Interview with 2021 INTA President Tiki Dare: Capturing Momentum
Published: January 6, 2021
Tiki Dare took office on January 1 as 2021 INTA President and the Chair of its Board of Directors. She was elected in November following more than 15 years’ experience volunteering with the Association. Ms. Dare, Vice President and Associate General Counsel at Oracle Corporation, Redwood City, California, sees 2021 as a critical year for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as industry change.
She takes office as the world emerges from a difficult year with the COVID-19 pandemic and other global issues coming to the fore. This is also a transitional year for INTA as the Association concludes its current 2018–2021 Strategic Plan and announces its plan for the next four years.
Ms. Dare sat down with the INTA Bulletin to discuss her priorities for the year, including establishing a Presidential Task Force on diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as advancing technologies and providing support for intellectual property (IP) professionals throughout their career life cycle, an Association initiative developed through Ayala Deutsch’s 2020 All-Star Presidential Task Force. She also talks about changes and benefits she has seen in her time volunteering with INTA and her experience as both outside and in-house counsel, makes recommendations for young practitioners, and highlights some top issues she anticipates for IP professionals this year.
Coming off a difficult year for everyone, what issues do you plan to focus on during your year as president?
I am so honored to serve INTA in the capacity of president. It’s been an incredible privilege watching the people who have held this role before me. I also need to express my gratitude to the many colleagues who have supported me. I wouldn’t be here if not for a lot of people, both on the INTA staff side and in my network of law firm and in-house professionals.
Let me start by introducing this year’s Presidential Task Force. It will focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). In addition to the pandemic, DEI is a critical issue we face. The United States was plunged into an urgent discussion about racial equity and racial justice in 2020. This spread around the globe. There’s just no time to waste because this issue impacts people everywhere. We’ll kick off the Presidential Task Force now, in January, and we have a huge springboard coming out of 2020. The Women’s LeadershIP Initiative produced important data, ideas, and concrete action items, and that gave us a great roadmap into diversity from the gender dimension.
The other inspiration that we have coming off 2020—as part of the beautiful baton pass from Past President Ayala Deutsch—is the All-Star Practitioner Presidential Task Force. This is also an important, concrete resource. The concept is to follow someone through their professional life cycle and give them support at all points. So that might start as early as the student stage, but definitely in the young practitioner role, to the mid-career, and the senior attorney or administrator. The toolkit under development addresses the substantive skills we need, and then what we’re calling dynamic skills, which help us advance through our careers.
Over the last few years, INTA has emerged as a thought leader.
The goal is to keep the All-Star Practitioner resource evergreen. We can always bring ourselves back to this resource and refine it to ensure that we are successfully mentoring both hard skills—Do I know how to appeal an enforcement decision that didn’t go my way in China? And then dynamic skills—What do I need to improve my leadership? How do I improve my public speaking? How can I build diverse relationships in my office? So there’s a dovetail to diversity as well. But the main objective is strong support of the professional life cycle.
We also want to make sure through that same life cycle that we’re reaching out and including everybody, that we create an inclusive environment where people can bring their whole selves to work, and where we make sure our pipeline when we hire is a broad pipeline and a diverse pipeline. You can see how all those threads fit together.
You have volunteered through INTA for more than 15 years. What changes have you seen in the Association and industry during this time?
One thing that stands out is how INTA has internationalized. INTA has been very effective in opening more global offices and expanding its geographic membership and scope. I’ve always tried to globalize myself as well. I’m very conscious that I’m a U.S. practitioner in an increasingly globalized Association and I see how much more I have to learn.
Over the last few years, INTA has emerged as a thought leader. We’re thinking about consumer trust. We’ve reported comprehensively on best practices in brand valuation and commercialization. We’re expanding into complementary IP areas, such as design rights, copyright, and data privacy. We’re also helping our members navigate new technologies and innovations like AI [artificial intelligence] and blockchain. And, in the last year alone, the Association has delivered think tank reports on the future of in-house and law firm IP departments and IP offices, The Women’s LeadershIP Initiative, and the All-Star Practitioner toolkit.
How has your involvement in the Association shaped your career and you personally?
The most important thing that I come away with from the Association is my network. My network is amazing. If I don’t know how to do something, or I haven’t done it before, or I don’t know who I can work with in a particular country, my network absolutely knows that. I have [access to] a huge amount of expertise, and I’ve made lifelong friendships around the world.
What are some top issues you see for industry and IP professionals in the coming year?
I hear from every corner: diversity, equity, and inclusion are top issues this year. Many brands intensified their focus on DEI after George Floyd was killed in May 2020, and it is critical not to lose momentum.
I hear from every corner: diversity, equity, and inclusion are top issues this year.
Another top issue is resilience and rebuilding after the pandemic. 2020 was a year of immediate reaction followed by a more measured response. Hopefully, optimistically, we are now going to move toward what we’re thinking of as post-pandemic, when most people have been vaccinated, where we’re starting to do more things in person again, where we’re not fearful of going back into a lockdown situation.
