This weekend the 137th INTA conference kicks off in San Diego. Billed as the biggest ever event for global Intellectual Property professionals and executives, over 9,500 people, from more than 150 countries will attend the hundreds of briefings, meetings, presentations and parties over the four days in the Southern Californian sunshine.
The core themes under discussion do not vary from year to year, venue to venue. Intellectual Property infringement may have gone Hi-Tech with the adoption of the Internet in the past fifteen years, but issues of counterfeiting, piracy and fraud are as old as the city of San Diego itself. The fact that the annual conference is in its 137th year tells a story in itself. Back in 1878 when a group of 17 merchants got together in New York City the hot topics would have included Thomas Edison's patent of the phonograph and the age-old battle against forgers.
The conference has in recent years attracted more interest from the domain name community, and with hot topics such as the launch of the controversial dotSucks new gTLD, there will be some serious debates about whether the protectors of IP portfolios really have the desire and appetite to go through a second expansion of the new gTLD program, which is gaining some serious momentum in some areas. With the existing program only just at the half-way point, and end user adoption still disappointing, some commentators will justifiably push for patience to allow round one to deliver on its promises before rushing ahead with a second wave.
One very interesting project which continues to grow through the work of INTA is the Unreal Campaign. Launched at the 2012 meeting in Washington DC, the Unreal Campaign aims to teach young people about the value of trademarks and the importance of buying genuine products. With the Black Market economy now worth in excess of $1.81 trillion according to Havocscope, the importance of educating tomorrow’s consumers today on the dangers and economic risks of using counterfeit goods is paramount.
Last year in Hong Kong the main topics focused on the Asian perspective of IP infringement, both in terms of the problems that sat almost on the doorstep and the solutions available for organisations and it's hard to see how the intervening twelve months has changed anything. A brand protection strategy is more important than ever for organisation that will at least reduce the issue. The cure, unfortunately, is much more complex, driven by our consumer-appetite for having branded goods at all costs.
For brand holders the conference still offers opportunities to meet and share experiences and ideas with colleagues from different geographies and markets as well as understanding from global IP solutions providers what services they could offer to help keep them one step ahead of the risks and infringements that exist both online and off.
NetNames will be very active at the event, moderating two table discussions on the new gTLD program and strategies for combating the challenges posed by infringements on online marketplaces respectively. In addition we will be co-presenting with Sandvik Intellectual Property, Deloitte's Trademark Clearinghouse and ICM Registry on a range of IP-related topics and how we partner with them to deliver opportunities and mitigate threats.