June 6, 2019
The essential IP industry news from all around the world were shared at the International Trademark Association’s Annual Meeting in Boston. One clear current trend is the rise of Africa’s significance in the IP sector.
With a record-breaking attendance of 11,000 people, IP professionals and global brand holders convened at the INTA Annual Meeting to develop international practices for the trademark industry. Kolster was an active participant at the event and, as usual, participated in INTA’s committee work.
One actual topic of discussion was nontraditional trademarks, which is a relevant theme also in Finland. The revised Finnish Trademarks Act, which became effective as of this May, removes the requirement of a graphical representation. This practice is in line with the EU legislation as well. The reform has made it possible to register completely new kinds of trademarks, including motion, multimedia or holograms, among others.
Joose Kilpimaa, Director of Trademarks at Kolster, is a member of INTA’s Non-Traditional Marks Committee. A representative of EUIPO attended INTA Annual Meeting as a guest of the Committee.
“In the EU, the registration of new, non-traditional trademarks has already been possible for 18 months. It has been surprising that the application volumes for non-traditional trademarks have remained quite modest. For example, during this 18-month period, there have been 54 motion mark applications, 25 multimedia mark applications and 8 hologram mark applications. Due to this modest volume of applications, no established practices have yet been formed”, Kilpimaa explains.
Investing in a trademark gives a competitive edge
Joose Kilpimaa says that, in Boston, EUIPO encouraged companies to broaden their horizons and innovate new ways of gaining a competitive advantage through trademarks.
“We have heard a similar message from our clients”, Kilpimaa adds.
The discussions at the conference emphasised that trademarks and brands create a competitive advantage specifically through better commitment of consumers to the products and involving them in brand development.
“In order for the investments in trademarks and the brand to provide a competitive advantage, the company needs to protect its trademarks and maintain its brand through continuous innovation. Without a competitive edge, the brand becomes a zombie that is not worth keeping alive”, Kilpimaa says.
Trademarks and brands are similar to other company investments in that they promote business growth.
”Managing to protect trademarks or successfully completing an innovative brand redesign can give a company a considerable growth boost. Our clients shared numerous examples of these with us at the conference. They emphasised the growing importance of trademarks and brands in engaging customers and thereby driving growth”, Kilpimaa explains.
China reforms its trademark law
At INTA, Jani Kaulo, Partner at Kolster, met with Kolster’s business partners especially from China, other parts of Asia and Africa. With Chinese partners, one particular topic of interest was the reform of the Chinese trademark law.
“The new Chinese trademark law will become effective in November 2019. It provides better tools for addressing trademark squatting – fraudulent registration of trademarks – but does not eliminate the problem entirely. Time will tell how the new law will affect trademark squatting in China”, Jani Kaulo says.
According to Kaulo, Africa is also becoming increasingly significant in the IP sector.
“It is very important to network with capable and dependable partners in key African countries and to build good relationships so that we can protect our clients’ intellectual property professionally also on the African continent.”
A comprehensive partner network is vital
Kolster is known for its extensive international network of partners. At INTA, Kolster’s Lawyer Sanna Häikiö, Trademark Director Joose Kilpimaa, Partner Jani Kaulo and Kolster China Desk™ specialist Zhangping Wu met with a large number of partners, global brand holders and clients over the course of five days.
“Due to the regional nature of trademark protection, a comprehensive, high-quality agent and partner network is vital. INTA provides excellent opportunities for networking with future colleagues around the world and for exchanging current information and news from the IP sector. We met partner agencies who we already knew and mapped out potential new partners”, Sanna Häikiö explains.
In addition, the Kolster team attended trademark owners’ attorney events discussing current topics and instructions as well as the owners’ goals and opinions regarding the protection of their brands. The largest trademark owners, in particular, organise extensive attorney events in connection with INTA where they can meet at once a large group of attorneys that they cooperate with in various countries.
“The comments and ideas provided by global trademark owners will also help us protect the brands and interests of our clients in Finland”, Häikiö says
Kolster's Partner Jani Kaulo and lawyer Sanna Häikiö preparing for meetings with clients and cooperatin partners.
One of Kolster's Japan cooperation partners, Senior Managing Partner Masahiro Asamura, Asamura Patent Office p.c. and Business Development Manager and IP Specialist Zhangping Wu, Kolster China Desk™.
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