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GOING GLOBAL – NO BORDER IN IPR — Representatives of QBPC Participated in the 139th Annual Meeting of INTA

    From May 20 to 24, Jack Chang, QBPC Chairman, Yao Xin, Executive Director of QBPC Office, and Sherry Hu, Membership Service Manager of OBPC,Office participated in the 139th INTA Annual Meeting in Barcelona, which is known as “the pearl of the Iberian Peninsula”. This year’s meeting attracted over 10,000 experts in trademark protection, IPR professionals, and representatives from 150 universities, setting a new record in number of attendance.

    QBPC set up a booth in the exhibition area on INTA AM for the first time. Jack worked out a slogan for the QBPC booth - “Are you fighting counterfeiting alone? You can win the fight with 200 brand owners standing behind you.”Jack, Lawrence Wong of Eastman, James Luo representing MK and Zhang Xu representing BP helped to introduce QBPC to visitors at the booth. PEPSICO, SULZER, TOTAL, OUTFIT7 and other 24 service providers showed interests in QBPC and promised to introduce QBPC to their customers.

    In a meeting hosted by Unifab on May 20, Jack exchanged ideas with representatives from relevant associations and major companies on E-Commerce Law. Jack and Xin participated in INTA’s Anti-counterfeiting Workshop and Committee Meeting. Jack spoke on the panel of How to Guide to Successful Collaboration between Private and Public Sectors. He shared with audience a couple of cases and the role of QBPC platform in driving for positive system changes. On the Committee Meeting, Jack and Yao Xin invited participants to attend 2016-2017 QBPC Annual Top Ten cases in IP Protection Annoucement which would be held in June, 2017. Jack was interviewed by the team World Trademark Review on May 20 and has answered questions raised by the journalists. In China, the upcoming new e-commerce law has been the subject of intense scrutiny and the QBPC keeps a close eye on it. Jack explained that the e-commerce law needs to be revised and there are troubling aspects in terms of IP protection. For instance, he noted: “If you are an IP owner you can currently complain to a platform operator if you find infringing goods or unauthorized use of copyrighted images. The platform then sends a notice to the store operator, and sometimes they will take down the infringing goods and materials. However, the platform operator can take action if they don’t. The second paragraph of article 54 of the draft law says that if the online store operator then submits a declaration to the e-commerce platform to state that no infringement exists, the platform shall timely revoke the actions taken. The brand owner then has to file litigation or administrative actions. This will increase the need for litigation and administrative enforcement actions. But often it is hard to locate where the infringer really resides in order to file litigation with the jurisdictional court or a complaint with the jurisdictional administrative enforcement agency.”

    On May 20, with the assistance of QBPC, exchanges were conducted between the delegation of the Economic Crime Investigation Department of the Ministry of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China and some INTA members. Zhao Bin, Deputy Director General of the Economic Crime Investigation Department, introduced the work of Chinese public security departments in fighting counterfeiting and infringement and IP protection, and exchanged with participants on some law enforcement issues.

    On the morning of May 22, QBPC delegation met with INTA management, including President Joe Ferreti and CEO Etienne San de Acedo. Adhering to the protection of members’ trademark rights, close strategic cooperation, and the goal of building a framework for cooperation, Jack Chang and Joe Ferreti, on behalf of the two organizations, renewed the cooperation agreement. On the one hand, the signing of the Cooperation Agreement is the renewal of the 2014 cooperation agreement. Both sides will continue to explore cooperation in trademark, dispute resolution, and trademark right enforcement; to study and exchange information on issues in line with the interests of both sides; and to exchange experience and educational materials. On the other hand, the Agreement adds some new contents: strengthening information sharing by clearly pointing out that both sides shall introduce each other’s activities and write professional articles in their official websites and briefings, and regularly share each other’s activities; providing more benefits for members and offering discounts for participants of each other. It is particularly worth mentioning that the Agreement proposes a work plan including mutual assistance for activities, experience sharing, brand building, intellectual property publicity, member exchange and policy advocacy, providing more details about the cooperation between the two sides in the next three years. Etienne said that INTA attaches great importance to the cooperation with QBPC and looks forward to further deepening. Jack pointed out that INTA is an international organization with a history of 139 years. Although young, QBPC, as a Chinese committee dedicated to IP protection, has a solid and smooth information channels and network foundation and has made brilliant achievements in IP promotion. The cooperation between the two sides will bring more benefits for their respective members. It is believed that both sides will be able to develop the cooperation in a deeper and more stable way.

    The opening ceremony of this year’s INTA Annual Meeting (or, as local media has reportedly been calling it, the “World Trademark Congress”) began with some traditional Spanish music, but CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo’s speech will have also been music to attendee’s ears. It was a series of pledges for the future that were at the heart of Sanz de Acedo’s message. At the centre of it all was the 2018-2021 strategic plan. The plan is built on three key tenets: promoting the value of trademarks, reinforcing consumer trust and embracing innovation and change. To fulfill its role, INTA will focus on the following strategic directions: First, promote the value of trademarks and brands by protection of trademarks and related IP; harmonization of laws and convergence of practices, promoting enforcement in laws anre regulations and business value of brands; Second, reinforce consumer trust by reinforcing trademarks as sources of information and brands as promises of delivery, communicating the contribution of brands to economies and society, brand equity; Third, embrace innovation and change by evaluating changes as result of technology, innovation and evolving consumer needs and values, educating members on the impact of innovation, technology and changes on brands, and providing innovative, valuable services to members.

    One of the Co-Chair, Slobodan Petosevic explained that the topics this year was divided into sections and included those that traditionally are very well attended, such as the U.S. case law updates. Brexit is emerging as a dominant subject of conversation this year, and a European update was provided because there are so many things happening there. Until negotiations get underway, hopefully soon after the results of the 8th June general election are announced, well-informed guesswork is the best that anyone can manage about how the trademark aspects of the impending divorce will be handled; and what the interaction between the EU and UK trademark regimes will be once the split has occurred. Even then, though, given how much there is to discuss overall and the finite negotiating resources there are, it is highly unlikely that trademarks and other types of IP are going to be at the top of the priority list. Another major topic this year is brand protection under the trend of digitalization. Corporations and professionals in trademarks are encountered with new opportunities and challenges due to the rapid changes on the Internet. Various channels of social medias have provided with opportunities to interact with the public quicker and more effectively. Meanwhile, online-counterfeiting, which has not been paid much attention by professionals a decade ago, is now a new critical issue for brand corporations. According to the WIPO, the number of cyber squatting of top level domains has increased by 10% in 2016 than the previous year, reaching all time high. 

    The 2018 INTA Annual Meeting will be held from May 19 to 23 at Seattle. Jack has proposed to INTA that QBPC and INTA co-host a three-hour China Trademark Enforcement panel at the INTA’s 140 Annual Meeting.

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