Joe Ferretti: Working the World Stage of IP

20-05-2017

Ed Conlon

Joe Ferretti, Vice-President & Chief Counsel, Global Trademarks for PepsiCo, Inc. and 2017 INTA President, is tackling the challenges of representing trademark owners worldwide. He talks to Ed Conlon about his work so far.

It is a difficult job being a brand owner, and it is not about to get any easier.

The global impact of counterfeit goods is expected to reach $991 billion by 2022, according to a 2017 report prepared for INTA and Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP).

The picture is unsettling and the trends are heading in the wrong direction. Those who claim that the transaction of counterfeit products is a victimless crime should refer to the report’s estimate of job losses due to infringement: 5.4 million by 2022.

To tackle this global problem, brand owners—and indeed all IP stakeholders—need to collaborate and to coordinate their efforts. INTA is dedicated to protecting the rights of brand owners worldwide and to facilitating this collaboration on a global scale. Joe Ferretti (PepsiCo Inc., USA) is the latest to take on the role of INTA President, and he is very keen to maintain its core strategy of fighting against infringing activity in all four corners of the planet.

“The role is a tremendous experience; I feel honored to represent the membership of INTA. It’s a lot of work, but in my short time in the role, I’ve gained insight into how much the organization does on a daily basis around the globe. We work on policy proposals, advise on legislation, and generally help to improve the protection of trademark rights worldwide.”

INTA has a global footprint, with offices in New York City, New York; Washington, D.C.; Brussels, Belgium; Santiago, Chile; Shanghai, China; and Singapore; and a consultant based in Gurgaon, India.. The Santiago office is the most recent addition, having opened earlier this month as part of the Association’s mission to provide local access and knowledge to its members. It is the first INTA office in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“We opened an office in Chile, which highlights that INTA is a truly global organization. Having a presence in Latin America and the Caribbean means we can better address specific issues throughout the region,” he says.

After taking on the role in January, Mr. Ferretti has already chalked up a number of achievements, including engaging with the Indian government.

“We had a delegation in India and we were able to meet with various government officials and practitioners to talk about a host of issues, and that was extremely positive, building on the strong relationship we enjoy in India. We look forward to continuing that,” he says.

Mr. Ferretti also took part in the Association’s  successful Brands and Fashion conference in New York in March, and has been working hard to prepare for the Annual Meeting.  “We exceeded the 10,000 registrant number in April and are looking forward to a very successful meeting—not only in terms of numbers, but in top-notch programming,” says Mr. Ferretti. “It will be a great time to meet new friends and colleagues, and see some old ones.”

On the Front Line of Protection

Looking forward, Mr. Ferretti is taking a central role on the front line in the continuing battle against threats to brand owners—particularly “brand restrictions.” The term “brand restrictions” encompasses a number of types of legislation and policies, such as plain packaging, standardized packaging, and laws introduced to ban or reduce the use of characters (which are trademarks) on packaging. Across the world, protecting existing rights can remain an obstacle course, but Mr. Ferretti is determined to make those challenges easier to navigate.

“We’ve established a Presidential Task Force to investigate brand restrictions that are being considered, and in a few cases implemented, in countries around the world. It’s a group made up of members who span the globe, which means it has a great global presence. Moreover, the group is comprised of lawyers who are the highest level thinkers and experts in the field.  True trademark rock stars.”

“They are looking at the various implemented or proposed brand restrictions that have been passed in multiple jurisdictions, and at how to create a plan to better improve the situation for trademarks. We look forward to hearing their findings and recommendations at our Board Meeting in September.”

Over the years, he says, INTA has been on top of these issues globally and has taken important positions in court filings, for instance.

“The goal is to look at the trends and determine the things INTA can do proactively to address this issue,” he says.

Mr. Ferretti’s attention has been on the organization’s three-year 2018-2021 Strategic Plan, which is due to be revealed at the Annual Meeting in Barcelona. A key theme of the plan is promoting the value of trademarks and brands. “Practitioners are increasingly working with brands and not just trademark rights, so our attention is going beyond the scope of pure legal protections of trademarks and exploring further how the overall brand is reflective of a company’s products or services.

It’s not a simple task for Mr. Ferretti, but nobody said the job was going to be easy. Fortunately, PepsiCo is extremely supportive of his role at INTA, and as a big, international brand company, it recognizes the benefits of a strong and vocal international organization on the side of IP owners.

“I was fortunate to be well prepared for the role of President of INTA because PepsiCo is a global company with products in more than 200 jurisdictions around the world. Thus, I was already familiar with various laws and trademark issues in countries globally.  My role at PepsiCo has helped me to step right in and provide assistance to the organization,” he adds.

His time at PepsiCo has given Mr. Ferretti the necessary insight to take on the job, but balancing the two roles is not without its difficulties.

“It’s been a very busy year wearing two hats. There is no second place in my priorities; PepsiCo is 1A and INTA is 1B. It’s a busier schedule and I have to work longer hours, but it’s extremely rewarding and I feel privileged to be in this role,” he says.

“PepsiCo has been completely in favor of my role as INTA President. Management has been extremely supportive and I’m lucky to work with such an outstanding team.”

It will take more than Mr. Ferretti alone to tackle the increasing challenges that trademark and brand owners face in an ever-changing landscape. With infringement taking its toll on the global economy, he knows it requires a strong organization and an active membership to rise to the challenge.

“The key message I have for this year’s INTA Annual Meeting is if you’re not involved, get involved. Contribute as much as you can, because you will get that much more back both personally and professionally,” he says.


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WIPR