ITMA Spring Conference and Gala Dinner 2016


Spring Conference 2016 report

16-18 March 2016
One Whitehall Place, London, SW1A 2EJ

"Heritage has a power that transcends culture and time. Heritage sells.” The 2016 ITMA Spring Conference opened with this strong message from Tugba Unkan (FRAME Denim), who firmly set the scene for a programme of speakers strongly organised around the theme of history and heritage.

Taking the podium after the keynote, Allan James walked us through the UK IPO’s own history in numbers, and told us how, back in the day, the mood was one of paternalism, when “user was King”, which contrasts with today’s “first to file”’ system, which is the result of a liberalisation of registration requirements introduced with the Trade Marks Act 1994.

We were brought back to the modern day by DI Mick Dodge of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), who reminded us of the darker side of IP and the new challenges we face in our increasingly digital world. IPO funding for PIPCU is confi rmed until 2017, and Dodge encouraged brand owners to consider PIPCU in their anti-counterfeiting arsenal; resource will be prioritised, he said, “where threat, risk and harm are greatest”.

Next, Robert Buchan and Gill Grassie of Brodies LLP took us to the Outer Hebrides – because how could we talk heritage without a mention of the oldest certifi cation mark of them all, Harris Tweed? Following on was Alan Park (Scotch Whisky Association), who explained that we should be prepared to advise clients in respect of the growing area of Geographical Indications (GIs), and entertained delegates with a range of infringement case studies.

Rounding off the fi rst day were: Nick Phillips (Edwin Coe LLP), who gave us a date for the diary – 31 December 2039 – when works previously unpublished will be falling out of copyright; Carrie Bradley (Stobbs IP), who gave a refreshing and practical presentation on the legal implications of resurrecting (seemingly) abandoned brands; and, last but by no means least, a run-through of the new European Regulation by Charlotte Scott of Hogarth Chambers (pronunciation of EUIPO yet to be decided!).

Day two saw David Stone (Simmons & Simmons) give his top 10 tips in a brilliant designs talk, with some discussion of that case (yes, Trunki). Richard Peck (The Royal Warrant Holders Association) answered “Why a Royal Warrant?” with “Well, if it’s good enough for The Queen, it’s probably good enough for you and me”. He was followed by Clive Cheesman and Christopher Fletcher-Vane on the subject of Coats of Arms. Ending the conference on a high, Irene Bocchetta (Defra) talked us through GIs and customers’ desire to know food provenance, and Sarah McPoland (Nestlé) gave us a detailed, in-house perspective on IP challenges, strategies and what happens when confectionery and shisha collide. By the time we reached the closing remarks, we’d all taken on an informative, engaging, history tour.

Report provided by Katie Goulding, a Trade Mark Attorney at HGF Limited and first published in ITMA Review, May 2016.

ITMA Gala Dinner 2016 report

By common consent, the location for the Gala Dinner could hardly have been bettered.

Upon arrival at the Tower of London, arguably London’s most iconic landmark, guests were led directly into the Jewel House, where there was time for a leisurely inspection of the treasures on show – crowns, orbs, sceptres, jewelled swords and much more, all available to us without the pressure of big crowds. Most touching for me was the tiny coronet, sparkling with diamonds, that Queen Victoria wore after the death of Prince Albert.

Next, Beefeaters directed us along cobbled streets to the Old Armoury in the White Tower, where drinks were served. The building was gloriously floodlit. After an inspection of the armour held there (both human and equine), it was downstairs to the New Armoury, where dinner featured a main course of roast cannon of Kentish lamb. Prior to the meal, Chris McLeod gave what was probably his penultimate speech as President.He was in his usual urbane form.

He then drew the winning ticket for the evening’s raffle in favour of Simon Gray, President of the Irish Association of Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys, who had himself entertained ITMA members in Dublin at the joint meeting last November. The prize was a Garmin smart watch, donated by Corsearch.

A stentorian announcement regarding security from a Beefeater – who must surely also have been an old-fashioned company sergeantmajor, so loud was his voice – preceded “carriages at 10.30”, while outside the Ceremony of the Keys was taking place, as it has each night, just before 10pm, for the past 700 years. A final glimpse of the incredible floodlit buildings of the City brought a very memorable evening to a close.

Report provided by Keith Havelock, a member of the ITMA Council

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