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After taking off in Seattle, The Boeing Company rose to number one in the aerospace industry, facing many IP challenges along the way, says Senior Counsel David Shenk in an interview with Aislinn Burton.
The Boeing Company’s story dates back to 1916, when Bill Boeing started the company in Seattle, Washington. Now, having expanded across the United States and around the globe, The Boeing Company is the largest aerospace company in the world.
“The Boeing Company conducts business in every part of the world so, naturally, we have worldwide watches in place for our trademarks,” says David Shenk, Senior Trademark Counsel at The Boeing Company (USA).
He says The Boeing Company’s approach to protecting its marks, brand, and reputation “is to be very vigilant and very proactive, both in terms of filings and enforcement,” and the aerospace manufacturer will take “appropriate action” in response to any threats in this area.
In recent years, Mr. Shenk explains, a major challenge for the legal team at The Boeing Company has been the infringement of the well-known corporate symbol.
Noting that the company is “one of the most admired brands in the world,” he says it is a prime target for copycats looking to free ride on the goodwill and reputation affiliated with The Boeing Company.
Mr. Shenk’s team has found that “in some jurisdictions, copyright in conjunction with trademark rights has enabled us to prevail against infringers,” proving that a company should be armed with an arsenal of IP rights in order to best protect itself. “This has particularly been the case in China,” he adds.
Accordingly, the strength of The Boeing Company’s name is a core focus of the organization when innovating around the brand, and is “leveraged” by the company when selecting names and marks for new products or services.
Branding is therefore a collaborative process at The Boeing Company, Mr. Shenk explains. “My team and I work with our communications colleagues during the naming process for each new product and service,” he says, to make sure that proposed new marks are available for use and capable of protection.
Equally, when it comes to collaborating with other businesses and countries, Mr. Shenk says “it is in everyone’s interest to find ways to engage in fair and responsible trade practices.”
The Boeing Company’s aircrafts and other products and services connect people from countries all over the world.
Mr. Shenk notes that one of the biggest markets for Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ products and Boeing Global Services’ support services is China.
Following President Trump’s proposal to impose U.S. tariffs of up to US $150 billion of Chinese goods in response to alleged IP theft by Chinese companies, trade relations have been somewhat strained between the two countries.
China initially responded to the proposed tariffs by providing a list of its own tariffs that could affect US $50 billion worth of U.S. imports, which may include some of The Boeing Company’s 737 airplanes.
As The Boeing Company has a firm base in the United States and a solid trade relationship with China, Mr. Shenk says it has been “proactively” engaging with the U.S. and Chinese governments in efforts to resolve the dispute.
According to Mr. Shenk, the Chinese market “will only grow in years to come,” and The Boeing Company is advocating that the two governments should “build on the recent assurances by U.S. and Chinese leaders that productive talks are ongoing.”
Although The Boeing Company has grown into a multinational corporation with interests across the world, it has kept its roots in Seattle.
Mr. Shenk explains that Boeing Commercial Airlines, the division responsible for making the 787 Dreamliner airplane, 747 Jumbo Jet, and all the other 7-series aircrafts, is still based in the Puget Sound region of Washington State, including in Seattle.
“The Boeing Company remains the single largest private employer in the Seattle area."
“The Boeing Company remains the single largest private employer in the Seattle area, with over 60,000 employees located here,” Mr. Shenk says.
As a company with a social conscience, The Boeing Company seeks to operate profitably but with integrity, ensuring that it is a “responsible partner, neighbor, and citizen to the diverse communities and customers” it serves, Mr. Shenk says.
In 1970 a donation from the Boeing Employee’s Good Neighbor Fund helped to start Seattle’s Medic One, the first paramedic service in the country.
The Boeing Company also invests in the local environment; it helped to remove contamination from the Lower Duwamish Waterway in Seattle by cleaning up a one-mile stretch of the waterway next to one of the company’s former plants and building a wildlife habitat.
In July 2017 the aircraft manufacturer implemented a renewed strategy to refresh The Boeing Company’s philanthropic organization, now called Boeing Global Engagement.
The new organization seeks to provide assistance to develop “tomorrow’s innovators” through investments in education and skills of the future; to lend assistance to military veterans; and to support the communities where its employees live and work. Mr. Shenk explains that the company’s overarching aim is to “connect, protect, explore, and inspire,” in relation to the employees, customers, and the communities The Boeing Company works with.
INTA, INTA18, David Shenk, Boeing, CSR, branding