The Business of Brands Track Leader: Adding ‘Business’ to the Brand Lawyer’s Role
Published: March 30, 2022
“Brands don’t exist in a vacuum. There’s an ecosystem that creates, markets, and sells products and services.” That is the foundation underlying The Business of Brands track, one of seven educational tracks composing the 2022 Annual Meeting Live+.
In these changing times, this ecosystem—and, therefore, The Business of Brands track—is especially significant for brand legal practitioners who must detect or address a variety of issues, from protection and enforcement of IP rights to commercialization of brands, as well as how to be seen as a trusted advisor to their clients.
This robust track consists of seven sessions, presented either in person or on the virtual platform. On May 2, the in-person sessions are:
- Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, and NFT Breakdown—What You Need to Know
- You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know: How to Ethically Acquire the Necessary Expertise to Counsel a Client on New Business or Industry Developments (Ethics)
- Balancing IP Protection with Consumer Passion for Your Brand; The Modern Innovative License: Creative Monetization Strategies for Your Brand; The Interplay Between Brand Value and ESG Initiatives; and In Brands We Trust
On May 3, on the virtual platform, go online to watch Transfer Pricing and Brands (Ownership and Valuation).
Jill Goldman, vice president, senior counsel Intellectual Property & Contracts, American Bankers Association (Washington, D.C., USA), is the track leader of The Business of Brands track. At INTA, she currently serves on the 2022 Presidential Task Force on IP Reporting for Brands and is a member of the Leadership Development Committee.
In an interview with the INTA Bulletin, Ms. Goldman discusses hot topics on the business side of brands, such as brand value and monetization strategies, shares insights into some Annual Meeting sessions, and, on a more personal note, offers tourist tips for her home city, Washington, D.C., where the in-person Meeting will take place, April 30‒May 4.
What does the “business of brands” mean to you?
The “business of brands” is a new perspective on intellectual property that looks at brands through the lens of a brand as an asset and revenue generator. This goes one step further than the usual day-to-day business activities of brand registration, maintenance, and enforcement. With the ever-evolving legal environment and social media trends, businesses need to adapt and pivot, not only to survive, but also to flourish as a successful business venture.
INTA has increasingly been incorporating various aspects of the “business of brands” into its educational offerings, research studies, and even the 2022 Presidential Task Force on IP Reporting for Brands, of which you are a member. What do these activities say about the changing role of brand lawyers?
Brand lawyers always had to wear many hats, such as trademark, copyright, privacy, taxation, and contract/licensing. Now, they have to add a business one to the mix. With more companies recognizing the value of intangible assets, it is timely that those intangibles are now included in traditional methods for evaluating tangible assets—like on a balance sheet or through other standards practices.
In today’s fast-paced and consumer-driven world, how do innovation, technology, and consumer trust contribute to brand value and brand equity?
Innovation and technology are a chess game of sorts for brand owners, providing the ability to protect a brand’s value. With the new world of the metaverse, NFTs, AI, blockchain, crypto, etc., a brand must think multiple moves ahead and how this can affect their brand and what implications will arise. Then, they must play out the moves as they happen and make informed decisions on whether they must act defensively or offensively in light of the new technology.
… businesses need to adapt and pivot, not only to survive, but also to flourish as a successful business venture.
This is evidenced by all the newly filed USPTO registrations for meta images that brands are investing in, whether or not they have actual use today. I, like my colleagues, will be very interested in seeing the outcome of some pending lawsuits in this space in order to best determine how to advise my company appropriately and effectively due to the new technology.
Consumer trust is the life blood of brand equity. Once a brand is tarnished in the court of public opinion, it can be insurmountable to overcome. Without naming names, we all know about brands that had a favorable connotation in the public’s mind and then either a scandal broke or a force majeure event occurred. In these cases, the response was critical in determining whether the brand continued in a positive or negative view. While the actions of a brand are important, the public’s impression and opinion judging such a response informs the level of consumer trust the public has for a brand. The level of consumer trust is paramount in maintaining the success of the brand.
There seems to be a lot of buzz around the Annual Meeting session The Modern Innovative License: Creative Monetization Strategies for Your Brands. Can you explain what will be discussed at this session and why you think there is so much interest in this at this time?
While licensing is nothing new, the creative strategies employed in relation to new and emerging technology and trends are a hot topic for exploration. I’m very excited about the diverse panel of experts who will discuss practical and innovative solutions to monetize their brands, whether through third-party relationships, such as social media influencers and celebrities, or through collaboration and partnerships with third parties.
As a nonprofit in-house counsel and one of the speakers at the session Balancing IP Protection with Consumer Passion for Your Brand, what are some of the creative solutions you will be suggesting to meet the challenges faced by nonprofits in managing and protecting their marks?
It is widely known that nonprofits are established for a public purpose, such as scientific, education, religious, or charitable purposes, to name a few. However, practitioners need to realize that the nonprofit is still a brand that relies on the goodwill established from its name. It then becomes a balance between the protection and commercialization of its brand while still aligning with its nonprofit purpose.
In the session, we are going to explore topics that include the structure, which may or may not contain other entities such as for-profits, LLC, or other IRC Section 501(c) designations; innovative ways to resource social media for brand protection; challenges related to such enforcement; and use of for-profits for monetization. Through the discussion with notable nonprofits with centuries of established history and brand identity and recognition, we hope to share some practical tips and stories of how we balance the consuming public’s passion, our nonprofits, and the good work we do, while still protecting the goodwill and reputation of the brand itself.
While licensing is nothing new, the creative strategies employed in relation to new and emerging technology and trends are a hot topic for exploration.
This past month of March has focused on empowering and elevating women: Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day celebrated on March 8. Given gender inequality across sectors, what have you found to be the keys to success in navigating a career as a women executive in the male-dominated world of financial services?
It is a constant challenge that takes a concerted effort on a continuous basis. There are some companies, like my own, that are doing their part to elevate gender equality. We had our first female chair of our board a few years ago and we enjoy a higher percentage of female leadership at the executive level.
On a personal level, the mantra that I live by is “Let the work speak for itself.” While opportunities are not always easily given to women, I feel that the work and the work product I deliver is the great equalizer, and the rest is all white noise. I stand behind my work ethic, integrity, dedication, resourcefulness, and leadership, and I strive for those qualities to be recognized based on the qualities themselves and not my gender.
In the end, you can only control your actions and reactions and not the perceptions of others that may or may not be based on stereotypical gender biases. While women have made great strides in the world in business, in law, in IP, the fact that there is still a distinction proves that we have not established an equilibrium yet. All that should matter is the work, and the rest should follow regardless of gender.
With the Annual Meeting coming to your city, what suggestions do you have for registrants to make the most of their visit?
Since I have been living/working in the Washington, D.C., metro area for over 15 years, I can say there are numerous amazing offerings here. If you haven’t gone to the Smithsonian museums, I suggest you find some time to visit. Some museums may have timed entry, so you need a ticket in advance, but all are free. My favorites are the National Portrait Gallery, the Freer Gallery of Art, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Also if you have time, go across the bridge to Virginia and visit Old Town Alexandria. You can have a meal in Gadsby’s Tavern, circa 1770, a place where [U.S. President] George Washington dined and where they held [U.S. President Thomas] Jefferson’s inaugural ball. Check out the waterfront for a beautiful view, and visit the Torpedo Factory Art Center, with its multi-featured art galleries housed in the former U.S. Naval Torpedo Station —not to mention the great shops and restaurants!
Learn more and register for the 2022 Annual Meeting Live+.
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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