Award. I’m deeply grateful and humbled to receive this recognition, and regard this as both a valuable milestone in my career as well as a goalpost for the future. I hope to be able to work toward exemplifying the ideals this award represents and look forward to getting further involved in and giving back to the INTA community,” said Ms. Hanspal.
While still early in his career, Mr. Nguyen has already established himself as a leader in the IP field. He has engaged in pro bono projects working with Vietnam-based startups to help protect and register their trademark rights in the Asia Pacific. During his time in practice so far, Mr. Nguyen has authored several articles to raise awareness of IP issues and has spoken at trademark-law-related events. He also supports the development of IP professionals through his lectures at the Vietnam Judicial Academy and Hanoi Law University. In the coming term, he will join INTA’s Famous and Well-Known Marks Committee.
Upon receiving his award, Mr. Nguyen remarked, “Winning INTA’s 2023 Tomorrow’s Leader Award marks a significant milestone in my career, reaffirming my unwavering dedication to practicing IP law. I look forward to collaborating with IP practitioners worldwide and contributing to our international IP community and society as a whole. INTA, as a global hub for trademark leaders and experts, is the perfect platform for me to start turning my goals into reality.”
The Open Innovation Challenge is a platform for start-ups, scale-ups, entrepreneurs, investors, and business consultants to promote IP commercialization and developing solutions that serve our communities. With three categories (early-stage start-up, early-stage scale-up, and mid-stage start-up), INTA celebrates innovation at its beginning. Winners receive an INTA membership, one hour of virtual brand measurement consultation, 90 minutes of legal counsel on an effective local IP legal strategy or going global with their IP assets, one hour of ESG consultation, and one hour of virtual commercial real estate professional consultation.
The winner in the early stage start-up is Jason Lei of DiTiNow, which offers an NFT-based low-cost, data-driven anticounterfeiting solution to help brand owners fight IP infringement. It uses technology that is the first to use a decentralized title recording system to identify and prevent fakes, while still ensuring privacy protection.
“Participating in INTA’s Open Innovation Challenge has been instrumental in broadening our understanding of intellectual property’s pivotal role within our startup. It has significantly bolstered our ability to enhance our technology and refine our comprehension, empowering us to strategically harness intellectual property to drive innovation and secure our position in the market.”
Aaron Glick, winner of the mid-stage start-up category, is CEO of Ember Sleep (Orlando, Florida, USA). Ember Sleep addresses sleep apnea, a condition that takes a significant toll on on the physical and well-being of so many. The winning device offers a non-invasive solution that stimulates airway muscles during sleep to improve breathing, providing an alternative to surgery.
“Our involvement in INTA’s Open Innovation Challenge enhanced our comprehension of intellectual property. As a medical device startup, this intellectual property is an integral part of our company,” said Mr. Glick. “This experience offered a platform for us to learn from industry experts and fellow innovators, enhancing our position for long-term success in a dynamic landscape by providing a more comprehensive understanding of the intricacies of intellectual property rights.”
The winner of the early stage scale-up category is Matteo Amerio, CEO and co-founder of Navee. Navee addresses the growing issue of online counterfeiting and fraud using generative AI and image intelligence. Their technology verifies the authenticity of online listings within seconds, helping protect brands and the consumers who depend on them.
“This journey is deepening our understanding of INTA’s critical role in safeguarding innovation and brand integrity, something that we will continue exploring with next week’s committees,” said Mr. Amerio. “Through our collaborations with global brands, we’ve pioneered artificial intelligence-based tools that change the rules of enforcement and reduce the impact of counterfeits and parallel markets on our clients. This challenge is a good reminder that technology is an important part of the solution, but that problems and tools need to be embraced by people and organizations to have a widespread impact and adoption. INTA is clearly the best enabler and partner to bring research breakthroughs to a market in strong need of it and lead the way of AI adoption in the space.”
About the International Trademark Association
The International Trademark Association (INTA) is a global association of brand owners and professionals dedicated to supporting trademarks and complementary intellectual property (IP) to foster consumer trust, economic growth, and innovation, and committed to building a better society through brands. Members include nearly 6,000 organizations, representing more than 33,500 individuals (trademark owners, professionals, and academics) from 181 countries, who benefit from the Association’s global trademark resources, policy development, education and training, and international network. Founded in 1878, INTA is headquartered in New York City, with offices in Beijing, Brussels, Santiago, Singapore, and the Washington, D.C., Metro Area, and representatives in Amman, Nairobi, and New Delhi. For more information, visit inta.org.
Senior Strategist, Communications
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