OPENING CEREMONIES & KEYNOTE
A Work in Progress
In the first-ever virtual Opening Ceremonies for INTA’s Annual Meeting, the Association shared a message of hope, aspiration, and community. Sarah Morgan reports.
“For women to get a seat at the table, for our voices to be heard, we need to embrace our authentic selves in everything we do.”
Ayala Deutsch, INTA President
“This year, I learned to navigate the unknown more effectively. I had to,” said INTA President Ayala Deutsch in her opening address to INTA’s 2020 Annual Meeting & Leadership Meeting.
“With so much change and uncertainty over the past year—in work and in life—I’ve had to find ways to make decisions and move forward without knowing all the answers.”
Ms. Deutsch, who is also Executive Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of NBA Properties, Inc. (US), said that while this change in approach is not something she ever intended, “in one way or another, this year has compelled all of us to learn new things, to do things differently, to change.”
In what was a highly personal address, she centered her remarks around her father, who described himself throughout his life as a “work in progress,” and heartwarmingly made the connection to the intellectual property (IP) community today.
She relayed that her father came to the United States in 1940 from Belgium via Portugal, where his family fled just days before the Nazis arrived. He passed away 25 years ago, after battling cancer for almost three years. Even from his sickbed, Ms. Deutsch’s father reiterated that he was, still, a work in progress.
“When I asked him how that could be, given all he had accomplished, he cautioned me not to think of being a work in progress as something negative. Instead, he urged me to recognize it as a good thing—as always being open to learning, growing, and improving,” she said.
Earlier this year, Ms. Deutsch learned that, just five years after arriving in America, her father was the editor-in-chief of his high school magazine.
“Today I want to share with you three life lessons from my father’s articles, one of which is the idea of being a work in progress. And I would like to offer what I think we can take from these lessons as IP practitioners and as members of the global IP community,” said Ms. Deutsch.
“Seeing yourself as a work in progress is less about responding to changes around you, and more about actively seeking out and pursuing opportunities to grow and advance. At INTA, we refer to this as the progression—or evolution—of the IP practitioner into the brand professional.”
Second, Ms. Deutsch’s father told her to “bring your authentic self to everything you do.”
“What does ‘being our authentic selves’ mean for us in the global IP community? Let me answer that question as it relates to The Women’s LeadershIP Initiative,” she added.
INTA launched The Women’s LeadershIP Initiative last March to “foster strong leadership skills for women in the IP field and empower them to advance in their careers.”
The insights and perspectives gained from the project are informing comprehensive recommendations and best practices for INTA to help advance women’s representation in the workplace, advance women in their careers, and advance women’s work-life integration.
“Support from INTA can take us only so far. For women to get a seat at the table, for our voices to be heard, we need to embrace our authentic selves in everything we do. To do this we must create an environment that celebrates authenticity for all—for women and for men,” added Ms. Deutsch.
The third of her father’s articles speaks “directly to what we now refer to as diversity and inclusion (D&I),” said Ms. Deutsch, stating that it provided a two-step approach to overcoming inherent prejudices or pre-judgements.
She explained: “My father understood that to end prejudice requires you to look inside yourself to grapple with your own biases—even if they are unconscious—and to look to the world outside to recognize and remove social and institutional obstacles to the advancement of justice and equality.”
Ms. Deutsch declared that to overcome prejudice and embrace D&I, “we must expose ourselves to different cultures, different beliefs, and different ways of thinking and interacting with the world,” alongside accepting our authentic selves and seeing ourselves as works in progress.
“Change—real, meaningful change—starts with us. It starts within us. To wait for change is to be complacent. With so much upheaval in our lives this year and so much at stake for the future, the need for change has never been greater. To wait for change is irresponsible,” she concluded.
“The message that goes out must be that IP is relevant to all parts of the world.”
Daren Tang, WIPO
An Inclusive System
Ms. Deutsch’s heartfelt speech was followed by the introduction of Daren Tang, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
Beyond brands and trademarks, Mr. Tang said he was pleased with INTA’s active interest in the larger issues around innovation and technology, adding that asset creation across the world is shifting in emphasis from tangible assets to intangible ones.
Three years ago, intangible assets made up 85 percent of the total assets of the S&P 500, the index of the 500 largest public companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges. Now, they make up 90 percent, said Mr. Tang.
“The problem is that, if our economies are being centered around intangible assets, we still have not quite understood (at the policy and systemic level) how to identify these assets well, how to value them, or how to collateralize or finance the assets.
