19 May 2019

Ethics and Trademark Law: Tread Carefully

There’s no doubt that lawyers all over the world face ethical conundrums in their day-to-day practice, but for trademark practitioners, the challenges can be unusual, especially because ethical mishaps can cause a major public embarrassment due to the brand-central nature of trademark work.

On Sunday, May 19, 2:30 pm to 3:45 pm, the vast range of ethical issues facing trademark lawyers will be explored in CSU54 Ethics in the Practice of Trademark Law, from confidentiality, to conflicts of interest (both legal and business), to the use of private investigators.

Philip Furgang, Partner at Furgang & Adwar LLP (USA), who will be moderating the session, says: “The panel will opine on ethical issues that arise when representing celebrities; the disqualification of counsel in U.S. litigation arising out of allegations of questionable ethical conduct; and ethical considerations that arise internationally in cross-border representation.”

Darryl Cohen, Partner at Cohen, Cooper, Estep & Allen LLC (USA), says that then you’re protecting high-profile, well-known personalities, image is everything, so it’s important to protect brands “vigorously” and keep them “pristine.” However, this should not be at the expense of everything else.

“Be aware: the intersection between protecting your client’s brand and losing the war of public opinion is narrow,” Mr. Cohen warns. He adds that to protect brands but avoid negative public attention, trademark practitioners must tread carefully.

As well as exploring the range of ethical issues facing trademark practitioners, the session will also cover some of the processes being introduced to minimize ethically undesirable outcomes.

Nick Redfearn, Deputy CEO of Rouse (Indonesia) explains that the panel will discuss “the arrival in the IP world of some of the systems required in other professional sectors,” such as anti-money laundering systems and data privacy regulations.

He says that conflicts of interest will be another area discussed, since this is “an increasingly common client concern.”  For example, the panel will make the distinction between when the conflict is real and when it is perceived (but not real), and why this may matter to clients.

Mr. Furgang says the panel is uniquely qualified to address these ethical issues and provide session attendees with useful insight into them.

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