Impact Studies: Making the Most of Trademarks


Sarah Morgan

Impact Studies: Making the Most of Trademarks

Matjaz Slanic /

Combining data with on-the-ground knowledge helps to make INTA’s impact studies more successful, says Sheila Francis, INTA’s Director of Marketing and Liaison for the Impact Studies Committee, in an interview with Sarah Morgan.

“Numbers speak the loudest,” explains Sheila Francis, INTA’s Director, Marketing, and Liaison for the Impact Studies Committee (ISC).

Formed in 2016 at the direction of the INTA Board of Directors, the ISC was launched based on recommendations by the 2014–2015 Presidential Task Force on Committee Structure and Participation. It is currently led by Chair, Heather Steinmeyer (Anthem, Inc., USA), and Vice Chair, Philip Cox (Global Law Marketing, USA), who drive its goal of commissioning and coordinating research projects and studies that support INTA’s policy, resources, and communications activities.

In addition to liaising with committees in the Advocacy, Resources, and Communications Groups to assess needs for such studies, developing and fielding requests for proposals (RFPs) for studies, and working with internal or external resources to conduct or commission the studies, the ISC also relies on the international reach of the Association.

“It’s incredibly important to have local knowledge. Our members guide us on the industries we need to be looking at, and help us to open doors. Additionally, we work with local IP offices and seek their guidance where appropriate,” Ms. Francis says.

For Ms. Francis, this approach and the results of the studies make her job as Marketing Director a little easier and more fulfilling.

ISC at Work

Since its inception, the ISC has published two studies. In February this year, the Association issued The Economic Impacts of Counterfeiting and Piracy with the International Chamber of Commerce’s Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy. The report confirmed the findings of a 2016 report published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the EUIPO that said international trade in counterfeit and pirated products is increasing; the INTA-BASCAP report found that this illicit trade will continue to increase and forecasts that it will reach an estimated US $991 billion by 2022.

“The studies give people a concrete idea about the size of a problem. How do you tackle it? How do you prioritize things? These are the key issues we need to take to the forefront,” adds Ms. Francis.

Last year, the ISC collaborated with the Asociación Interamericana de la Propiedad Intelectual (ASIPI) on a study to determine the impact of trademark-intensive industries on the economies of Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, and Peru, which was published in December 2016. Among other important findings, that study revealed that trademark-intensive industries generated 8% - 26% of total employment; and 10% - 21% of GDP in these countries. This is equivalent to 18.5 million jobs and a value added per person of US $2,390 annually.

The impact studies use a combined approach, aimed primarily at supporting INTA’s advocacy initiatives, and are one of the most rewarding aspects of her work.

The research cuts across a range of topics and takes the form of surveys and topic-related studies, including the most recent study the Committee is working on, an ASEAN Impact Study to understand the economic impact of trademark intensive studies in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Additionally, the committee also works with other INTA committees on their study requests. This includes a request from the Internet Committee to study the cost impacts of the new gTLDs on brand owners. Looking ahead, the committee is also reviewing study requests from the Brands & Innovation Committee.

A Strategic Approach

The ISC is particularly crucial as the Association prepares to launch its 2018-2021 Strategic Plan. The new Strategic Plan will focus heavily on themes such as brands, technology, innovation, and consumer trust. All impact study requests must demonstrate how the proposed study would support an enhanced understanding of such themes and/or other specific goals of the Strategic Plan.

Additionally, to further support the implementation of the Strategic Plan, the ISC believes it is important to improve INTA’s research capabilities. This includes the following tasks for the ISC:

  1. Developing best practices and/or white papers on lessons learned from previous studies;
  2. Developing best practices on partnering with other associations on research;
  3. Developing an internship program around Impact Studies;
  4. Developing some programming for IP economists and researchers in the coming years during an Annual Meeting; and
  5. Determining whether the ISC needs to be supported by dedicated staff member as INTA matures as a research organization.

Completing the Puzzle

Communication is the final part of the ISC puzzle.

“If we want to promote our message on the importance of trademarks and IP, it’s important to speak the language of the people we are talking to,” Ms. Francis says.

Outside the IP world, very strong communication tools are needed to ensure that everyone understands the real issues.

“As an Association, we can put together best practices that can be shared. This helps to enhance our members’ benefits as well,” Ms. Francis says.

Looking ahead, Ms. Francis has some key aims: “We want to be a more proactive research unit. We are talking to other committee members to find out what other topics could merit a study so that by end of 2017, we have a research agenda we can share with the new slate of members in the new committee.” 

Requesting an Impact Study: How it Works

The ISC launched with several studies to pursue, but is now actively soliciting new requests. If you have an idea for an Impact Study, please follow the instructions below.

1. All requests must be submitted in writing via a form found at:

2. The Committee’s Study Request Intake Team then evaluates the request against the criteria that the committee developed and shared with the Board in March 2016. This takes anywhere between two and six weeks. The requester should be clear about what needs to be studied. If items are unclear, they are addressed through e-mails and/or telephone calls with the study requester. The team then scores the request against the relevant criteria

3. The Study Request Intake Team then presents their recommendations to the full committee.

4. The full committee is given an opportunity to ask any additional questions before deciding to move ahead with the study or not.

5. Once it is confirmed to move ahead with the study, the appropriate vendors are researched and a list developed.

6. An RFP is prepared and then sent to all the vendors on the list (all responses are confidential).

7. In tandem, a new project team is constituted to evaluate the responses using a score card. Those with the top scores are invited for interviews. Once a final vendor selection is made, the ISC works with the vendor to develop the study. The study requester is informed of the outcomes at all times. 

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INTA17, Sheila Francis, impact studies, trademark, proposals, studies, counterfeiting, piracy