Trevor Little

For the first World Trademark Review podcast of 2017, we speak to Joseph Ferretti, the new president of the International Trademark Association (INTA). In a wide-ranging interview, covering such topics as policy around brand restrictions and plain packaging, engagement with the ICANN world, the choice of future event locations and the association’s international expansion, he provides exclusive insight into the future positioning of the organisation.

Over the past few years there have been a number of notable firsts at the INTA, as it seeks to deepen its international presence. This includes impact studies into the economic impact of trademark-intensive industries in Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Panama and Peru (with an ASEAN study imminent), the opening of an office in Singapore (with a Chile office coming soon), a first major conference in Africa, the annual meeting heading to Asia and the Leadership event taking place in Panama. As we suggest in the interview, while INTA has long been an international association, there has been a clear drive to focus on the ‘I’ of INTA over recent years.

As Ferretti notes, the international expansion is one of the four directions of the current strategic plan, so the direction was clearly signposted. It’s reasonable to expect the international focus to continue and later this year the association will release a new strategic plan, which Ferretti notes will be “a positive evolution”. While unable to provide details as this stage, the approach taken to its formulation suggests that it will represent a departure from the past.

He explains: “What’s interesting about the new strategic plan is that there will be two key components that mark a broadened scope for INTA. First, we employed a new methodology for the development of the plan. We not only consulted with people in our own community, such as the INTA board, INTA members and staff, WIPO, TM5 and leading IP offices. This time we also reached out to people outside our immediate community. Examples include lawmakers, academics, C-suite and marketing professionals and consumers.”

In an era of IP scepticism, efforts to ensure that consumers and the public are brought into the trademark camp are important, and the need to do so will inform the second component of the broadened scope, with the association looking to focus the discussion on ‘brands’ rather than the legal rights that trademarks represent. In short, perhaps it is time to speak a new language: “Trademark people are not only working with trademarks but are also working to support the brand. Consumers understand the concept of the brand, but the concept of the trademark per se can be a little difficult to understand for people outside the community. It’s therefore important that INTA speak in ways that people can understand and, for these reasons, you will see that the new strategic plan will have a strong focus on ‘brands’.”

You can stream the interview below, or subscribe to the World Trademark Review podcast on iTunesSoundcloud, Stitcher, Pocket Casts or Tune-In.

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