Three letters on everyone’s lips
first hour of today’s academic programme was spent
discussing "the topic we cannot speak about" as Maximiliano
Santa Cruz of Chile’s INAPI put it. The panellists
either did not know, or could not reveal, details of the TPP
talks or the latest draft of the treaty. But, as AIPLA
President Sharon Israel of Mayer Brown said, it is a "high
priority" for the Obama Administration and "the end [of
negotiations] may be in sight".
The 12 participating countries include Canada, Chile, Mexico,
Peru and the United States and, as moderator Alfredo Montener
of Sargent & Krahn said, once signed the TPP will "have a
definite impact throughout the region".
The IP chapter is thought to be one of the longer, more
complex and more controversial ones, and is expected to cover
issues as diverse as the Madrid Protocol, regulatory data
protection, plant patents and cable broadcasting. Despite the
concerns that many people have, Miguel Angel Márgain of
Mexico’s IMPI predicted it would strengthen
signatory states, harmonise protection and boost investment.
"IP is not a hurdle," he said.
Lively and well-illustrated presentations from Doris Long of
the John Marshall Law School and Ray Meloni of
Peru’s INDECOPI highlighted the value and
questions that arise over traditional knowledge and cultural
expressions. Long provided some interesting examples from the
US and Canada, and called for greater harmonisation of
Meloni mentioned the important economic role that
handicrafts play in Peru, where SMEs account for 80% of GDP,
and 73% of "craftsmen" are in fact women. "IP adds value and
helps to improve the quality of life," he said, but added that
existing rights such as trade marks and collective marks are
too expensive and complicated for many people. Good news is
coming though: INDECOPI will now register trade marks within
two months if there is no opposition, and is planning to launch
an electronic gazette.
Trade mark tricks
A strong clearance system; enforcing and preserving rights;
consistency (see picture) and creating brand awareness: these
are the four steps to building a strong brand, according to
Sergio Barragán of Pepsico, one of three industry
speakers on a panel looking at successful trade marks today.
Trade mark counsel have a vital role to play in all four
aspects, he added.
Philippe Claude of Nestlé provided a complementary
perspective, explaining the revival and revitalisation of the
Skinny Cow brand in the United States, while Caito Maia of
Chilli Beans gave a presentation featuring Barbie, tattoos,
rock music, TV reality shows, naked models and Lenny Kravitz
(you needed to be there). If you don’t know the
company he founded, which primarily makes sunglasses, you soon
will: it is already the market leader in Brazil, with a 22%
market share, and plans to have 1,200 stores worldwide within a
Making your voice heard in court
Speaking yesterday, Arturo Jose Ancona of
Mexico’s Attorney General’s office
mentioned that Mexico is following other countries in the
region by moving to a more inquisitorial court system.
Anecdotal evidence from Mexican practitioners confirms that
oral hearings are becoming more common in IP litigation, which
has historically been more paper-based. We hope to bring more
news on how this trend is developing, at what it means for
parties in IP disputes, soon.
Back to the future
Last night’s reception, held at the Indianilla
Station, had an 1980s theme, though it must be said that some
attendees seemed to have a better memory of music and fashion
from that decade than others.
As you might expect, with free-flowing tequila and a large,
lively band, the networking and dancing went on well into the
night (4 am, according to some reports).
The event was hosted by a number of Mexican law firms, and
it was striking to see the logos of rival firms all displayed
alongside each other at the venue. After last
night’s truce, expect professional competition for
clients and cases to resume today.