14 March 2016

ITMA 2016 preview: a blend of history and heritage

The theme for this year’s Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (ITMA) spring conference is history and heritage, with the venue appropriately a stone’s throw from Horse Guards Parade and the gala dinner taking place at the Tower of London.

ITMA president Chris McLeod says of the theme: “There are new developments with geographical indications (GIs) against the background of royal warrants [marks of recognition for suppliers of goods], so it’s a broad theme and we’ve got old and new together, looking back at the history of intellectual property.”

ITMA was incorporated in 1934 and was known for lobbying for the enactment of the Trade Marks Act in 1938.

Fast-forward to 2016 and ITMA helps its 1,500 members develop within the trademark profession.

“Members like the conference because the speakers are all high calibre and we emphasise the educational aspect, but the social aspects are also good quality. The Tower of London is a great venue, and there’s lots of time for networking,” McLeod says.

“The balance between those is key; people don’t just want social and they don’t just want education.”

Some sessions to watch out for at this conference include “Geographical indications, passion and purpose”,on Thursday, March 17, from 12:20pm to 13:00pm.

Alan Park from the Scotch Whisky Association is the speaker. He will discuss protecting cultural heritage and ensuring legal protection when GIs are enforced in practice around the world.

“This is an interesting one because Scotch whisky is a massive guarantee of quality, but whisky is now produced everywhere, so the association has to police people constantly,” says McLeod.

Another interesting session features Carrie Bradley from UK-based law firm Stobbs IP. The session, which centres on “Zombie brands: is it safe to resurrect abandoned historic brands?”, is from 15:00pm to 15:40pm on Thursday.

“It’s a broad theme and we’ve got old and new together, looking back at the history of intellectual property.”

McLeod explains that zombie branding is “where companies acquire and then bring back to life things that have gone off the market”.

On Friday, March 18, the history and heritage theme comes into play, with speakers such as Richard Park from the Royal Warrant Holders Association discussing the practicalities of applying for and obtaining royal warrants.

“This session will be interesting because the royal warrant is, in a way, a brand and is a badge of quality that’s quite hard to get. I’m sure the session will give some insight into it,” McLeod says.

Clive Cheesman and Christopher Vanet from the College of Arms will be speaking in the “Coats of arms and modern trademark law and practice” session from 11:50am to 12:30pm on Friday.

“A coat of arms is probably one of the oldest indicators of intellectual property and is not really a trademark, but an indicator of origin,” McLeod explains.

One of the other highlights is Sarah McPoland from Nestlé speaking on “Evolving brands, evolving challenges”from 14:40pm to 15:20pm on Friday. She will be talking about evolving and historic brands, as well as advising on IP rights in the digital world to ensure necessary rights and licences are obtained.

WIPR will be attending the conference so if you spot one of our team please stop and say hello!

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