2022 Trademark Administrators and Practitioners Meeting: The Long-Awaited Reunion Is Here
Published: July 20, 2022
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” asked Alice. “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” responded the Cheshire Cat. For many in the global intellectual property (IP) community, the destination this September is the long-awaited Trademark Administrators and Practitioners (TMAP) Meeting, which is set to return after a two-year hiatus. The 2022 TMAP Meeting takes place from September 11 to 13, in Arlington, Virginia, USA, and features a novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland‒themed educational program.
The 2022 TMAP Co-Chairs Mandy Lutz, senior intellectual property paralegal at Maxar Technologies (USA), and Jan Gerd Mietzel, managing partner at RMW&C Mietzel Wohlnick & Calheiros Partnerschaft mbB (Germany), sat down with the INTA Bulletin to provide a peak down the rabbit hole into the planning behind the Meeting’s cutting-edge educational program and Business Development (BD) opportunities.
TMAP has returned after two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought about tremendous change in all aspects of our personal and professional lives. How have things changed specifically for trademark administrators (TMAs) during this time?
Mandy Lutz: There are two trends at play in the legal field right now that I want to mention. The first is kind of obvious: many of us are working from home or have a hybrid work situation. This has forced many TMAs and young practitioners to learn the new skill set of keeping communications open in a virtual setting. People have also been challenged to prove that they can still be productive in this type of setting.
The other aspect of change to mention, at least here in the U.S., is the hiring climate. It’s become very much an employee’s market with a lot of open roles that organizations are trying to fill and recruit for. Employers have realized that they have to do more to attract and retain talent right now.
These trends have led many people to think about their career paths and make changes. And, for those who may have recently taken a new role, they may be taking on new responsibilities that they’ve never had before. The TMAP Meeting educational program is an opportunity to explore topics that you might not be an expert in yet, but you find you’re facing in a new role.
Robust legal operations are critical to the success of in-house and law firm practices. What role do TMAs play in this space?
ML: As a trademark administrator, you become more than just the trademark support person for your organization: you begin to function as the go-to person for project coordination, and your manager will look to you to be the person that evaluates different resources and systems, and talks to outside firms and vendors. You’re going to be the one who corrals together a bunch of different stakeholders for any given project.
Jan Gerd Mietzel: The paralegals I work with are the ones who are acutely aware of the processes and able to manage many of the day-to-day tasks; as a consequence, they’re also the ones best placed to discuss how to improve the processes.
As a trademark administrator, you become more than just the trademark support person for your organization: you begin to function as the go-to person for project coordination.—Mandy Lutz
We have a workshop on legal process improvement, and one of the moderators, Maria Govis (smartvokat, Germany), is actually a former paralegal of ours. [Innovation in Wonderland: Interactive Workshop on Legal Process Improvement] Maria worked here for three years while she was still in law school, and I was always amazed by her. For every process, she came up with better ways to do things. She made a knowledge booklet, and everybody is still consulting and adding to this book today.
ML: We also have the Brand Marketplace Exhibition Hall, so there will be a lot of opportunities to see the new systems and solutions available.
The educational program is themed around Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the 1865 novel by Lewis Carroll. What inspired this unique theme and how is it reflected in the program?
JGM: I’ve been a big fan of Lewis Carroll’s books since I was a teenager. What’s interesting about Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is that there’s so much more to this book than what you initially might think—there’s so many different aspects to it.
The very obvious thing you can find if you go through the program is that we’ve tried to reflect the book in all the session titles—the titles are actual quotes that you find throughout Alice in Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass.
Beyond that, and taking it to a slightly more abstract level, we are trying to cover a really broad range of topics, which I think is exactly what you also find in the Alice books. Finally, we advise people to be like Alice when they come into the conference: be open and ask a lot of questions!
Will there be any talking caterpillars?
JGM: We want to leave some secrets! There will be the Cheshire Cat Challenge. At the end of each session, we’ll have a six-question Kahoot! (an app-based multiple-choice quiz). The three people who provide the most correct answers throughout the entire conference will win the Cheshire Cat Challenge Award!
Brands are not just about trademarks. How does this year’s program cover topics beyond trademarks?
ML: We’re covering a range of topics and issues: from complementary rights, such as copyrights, designs, and domains—to emerging issues, including the role of brand influencers, and what are perhaps two of the hottest topics right now: NTFs [non-fungible tokens] and the metaverse. These new technologies are still a very gray area, but this panel session [Beware, The Jabberwocky: NFTs and Their Role in the Metaverse] will give people a chance to hear what’s going on right now in this space, but also to brainstorm about the future and the impact of these technologies on IP law.
