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20 May 2018

Closing the IP Knowledge Gap

Tish Berard (Hearts On Fire Company, LLC, USA), INTA’s 2018 President, says there will be a few surprises when she speaks at the Opening Ceremonies later today.

Ms. Berard began her INTA presidency in January this year. She previously was the Vice President and General Counsel for Hearts On Fire Company, a privately-held diamond jewelry design and manufacturing business based in Boston, Massachusetts, and is currently serving as Hearts On Fire’s INTA designee.

Ms. Berard’s background at a small to medium-sized enterprise (SME), where she was the only legal counsel, is somewhat unusual for an INTA President. She follows a long list of INTA Presidents who have come from major corporations, including Immediate Past President Joe Ferretti (PepsiCo, Inc., USA), 2016 President Ronald van Tuijl (JT International S.A., Switzerland), and 2015 President J. Scott Evans (Adobe Systems, USA).

Being the sole person in charge of legal affairs at Hearts On Fire often required dealing with non-legal specialists, in addition to lawyers, says Ms. Berard. This experience has allowed her, when warranted, to speak in “non-legalese” and focus on what’s important for whichever audience she is working with.

“When speaking with consumers and businesses, there often is a disconnect between what IP is, as explained by us, and what they understand it to be,” says Ms. Berard. That highlights the need for legal professionals to communicate better with those outside the field, she adds.

Asked about INTA’s 2018–2021 Strategic Plan, Ms. Berard says she is focused on all three of its major tenets: promoting the value of trademarks and brands, reinforcing consumer trust, and embracing innovation and change. She adds that all three areas are covered by a 2018 Presidential Task Force—Small-to-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Entrepreneurs—she is spearheading.

In the area of SMEs, INTA can become “a major player,” says Ms. Berard. She says INTA needs to educate SMEs and entrepreneurs about IP, especially in an era when new companies can be created much more easily via the Internet. There is a gap between knowing about IP and understanding its importance, particularly in the early stages of a business.

“Often SMEs are focused on raising capital, which is important, but when the brand is left to the end of the process, by then it might be too late—bad-faith actors can prey on or trade off goodwill,” she explains.

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