As Paul Kossof, author of Chinese Trademark Law: The New Chinese Trademark Law of 2014 recently outlined in a series of exclusive articles in Asia Law Portal: “On May 1, 2014, China’s new trademark law will come into effect. This law will usher in substantial changes to how brand owners protect their products and reputations in Mainland China.”
Shortly after China’s new trademark law takes effect, 8,500 attendees from over 140 countries from around the world will gather in Hong Kong for the International Trademark Association’s (INTA) annual conference May 10 – 14. As the INTA conference website outlines: “The International Trademark Association (INTA) is a global association of trademark owners and professionals dedicated to supporting trademarks and related intellectual property in order to protect consumers and to promote fair and effective commerce.
The [INTA Hong Kong] program will feature a special Focus on Asia track – eight sessions focused on hot topics and substantive case law updates in Asia, preparing [delegates] to do business in the region and beyond.”
I recently spoke with Toe Su Aung, the 2013 President of the Association and Chair of its Board of Directors, about the status of Trademarks in Asia. Aung is General Counsel, Anti-Illicit Trade at BATMark Limited, a subsidiary of British American Tobacco, based in London, where she was previously Head of Intellectual Property.
Here is a transcript of that interview:
Grimley: What are the most important trademark issues/developments in the Asia market in 2014?
Aung: “INTA is composed of more than 6,400 member organizations. It’s a mixture of law firms and brand owners. Our key objective is to represent the interests of brand owners and consumers. One particularly widespread issue that effects both brand owners and consumers is counterfeiting. Asia is major source of counterfeit goods globally. The problem has been greatly proliferated by the Internet too as it provides counterfeiters with easy access to consumers who, when making an online purchase, aren’t able to thoroughly inspect an item before making a purchase.
Grimley: Why is Asia of particular importance to INTA?
Aung: “Asia is a huge, vastly expanding market, where consumers are very sophisticated. INTA members both based in Asia and abroad are either already heavily invested in the region (often through their supply chain) or simply eager to access these booming consumer markets. So it’s important to be present and active in Asia.”
Grimley: How much of an increase has INTA seen in Asia trademark issues over the past few years among lawyers and companies?
Aung: Consider the ASEAN Economic Community, which is due to launch in 2015. A single market presents a number of threats and opportunities. Goods flow more freely in a single market. While this is good for business it necessitates strong laws to govern the flow of counterfeit goods in transit into, and within, the single market. Therefore, ASEAN members are being encouraged to ratify the Madrid Protocol and the Hague Convention on design. We believe that with more ratifications, we’ll see better protection of brand rights.”
Grimley: What does the future hold for trademark issues in Asia?
Aung: “The future looks bright for Asia. China, Asia’s largest market, has completed its third revision of the China Trademark Law, which is due to go into effect on May 1, 2014. These revisions serve both trademark owners and consumers well. INTA is pleased to be able to provide comments on these revisions and work with the Chinese government throughout the process. Myanmar, which is now emerging as a new consumer market, is also a major development. The Myanmar government is in the process of drafting its first ever trademark law. Again, INTA is working with the Myanmar government in the process. These are fantastic examples of progress being made in Asia.
For more information or to register to attend the INTA 2014 annual conference, please see the conference website here. Toe Su Ang’s biography is located here. The 2014 INTA conference may also be followed on Twitter using hashtag: #INTA2014. A Website dedicated to Chinese Trademark Law: The New Chinese Trademark Law of 2014 by Paul Kossof, is located here.