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INTA 2022: IP pros must use tech for brands to triumph

Speakers at the INTA Annual Meeting in Washington DC talked about using tech to better protect IP, manage applications and create contracts

Intellectual property professionals needed to embrace tech if they wanted brands to triumph in an increasingly tumultuous world, speakers told onlookers at the INTA Annual Meeting in Washington DC today, May 4.

Counsel from Faegre Drinker, IPSTYLE, WP Thompson and Devialet said technology could be of particular help when it came to protecting trademarks, managing applications at various IP offices, or creating contracts.

Kimiya Shams, legal and business affairs manager at Devialet in New York, kicked off the session called ‘Technology in Society and the Future of IP Assets’ by saying businesses should invest in RFID tags to help prevent counterfeiting.

These tags, she said, could be scanned to identify legitimate goods, helping customs to spot fakes, and could be used to track products at various stages of the supply chain. The tags were also cheap, she noted, costing as little as a few cents and as much as $1.05.

If the shoe fits

Shams added that it was particularly important to take advantage of tech in the shoe industry, pointing out that footwear was the most counterfeited kind of good.

“Sneakerheads in the room will know that some people queue for hours to get the latest pair of new Nike or other branded shoes,” she said.

She pointed out that the market dynamics of footwear manufacturing appealed to counterfeiters. It would cost a legitimate manufacturer between $11 and $24 to make a pair of shoes that could be retailed at $124, she said. It would cost just $8 to make a fake pair that could be sold at the same price.

That was a problem, Shams noted, because genuine manufacturers found it hard to distinguish between their goods and counterfeited products. She pointed out that in 2006, shoemaker Jordan ran ads and created merchandise unknowingly featuring fakes.

Shams added that a few businesses had developed solutions to the problem. Blockchain company Chronicled, for example, created 3D printed external tags that could be scanned to prove authenticity. Cypheme, an AI firm, created a program capable of detecting counterfeit products by analysing packaging with a neural network.

Smarter contracts

Next up was Julian Potter, partner at WP Thompson in the UK, who spoke about smart contracts.

“There are plenty of lawyers in this room who write smart contracts,” he said. “But what I’m talking about is contracts that are implemented in software and automated.”

He explained that smart contracts automatically triggered obligations when contract terms were satisfied, and that these virtual documents were stored in blockchain systems to prevent hackers from changing their terms.

“One example of a smart contract would be a contract that sent a digital key to a prospective tenant once said tenant had submitted a payment to the landlord’s bank,” he said.

He added that there were obvious IP use cases for smart contracts, such as contracts used to license design patents to manufacturers. These agreements could be linked to machinery to monitor production and facilitate payments for units manufactured in real time.

Smarter offices

Mariya Ortynska, managing partner at IPSTYLE in Ukraine, then took the stage. She said IP offices and their users would benefit hugely from using blockchain.

She pointed out that the EUIPO had launched its IP Register on blockchain, which improved speeds while maintaining high-quality data transfers.

The office was also connected to TMView and DesignView, its search platforms, through blockchain to enable it to deliver trademark and design data in real time, she noted.

The INTA Annual Meeting is being held this week at the Walter E Washington Convention Center in Washington DC.

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