23 May 2018

Getting IP to the Top of the Agenda

Raising the visibility of INTA’s positions on trademark issues in the United States and ensuring the U.S. legislature understands why they are so important requires a lot of determination and drive.

INTA’s Senior Director of Government Relations Deborah Cohn, who was Commissioner of Trademarks for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) from 2010 to 2014, is up for the job.

Based in INTA’s Washington, D.C., Representative Office, Ms. Cohn serves as a liaison with legislatures and agencies and provides input to inform decision-making on policy and laws that will affect IP in the United States.

In May 2017, the Association passed a Board Resolution on an amendment to the Lanham Act, the United States’ trademark statute, to include a rebuttable presumption of irreparable harm when a claimant seeks injunctive relief and there has been a finding of liability.

Now, Ms. Cohn and her team are actively advocating for this amendment to ensure it becomes a reality.

“That’s where it gets tricky. The legislature has many competing interests and priorities coming at them, and we have to convince them that this is an important thing to do,” she says.

Developing and advocating INTA’s policies on trademark issues is only one component of the job. Ms. Cohn is the Association’s primary contact with the USPTO, and she engages with the agency on the Association’s behalf. She regularly involves U.S. members in this communication through several of INTA’s advocacy committees.

“INTA is one of the major stakeholders providing input on trademark issues, and we have to be active and engaged to be viewed this way.”

“The USPTO is very interested in hearing how various policies and issues would be received by stakeholders,” she notes. “INTA is one of the major stakeholders providing input on trademark issues, and we have to be active and engaged to be viewed this way.”

The work of INTA’s Washington, D.C., Representative Office, as well as the Association’s communications team, contributes to keeping the Association visible and relevant.

A Cross-Party Vehicle

To build public education and awareness around INTA’s policies priorities, such as the troubling upswing in counterfeiting, the Association works with the U.S. Congressional Trademark Caucus (CTC).

INTA has been instrumental in helping to build the CTC: membership has soared, from a handful of people a few years ago when it began, to more than 30 members of Congress who now participate. The CTC is bipartisan and across both legislative chambers.

“IP is generally not a partisan issue, and that means that, regardless of political party people, can and do work together,” Ms. Cohn states.

But because lawmakers face so many important issues, the challenge is making sure that INTA draws their attention effectively to trademark concerns.

This is why the Association holds events in Congress, as part of its awareness-raising efforts. Most recently, on April 25, INTA held a Sports Industry Briefing focused on IP enforcement, and on World IP Day on April 26,the Association jointly hosted with the USPTO and the IP stakeholder community a briefing aligned with the  World IP Day theme of “Powering Change: women in innovation and creativity.”

“We make sure to organize events that will be compelling and get our message across,” concludes Ms. Cohn.

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