In an interview, Sanz de Acedo said his key priorities include “ambitiously but realistically” pursuing growth in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. The incoming CEO will take over from retiring Executive Director Alan Drewsen, who has led INTA for 15 years, on July 15. At present, Sanz de Acedo serves as Head of the Communications Service for OHIM.
Spanish-born Sanz de Acedo is uniquely placed to lead this expansion. He speaks four languages, is the child of a French mother and a Spanish father, and grew up speaking both his parents’ native tongues. He learned English at school and improved his proficiency during summer vacations to the UK. At OHIM, he developed a passion for the Italian language and gained fluency over the course of five summers in Italy.
Outside of his professional life, Sanz de Acedo enjoys spending time with his wife and son and described himself as a “fitness addict” who finds himself in the gym every day. He is also a soccer fan, passionately supporting his hometown team, Real Sociedad in Spain.
Facing global challenges
Sanz de Acedo was quick to acknowledge the challenges of his new role. Increasing trademark protection globally, including harmonizing IP laws, will not be helped by a sluggish recovery from the global economic crisis and ever-changing issues online.
“When we go somewhere new, we need first to respect the culture of the country,” he said. “Shaping the Association for the future means looking the markets and the trends. The world is global, the economy is global. We are in an information-sharing era.”
While it is too early to decide whether INTA should open any new offices around the world, he said the possibility is “something that we certainly need to discuss as soon as I join.” Another strategic option will be to organize more events in target markets.
Sanz de Acedo also recognized the need to widen the scope of INTA’s communication to the general public in response to recent Internet protests against IP legislation such as SOPA and PIPA, and the vote against ACTA in the European Parliament.
“We tend to talk broadly within our IP community, and then we need to reach public opinion outside of that and explain how brands are important to investment and to growth,” he said. “This will probably be by means of partnerships, by cooperating with associations that might not be IP-related.”
He also hopes to increase INTA’s membership within the IP world, particularly among corporate counsel and lawyers who take a more informal approach to participating in the Annual Meeting. While over 9,000 members registered for educational events this year, Sanz de Acedo acknowledged that some travelled to Dallas solely for the networking opportunities.
“I think that we need to find ways to help people understand that actually participating in the Annual Meeting is contributing to the efforts INTA is making on their behalf,” he said. “It’s a question of solidarity."
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