22 September 2022TrademarksSarah Speight

MARQUES: European TM drop ‘is a reality’

Annual trademark conference kicks off in Madrid | Director general of the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office flags slow-down in trademarks as a cause for concern.

The MARQUES 36th Annual Conference met in Madrid this week at its first full face-to-face event since before the pandemic.

The focus of this year’s event is a celebration of trademarks, with panel sessions addressing how sustainability and new technologies will shape the future of brands.

The conference, held this week September 20-23, received more than 900 delegates from 12 countries at the Hotel Riu and the Barcelo Torre de Madrid.

José Antonio Gil Celedonio, director general of the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (SPTO), gave a welcome address at the formal opening on Wednesday.

He stressed the importance of prioritising a "user-oriented approach" as well as cooperation between users and the public and private sectors.

Acknowledging the “constantly evolving” services of the SPTO, Gil Celedonio also stated that IP offices and the services they provide will change beyond recognition in the coming decade.

“We can all agree that in 10 years, everything will be very different for us in our IP offices and for you as users of our systems,” he said.

Referring to the theme of this year’s conference—how sustainability and technology will shape the future of brands—he said that this topic should be embraced.

“Our combined public and private corporations should be at the very core of these future debates on how IP rights can help the achievement of, for example, the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.

Acknowledging the contribution of trademark and brand owners to the economic growth and competitiveness of Europe, he insisted that “IP rights cannot be an issue that we underestimate”.

“Of course, we are facing times of turbulence, which [has] an impact on the trademark field,” he said, adding that in Spain and Europe, “the drop in terms of trademark applications is a reality”.

“For the first time [in] more than 10 years, unless something extraordinary happens in the last month of 2022, the number of European trademark applications will be not higher than in the previous year,” he added.

While taking into account the fact that inflation and other events across the world are affecting the situation, he was adamant that European countries must remain resilient.

“It is our duty to remain proactive in these contexts, now even more than ever. We must talk and we must highlight that our single market is robust.

“Trademarks are the best vehicle for goods and services in this market, and basic to our competitiveness in Europe [as well as] the rest of the world. And [trademarks are] key to the protection of the goodwill and the reputation of those very same products and services.”

Also speaking at the welcome address was José Luis Martínez-Almeida Navasqüés, Mayor of Madrid and a Spanish state lawyer. The session was moderated by Joachim Hofman, chair of the MARQUES Council.

Panel topics at the event will include artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain; digital dispute resolution; how to integrate and prioritise sustainability; responding to external disruption; virtual/augmented reality and deep fakes; branding innovative products; and enforcement in the metaverse.

In addition, there will be panels on Court of Justice of the European Union and General Court case law, judicial approaches to parasitic competition, and international design protection strategies.

A hybrid event was held last year in The Hague, where total physical attendees were limited to approximately 100.

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