A View from the Inside


A View from the Inside

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Annual Meeting Co-Chairs always face unusual challenges and new experiences, but never before quite like the ones in 2020.

When 2020 Annual Meeting Co-Chairs Elisabeth Bradley, Vice President & Assistant General Counsel, Innovation Law at Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (US), and Jo-Ann See, Director at Amica Law LLC (Singapore), began collaborating with the Project Team and INTA staff on pivoting from an onsite to an all-virtual event, they all were walking into unknown territory.

Even after being on the inside and participating in several months of compressed planning, the co-chairs had no idea what the Meeting would really be like when the virtual doors opened.

Now, after several days of being entrenched in educational sessions, networking, and meetings, they know for sure. Here, Ms. Bradley and Ms. See share some reflections.

What has been your impression of the virtual platform so far, and what has surprised you the most?

Elisabeth Bradley: I am just thrilled with the virtual platform. It is more engaging and interactive than I ever would have expected. There is truly a feeling of being connected and together! There have been great conversations in the chats, and the real-time comments make you feel as though you are sitting at a table with your friends and colleagues.

My biggest surprise so far was the excitement I felt as the Opening Ceremonies’ images and music played across all our screens. I truly felt as though Jo-Ann and I were together on stage, welcoming everyone, and kicking off what proved to be an incredible first day of the Annual Meeting.

Jo-Ann See: I remember the early days when the decision was made to go virtual. Many people were uncertain—and some even skeptical—as to how it was going to work as we all go to the INTA Annual Meetings not only for the excellent programs but also for networking and meeting friends and new colleagues.

I am therefore impressed not only with the 12 educational tracks we have, but also that we have scored a few firsts, such as a China track offered in Mandarin, as well as having many Capsule Keynotes from industry and IP offices around the world—not to mention the social networking activities where we can learn about things like phone photography, wine, and champagne!

What surprised me most is that we do indeed have a lot of opportunities to network, even in the virtual world. The INTAconnect platform and the Hospitality buildings bring people together as though we are in an “in-person” meeting. I also enjoy the camaraderie we have in the public chate during live sessions. It is really fun and exciting to connect this way.

“The INTAconnect platform and the Hospitality buildings bring people together as though we are in an ‘in-person’ meeting.” Jo-Ann See, Amica Law






What tracks or sessions are you most looking forward to this week?

EB: There are almost too many to name. I am looking forward very much to the Anticounterfeiting Workshop, including the In-House/Brand Owner session as, given our medicines and the need to protect patient safety, brand protection is of vital importance to BMS.

I am pleased that I’ve been given the opportunity to interview two of the Capsule Keynote speakers: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director Andrei Iancu and EU Intellectual Property Office Director Christian Archambeau.

We are so grateful to have the participation of these key IP officers and others at our Annual Meeting.

JS: I am excited that we have 12 educational tracks this year, and they are all so relevant to our daily practice and professional advancement.

I will be looking at the sessions on two tracks in particular: Innovation and the Future of IP, and Managing Your Brand in Times of Crisis. IP is always evolving, with new issues and developments. This becomes more crucial this year and in the coming years as we see how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the future of IP.

I am also interested in learning more about diversity and inclusion as well as related rights, as these issues are so current and relevant to our ever-evolving practice.

Ms. Bradley, BMS has sent an eight-person team to the Meeting. What do you hope they glean from the event?

EB: BMS usually sends two or three colleagues at most. Being able to send almost our entire trademark team has been so exciting, and I know the team views this as a very valuable opportunity.

I have already heard feedback about the great programming, and we are all glad about the on-demand feature, as we have had a tough time choosing between the options each day.

I hope my team enjoys connecting with our counsel from around the world, learns some innovative ways to enhance our practice, and leaves the Meeting feeling energized.

On Monday, the presentation by Duncan Wardle [Former VP of Innovation & Creativity at The Walt Disney Company] about the power of design thinking, and how diverse teams lead to more innovation, was very insightful, and I know my team found this meaningful. It was a reminder for all companies of why it is important to ensure there are many viewpoints represented on a team, and that these perspectives are heard and valued.

“We are all glad about the on-demand feature, as we have had a tough time choosing between the options each day.” Elisabeth Bradley, Bristol Myers Squibb






Ms. See, what are your suggestions for registrants from your region in terms of maximizing educational content?

JS: During some of the live sessions, through the public chats, I was delighted to note that many Asian registrants were in attendance, even though these live sessions were going on late in the night to early morning in Asia.

What was very special and exciting is how this digital world allows us to connect instantly even though we are in different time zones and spread out across the world.

I am also happy that INTA has provided Watch Parties so registrants in different time zones can learn from these sessions, and connect and chat.

In addition, there is the Asia track scheduled for Thursday which caters especially to those in this time zone. No one will miss out on the sessions due to time differences.

What do you hope registrants say when they walk away from the Meeting at the end of this week?

EB: “Wow, the 2020 Annual Meeting was exciting, engaging, and invigorating, and even more full of great content and networking opportunities than I ever could have imagined—and I am so glad that I was part of the most unique INTA Annual Meeting in history.”

JS: I hope they’ll say that they have all benefited from the educational tracks, social events, and networking that have been lined up for them.

I also hope they will say they are happy that INTA accepted the challenge and transformed the 2020 Annual Meeting into this very first virtual meeting, and that they have been part of this history-making event!

INTA 2020, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Amica Law, virtual event, networking, brand owners, trademarks, EUIPO, innovation, COVID-19, D&I, educational