Tuesday at INTA 2024: Women leaders urge allies to call out ‘predatory’ behaviour
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Tuesday at INTA 2024: Women leaders urge allies to call out ‘predatory’ behaviour

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L-R: Linda Wang, Isabella Cardozo, Lisa Jakob, Adraea Brown, Lara Kayode and Ayala Deutsch

Managing IP reveals Tuesday’s highlights, including an illuminating discussion celebrating women in the workplace and the challenges that remain

A frank discussion on the challenges faced by women in the workplace as well as the progress they have made was among the highlights on day four of the INTA Annual Meeting on Tuesday, May 21.

During the session, a mix of senior in-house and private practice women lawyers shared tips for how all parties – men, women, and businesses – can continue to encourage the advancement of women in both the corporate and law firm environments.

However, it is clear there is still work to do on this front, as was demonstrated when panellists spoke about examples of sexism or discrimination they have faced.

Call it out

Lisa Jakob, managing counsel in the trademark group at Merck in the US, shared a shocking story about when she was returning home from a legal event when she was a junior lawyer.

Jakob said a well-known senior partner at a law firm offered to pay for a taxi back to their hotels after the event.

When the taxi arrived at his hotel, Jakob said the partner grabbed her by the wrist and asked her: “Are you not coming up?”. When she declined, the partner replied: “I thought you wanted a job.”

The story was met with gasps from the audience.

Jakob explained how years later, when she was working in-house, the same partner’s name kept coming up as someone who could make a good external counsel.

Eventually, Jakob put her foot down and said the company should not be using that particular lawyer as he was a “predator”. She added that we all have a duty to call out such behaviour.

Another panellist, Isabella Cardozo, partner at Daniel Law in Brazil, said shocking situations such as that still happen today, including at conferences.

“Women leaders must use their allies to call out this kind of behaviour. If you see something, you must say something,” she said.

The discussion also included tips on how women in the workplace can advance themselves as well as strategies for how companies and law firms can better promote their female staff.

Adraea Brown, assistant general counsel for trademarks at Harley-Davidson in the US, said that if organisations truly want to implement change then they must first publicly acknowledge it.

Linda Wang, partner at Zico IP in Malaysia, said she may not always be the only woman in a meeting nowadays but that there are still little observations she notices.

For example, she noted that the person asked to bring the tea or coffee is often a woman, adding “why is this the case?”

Be bold

Cardozo, offering tips on how to succeed in the workplace, added that conferences provide a good opportunity to build connections and friendships, but that people should not be afraid to be bold.

“It’s great making friends but we are also here to work. Don’t be afraid to build on that connection by saying ‘I want to work for you’.”

Jakob at Merck added that traditional examples of “what success looks like” are often characteristically male traits – tough, fearless, hard-working.

She added that the more typical female traits, including empathy, can also make for better outcomes in negotiations and business building.

IP and recession

Meanwhile, in another session speakers from the US, Hong Kong, and Australia reflected on how recessions affect IP.

This was inspired by an INTA report that examined this issue. The speakers shared insights from the report during the talk.

They noted that there were many ways that a recession could result in less investment in IP and therefore more challenges for law firms hoping to stay busy.

Donna Short, partner at Addisons in Sydney, noted that businesses often have to cut costs on core brands during recessions and were less likely to oppose third-party marks.

She added that recessions could also affect jobs at firms.

"If an IP practitioner leaves, they may not necessarily be replaced," she said.

Recessions also tend to correlate with a decline in M&A activity.

"But companies that do make acquisitions will get IP assets at a lower cost," she noted. "They're going to reap the benefits in the long term."

There were some things that firms can do, however, to mitigate the ramifications of recessions on themselves and their clients, said speakers.

Fixed fees

Short said firms could offer more fixed fees.

"You need to be far more strategic during a recession," she said.

She added that firms could also advise clients to focus their IP filings only on the countries that are most important to them.

Law firms could also push some work down to paralegals to save on staffing costs, said Short.

Barry Cohen, partner at Royer Cooper Cohen Braunfeld in Pennsylvania, said recessions could be an opportunity for law firms in smaller cities to seek work that might ordinarily go to larger firms – since they likely could do the work at a lower cost.

But he added that larger firms could find ways to be more efficient too.

Firms could look at litigation funding to help their clients continue to enforce their IP rights while reducing legal spend, he noted.

And recessions could also increase certain types of work for firms.

Alban Kwan, regional East Asia director at CSC Digital Brand Services in Hong Kong, said online infringement is expected to go up during recessions.

Helping clients fight this could be a source of income for firms, he noted.

Question of the day

An informative panel-filled morning left time in the afternoon for meetings and networking with IP attorneys.

Today, we asked sources how important events such as INTA are for business development.

Joel Feldman, co-chair of the trademark and brand management group at Greenberg Traurig, said there was a lot more to the conference than just business development.

“I think that what makes the INTA annual meeting special is the content probably more than just the ability to meet people,” he said.

He added that making connections was a great additional benefit of the conference.

“But there’s lots of conferences where you can meet people. What makes this one special is that the scholarship is second to none.”

He added that some people make the mistake of using INTA as a substitute for visiting people.

"INTA can be a great time to reconnect and briefly meet people, but I don’t think it should end there," he said.

Reception roundup

After a busy day of panels and meetings, attendees are once again out and about tonight at receptions. Managing IP will be attending several events.

Kirkland & Ellis is hosting an evening event at the Georgia Aquarium this evening while Finnegan is also having a reception at event space Ventanas, close to the exhibition center. Argentinian firm Marval O’Farrell Mairal is hosting an event at the High Museum of Art.

The INTA Annual Meeting runs from May 18 to 23 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

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