Putting trademarks on TMAP

Joe Alagna of 101domain provides a round-up of a successful TMAP 2016

The International Trademark Association held its Trademark Administrators and Practitioners (TMAP) Meeting from 14 to 16 September this year. Washington DC made a beautiful backdrop to the event providing excellent restaurants and sightseeing venues for attendees and vendors to enjoy in their down time. The meeting venue was the Washington Hilton located in the middle of all the action.

More than 400 participants attended, mostly from North America, however, 30 percent of the attendees came from South America, Europe, and Asia. According to Ken King, INTA’s exhibit and sponsorship coordinator, this was the association’s biggest TMAP event to date.

TMAP is different to INTA’s larger annual conference. The atmosphere is more intimate, allowing attendees to network closely, mingle with solution providers and vendors, and mostly, to learn from the expert sessions provided. There is more focus on trademarks rather than patents and attendees titles include attorneys, paralegals and trademark managers. Many attendees used the opportunity to build their Continuing Legal Education (CLE) and Continuing Professional Development (CDP) points.

A new feature this year was table topics. It was the first time that TMAP offered the opportunity and Thursday afternoon (15 September) was dedicated to them. Titles revealed topics such as ‘Universal Truths in Docketing’, ‘Geolocation and Trademark Infringement on the Internet’, and ‘How Copyright Can Enhance Brand Protection’. There were 21 table topics presented in all and it went very well. I’m sure this will become a tradition at TMAP in the same way it has at INTA’s larger annual conferences. This year’s meeting had some very useful new topics. On Thursday, after welcoming remarks and introductions, the first session began on ‘Technologies of Tomorrow’. This was a panel format moderated by Marc Trachtenberg of Greenberg Traurig. The other panellists were Amanda Conti-Duhaime of Ford Chrysler Automobiles US and Catherine Mennenga of General Electric Company.

Trachtenberg has done extensive research on 3D printing, a technology through which we can inexpensively create increasingly complex objects at the push of a button. During his presentation, he pointed out that even homes are being built using 3D printing machines. We asked him how large a 3D printer could get and he explained: “The 3D printer used to build that house was over 50 feet long and could print walls with plumbing systems embedded as part of the walls.” It was a fascinating discussion.

The other topic of the morning was that the internet of things (IoT). The IoT involves ever more complex connections online between smart machines and household objects. This technology is growing exponentially. Companies such as Nest Labs are networking smartphones with home thermostats, smoke detectors, and even webcams, and that’s just the beginning. The iOT is expanding to cars, refrigerators, washing machines, and storage units. This is creating a wealth of data and information to manage.

The afternoon discussion moderated by Shelagh Carnegie of Gowling WLG (Canada) was focused on global trademark prosecution. It was perfect for this audience as it included trademark practitioners from around the globe.

The keynote address was delivered by Tina Tchen, an assistant to the president and chief of staff to the First Lady, Michelle Obama. Her presentation included information on the work they are doing at the Council on Women and Girls. She did a good job of staying out of politics even though the US is in the middle of election season.

After lunch Jennifer Bollen of Expedia moderated a panel that discussed aspects of ‘Brand Management in the Context of Expanding Social Networks’. Panellists included Ali Buttars of Twitter, Karen Carlson of AOL, and Lindsay Kaplan of the law firm, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton.

They pointed out that in a world where communications can spread so rapidly, sometimes it’s just as important to ‘be nice’.

Trademark enforcement doesn’t have to begin with cease and desist letters. In fact, they mentioned that sometimes all you have to do is ask nicely. They talked about ways to handle fans on social networks, for example.

Fans can often be anxious to work with brands if they inadvertently make a mistake. It was a revealing and important discussion pushing forward the topic of handling your brand in social and viral world.

On Thursday evening, at least five groups of up to 15 people per group enjoyed dinner and networking together. INTA assigned several hosts to organise dinners at some of the nicest restaurants in Washington DC. These included the Bombay Club, the Capitol Hill Club and La Perla. If only we could go to them all! It was a great way to make new friends and learn things.

Our group included people from Procter & Gamble, Data Smart Services, Seiter IP Consultants, and several IP law firms. After dinner, we all went to a wonderful reception held by Corsearch.

On Friday (16 September), the first keynote was given by Amy Myers of Mars Global Services. She offered ideas for marketers and demonstrated why brands are so important to consumers. Other sessions included ‘Managing Domain Portfolios’, and ‘How to Run Contests, Sweepstakes and Giveaways’.

TMAP was a great success. Vendors and attendees agreed that it would be worth coming to again.
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