At INTA virtual meetings, we’ve had a lot of rich conversations about how you manage a brand that’s going through a crisis—and it doesn’t have to be the pandemic, it could be all kinds of crises, such as a major data breach. As an IP professional, it is helpful to have a ready plan or toolkit of best practices, providing ways to face that crisis with resilience.
How will your experience and insight as both outside counsel and in-house counsel influence how you approach issues and initiatives?
In my career, it’s really useful to have been an outside counsel. In that role you practice law during almost all of your working hours. My law firm work across many clients taught me how to use the enforcement tools that the legal profession gives us—litigation, office actions, dispute resolution for different types and sizes of conflicts. One day in my trademark law firm practice, I worked on 37 different clients in a single nine-hour day.
But when you’re in-house counsel, I think of it as wearing one team t-shirt, being fully dedicated to one company.
In the U.S., when you are the law firm IP counsel, usually you are hired by someone specialized who understands your practice and wants you to deliver a legal result. In house, often you will use legal tools to achieve a business result. When I’m in-house counsel, I want to be a trusted partner to my in-house client, the marketing team. I want to understand our brand strategy, our advertising strategy, the products we deliver, and the environment we’re creating so that a sale can take place. I need to understand what and how we sell, what our values are, who we are as a company and our reputation.
Leverage the [INTA] network, use the resources, and get to know them. Get to know they’re there and then contribute back to them to keep them rich and evergreen.
What trademark issues are particularly relevant to your work at this time?
First let me say that I am so impressed with how the IP offices around the world managed during the pandemic. We met with many heads of IP offices in developing our 2022–2025 Strategic Plan and during the virtual Annual Meeting & Leadership Meeting. In 2020, during the pandemic, they were so responsive in continuing to deliver services, transitioning office staff to work-from-home and continuing forward progress on their operational goals.
I am also grateful to my outside counsel around the world, and I expect my in-house peers are feeling similar gratitude. You couldn’t tell that there was a global pandemic based on the continuity of work and service we received. I was particularly touched in March, when our counsel in China sent masks and PPE [personal protective equipment] for our local hospital. It was needed and very much appreciated.
Last year, everyone needed to do their part to help. It was incredible to see and hear at the Annual Meeting what everyone had done to respond. Every company and firm did something, everyone played a role in the response, and nobody wanted to own it. No one was competitive in the way they talked about their contribution. That’s a unique moment.
Switching gears to your question about top issues for 2021. You will see INTA continue to advocate for harmonization, and to address brand restrictions, anticounterfeiting, and the domain name system. President-elect Zeeger Vink has helped me see a new facet of the importance of anticounterfeiting. Sustainability is important to me. Sustainability goals, like diversity and other goals aimed at social goods, are often part of a company’s brand promise. Counterfeits undermine these promises. Only a genuine branded product ensures that the brand owner’s sustainability goals, diversity goals, fair labor practices, and other key requirements are met.
What advice do you have for young practitioners who wish to rise through the ranks in INTA?
Get involved, volunteer, network, and seek out mentors. Many different kinds of contributions are valuable. Also, be alert for this—not every career will have one of these, but [look out for] some one person who will be more than a mentor, someone who will champion or sponsor you as a protégé, and give you more than just advice a few times a year. That’s not critical, but if you have that person, I would savor it.
When I’m in-house counsel, I want to be a trusted partner to my in-house client, the marketing team.
I would also advise young practitioners to develop an expertise that interests you, become that go-to person on whatever small niche that is. Develop that expertise. It’s surprisingly fast, it doesn’t take 10,000 hours to become a master of a small thing, to become the go-to person, to be the person in your firm who knows the most about a particular issue.
What are you most looking forward to during your year as president?
I am so optimistic that there will be that moment when we can all get together in person safely. We can sustain this virtual interaction, but if we get that moment when we’re back together? Amazing.
INTA is so much more than the Annual Meeting and Leadership Meeting. How do you and your team at Oracle maximize your INTA membership?
We leverage the [INTA] network, use the resources, and get to know them. Get to know they’re there and then contribute back to them to keep them rich and evergreen.
INTA is increasingly a thought leader. That puts us in a position to bring information back to our internal clients. For example, INTA published a Gen Z attitudinal study nearly two years ago. It surveyed young people to understand what would motivate them to buy genuine branded goods. It revealed how much young people value authenticity. That survey report was so valuable that I turned it over to my marketing team immediately. I wasn’t just a legal resource in that moment; I had valuable marketing insight, valuable business insight, and to be able to turn that around is incredible.
I also want to call on anyone reading this article to ask hard questions. All of us who participate in INTA leadership want to know what INTA members are thinking about, what you’re most excited to learn, and what you’re struggling with. What resources do you need? We want to be there, running slightly ahead and trying to deliver that responsiveness and those resources.
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.
© 2021 International Trademark Association
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