By Zvi Rosen, Assistant Chief Counsel
The International Trademark Association is one of the oldest and largest organizations of intellectual property professionals in the world and their annual meeting in Seattle – their 140th – brought together more than 10,000 attendees from 150 countries to discuss challenges of trademark protection as well as related issues including copyright, design protection, trade secrecy, and privacy.
INTA’s annual meeting is one of the best places to catch up on the latest developments in intellectual property of concern to small business, and INTA pays special attention to the concerns of small-and medium-sized businesses, announcing a task force several months ago to focus on the unique issues small businesses face.
I was able to attend sessions on protecting brands in China and enforcing IP rights in Asia, an in-depth discussion of the challenges faced by a small business in seeking design patent protection featuring experts from the United States, the European Union and Japan, a conversation about IP concerns in the gaming space, including for smaller app developers, and much more.
American small businesses that will be exporting face a complicated system around the world – their American trademarks and patents will likely not even be recognized, and while their copyrights usually will be recognized, having those copyrights enforced poses its own challenges.
At the same time, it is clear that institutions are trying to pivot to better help small businesses protect and enforce their IP around the world without the need for such a big financial outlay that it makes such protection cost-prohibitive. One perk of attending the INTA conference is that I was able to talk informally with attorneys and government officials from around the world about strategies for American small businesses to better protect their intellectual property in their nations, and found many of these individuals to be interested in strategizing ways to help American small business.
Attending the INTA conference was a chance to see the IP world of 2018 for small business, and to see how the world can be made smaller for American small businesses to allow them to export without worrying about their intellectual property being pilfered.
Zvi Rosen is an Assistant Chief Counsel for Advocacy whose portfolio includes intellectual property. Rosen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org