The International Trademark Association’s New York-based president, Ayala Deutsch, says practitioners should be asking themselves how they can develop professionally in order to gain a better understanding of how assets are commercialized.
Leaders League. What are INTA’s key priorities?
Ayala Deutsch. We’re in the middle of a three-year strategic plan, and we have three priorities. The first is promoting the value of trademarks and brands in terms of their role in driving the economy. We also want to develop a greater recognition of how INTA views itself – historically, the focus has been on trademarks, but now we are taking a more holistic view of brands. This involves looking at brands as cultural icons and taking a broader perspective, that is, looking at a brand as beyond a logo.
The second priority is reinforcing consumer trust. There is often a personal relationship between the consumer and the brands.
This involves looking at the things we need to do to ensure you are engaging with the authentic brand and not a counterfeit. Also we want to look at the role of brands more broadly in society, particularly in relation to issues such as diversity, inclusion, and sustainability. Also, what brands can do to contribute in terms of being good corporate citizens.
Thirdly, we want to embrace innovation and change. We want to be forward thinking and open to new ideas. We are currently running initiatives looking at the trademark office, the IP law firm and the in-house IP department of the future. There is a lot of crystal ball-gazing as we consider the impact of blockchain and artificial intelligence – we’re now planning for our next strategic plan.
"IP practitioners need to open themselves up to thinking about the future. They need to understand where clients’ business is going and where the law is going"
How is INTA changing to adapt?
The organization has modernized tremendously already, we’re more strategic, we’ve expanded our horizons. We’re more data-driven, we’re commissioning impact studies. We also have initiatives looking at the commercialization of brands, and initiatives like ‘Brands for a Better Society’ [the goal of which is to show how brands help society at large by focusing on what brands are bringing to communities by moving beyond the traditional message that trademarks merely protect corporate interests]. We’re also looking at ways of identifying helpful data, impact studies, and building out the notion of brands for a better society. With regard to diversity and inclusion, we’re also developing a leadership program for women in intellectual property. Meanwhile, as an organization, we’ve increased our global footprint in terms of representative offices and membership. We’ve also improved our ability to engage with volunteers
What is INTA’s position in relation to the issue of counterfeiting?
Counterfeiting is a consistent problem. Our largest committee is the anti-counterfeiting committee, which is commenting on legislation, and developing a toolkit for brand owners. We’re focusing on changing behavior and focusing on small shipments of counterfeit – the effective ways to address that, and working with law enforcement. We also have the ‘Unreal Campaign’, which is communicating about the negative consequences of counterfeit products, including the consequences for health and safety and the economic consequences.
Tell us about the concept of ‘all star’ IP practitioners.
This is borne out of my own professional experience. I headed a global IP function from New York. My role expanded as I became deputy general counsel. It was an incredible opportunity for professional development. We want to broaden the horizon of IP practitioners, and help them to understand the commercialization of assets. We want practitioners to ask themselves how they can develop themselves as IP practitioners. We also want to identify the skillset needed to excel in areas such as copyright, data protection, and marketing. But we also ant to identify the necessary soft skills, such as communication and project management. We have a task force that is developing recommendations of what IP practitioners can do for themselves and developing an ongoing programme of support.
IP is at the intersection of new technology. IP practitioners need to open themselves up to thinking about the future. They need to understand where clients’ business is going and where the law is going. We’re looking for IP professionals to be at the forefront of ‘Brands for a Better Society’. This is a good opportunity to drive diversity and inclusion.