We’re covering a range of topics and issues: from complementary rights, such as copyrights, designs, and domains—to emerging issues, including the role of brand influencers, and what are perhaps two of the hottest topics right now: NTFs [non-fungible tokens] and the metaverse.—Jan Gerd Mietzel
JGM: Among the other sessions also worth highlighting are Avoiding the Pool of Tears: ADR & Mediation in IP, which goes beyond trademarks to discuss new trends and best practices in dispute resolution, along with Let’s Fight Till Six and Then Have Dinner, a workshop that allows registrants to experience firsthand how it is to be in a mediation session, and Tweedledee and Tweedledum or a Less Perfect Reflection? How Design and Copyright Are Used by Different Industries, where we look at how these complimentary rights are used in two or three different industries. Similarly, social media and influencers—and their confluence—play an increasingly important role in a brand’s marketing mix. In The Wonderland of Social Media: Influencers and Brands, panelists will look at how influencers use brands and the challenges of engaging influencers on social media.
The educational program has a strong emphasis on professional development, a strategic priority for INTA. How is the program designed to help registrants in their professional development and how should registrants prepare to get the most out of these offerings?
ML: We have several different career development sessions, which we’re really excited about. We’re going to have separate sessions for TMAs and young practitioners where they will hear from their peers about their career paths and learn some tips and tricks. There is also a practical session for all registrants at all stages of their careers, which will provide best practices for working effectively with outside counsel and in-house clients. In terms of professional development programming that we can all gain from, we will also have sessions covering diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the trademark practice.
JGM: I advise registrants to sit down and study the program, draft some questions for each session, and think about what you want to gain from a session and what answers you’re looking for. The nice thing about TMAP is that it’s an intimate event; registrants will have the opportunity to engage with the speakers not only during the sessions but also outside the sessions and throughout the Meeting.
As noted, the program also touches on another strategic priority for INTA: DEI. Can you tell us more about that?
JGM: Firstly, it’s worth noting that our speakers are themselves an incredibly diverse group. This by itself goes very far to enrich the program and the discussions we will have in the sessions.
We’re going to have separate career development sessions for TMAs and young practitioners where they will hear from peers about their career paths and learn some tips and tricks.—Mandy Lutz
ML: I’m really looking forward to Inclusive Wonderland: A Conversation About Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion in Trademark Practice. Ultimately, what I think is important for registrants to keep in mind is that you want to be an ally for others in the workplace. We hope that this session will help registrants learn new ways to be an ally and how to go back to work and effectively put that into practice.
JGM: We also have the Women’s LeadershIP Initiative’s session, Every Adventure Requires a First Step, which will deal with the issue of mentorship. Our two main senior speakers will be joined by the rising stars they’re mentoring. I’m looking forward to this session, as mentorship can play a pivotal role in a one’s career, and we can all learn how to be better mentors and mentees.
The educational program is complemented by a variety of Business Development (BD) opportunities. What can you tell us about the various BD activities?
ML: We have so many fun networking and social events this year. There’s the boat cruise, rock climbing, and a volunteer event. On the first night, we have the Dine-Around event, which has proven to be really popular in the past.
JGM: We’ll also start some days with a morning run (or walk!) and yoga, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to network. We have The Walrus and the Carpenter—Networking Reception on Monday evening. The advice (paraphrased from Alice) for networking and BD is: Don’t be an oyster!
For those who know the story, it’s very obvious why you wouldn’t want to be an oyster at that specific reception. But in general, it really means be open and approach people. We will also have a buddy match program for first-time registrants to partner with someone who has been to more of these meetings. We’re encouraging the more senior registrants to be open and approach newcomers and help break the oyster shell!
Don’t be an oyster!—Jan Gerd Mietzel
The Meeting is taking place in Arlington, Virginia. Why is this a good venue for TMAP? What advice do you have for registrants as they prepare to stay in Arlington for a few days?
ML: Fiona Scott [trademark paralegal at Amazon.com, Inc. (USA)] is local to the area and she gave us some great advice. Arlington is a stone’s throw away from Washington, D.C., which has a rich community of brand owners, law firms, and academic institutions. This is bolstered by the United States Patent and Trademark Office just down the road, in Alexandria, Virginia. The area also has a great selection of museums, restaurants, and other things to do, outside the Meeting. In short, the location offers a good mix of Business Development and social activities.
Why should young practitioners and those new to trademarks consider attending this year’s Meeting?
JGM: We have a program that is explicitly catering to young practitioners, and we want you at this Meeting! It’s a great opportunity precisely because it’s a smaller gathering; it’s not overwhelming like some of the larger events can be, where your schedule is jam-packed and you’re running from meeting to meeting.
We should not forget to mention the discount! This is the first year that TMAP is offering all young practitioners a discounted registration fee of USD $700. Previously, such a discount was offered only to members of the TMA Committee and Young Practitioners Committee.
What about the 2022 TMAP are you most looking forward to?
JGM: Franky, we’re both just so excited that this is finally happening!
ML: Agreed. We’ve been planning this Meeting since January 2020. To see all these friendly faces in person will be great. The project team and staff have worked incredibly hard … for a long time! All the sessions and all the networking and social events are going to be amazing.
Learn more and register for the 2022 TMAP Meeting.
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.
© 2022 International Trademark Association
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