“We’re only beginning to understand how to commercialize these intangible assets and use them for business growth,” Mr. Tang added.
This gap represents an opportunity for WIPO to work with associations like INTA to raise awareness of the potential of IP across the world.
“If we don’t understand this area well, we won’t understand how our own future economies will work,” said Mr. Tang. “This needs to involve those in the IP community, and also people outside IP, such as policymakers, economists, and industry leaders, etc.”
He called for the IP industry to “broaden the conversation” beyond its legal and technical aspects to a broader economic perspective.
“This conversation cannot be with only a certain part of the world. I promised to build a balanced and inclusive international ecosystem. For too long, IP has been seen as something that supports only the very big companies, the biggest brands, and the most advanced economics. And that’s not true,” said Mr. Tang.
“The message that goes out must be that IP is relevant to all parts of the world. IP is relevant to entrepreneurs in Africa, to brand owners in Latin America, and to creators and musicians in every part of the world.”
“I define creativity as the ability to have an idea; innovation is the ability to get it done.”
Duncan Wardle, Formerly of The Walt Disney Company
WInnovation and Energy
In a lively, interactive, and fast-paced keynote, Duncan Wardle, Former VP of Innovation & Creativity at The Walt Disney Company (US), provided registrants with ideas and activities around innovation.
“You’ve probably been told you’re an IP lawyer, therefore you’re not creative. I don’t adhere to that at all. I define creativity as the ability to have an idea; innovation is the ability to get it done,” he said.
While many people claim that not having time to think is the biggest barrier to innovation, Mr. Wardle argued differently. He suggested that for most, the biggest barrier is our “own river of thinking”—our own expertise and experience.
“We are being asked to get out of our river of thinking more often and more quickly to make disruptive and different ideas, but most of us are very comfortable there,” said Mr. Wardle.
He cited the example of Walt Disney who, in 1940, wanted mist and heat pumped into a theater showing the film “Fantasia,” but was refused by the theater owner.
Mr. Wardle added: “Walt listed the rules of going to a movie theater. One of them was that he couldn’t control the environment, and this really frustrated Walt.
“He asked the ‘what if’ question: ‘What if I could control the environment?’ That’s not provocative enough. The more provocative and absurd your what if question, the further out of your river of thinking you go, the more likely you will land the big idea.”
Continuing to describe Mr. Disney’s creative process, he said: “After asking a series of questions: ‘What if I took my movies out of the theater?’ ‘What if people played the characters?’ ‘What if I put the people in costumes so they would be themed?’, eventually Mr. Disney arrived at a new idea.
“If he had people in costumes, the pirates couldn’t live next to the princesses. Wait a minute—what if he put them in different themed lands? He would call it ‘Disneyland’!”
Mr. Wardle advised registrants to bring in people he referred to as “naïve experts” to boost innovation.
“Their job is not to solve the challenge for you. Their job is to say something that will stop you thinking the way you always do,” he suggested.
In concluding, the former Disney executive turned to the importance of diversity.
“Diversity is innovation,” he said. “If somebody doesn’t look like you, they don’t think like you, and if they don’t think like you, they can help you think differently.”
“We’re here to celebrate the fact that we’ve been able to transform a huge challenge into an excellent set of opportunities for the future.”
Etienne Sanz de Acedo, INTA Chief Executive Officer
Never an Option
In his remarks at the Opening Ceremonies, Etienne Sanz de Acedo, INTA Chief Executive Officer, said that while it has been a difficult year, Ms. Deutsch has been an “incredible president,” and the Association has been “able to launch projects we’re extremely proud of.”
“We’re here to celebrate the fact that we’ve been able to transform a huge challenge into an excellent set of opportunities for the future,” said Mr. Sanz de Acedo.
He added: “We have an extremely bright future in front of us. What is more important is that we remain as a strong community, a family, and we continue doing so.”
Overall, approximately 3,340 registrants from more than 110 countries are participating in the Association’s first-ever virtual Meeting, including 340 government officials from around the world and almost 600 corporate members.
“Not celebrating an Annual Meeting had never been an option for INTA. The journey to get here has been, as you can imagine, an extremely complex one. But here we are, all together, and it’s probably time to celebrate,” said Mr. Sanz de Acedo.
“I was so looking forward to welcoming you all to Singapore to show you the sights and to taste our variety of food, but this year isn’t every year. 2020 has been a roller coaster ride.”
Jo-Ann See, Amica Law LLC
A First for INTA
This year INTA has put together its very first virtual and combined Annual Meeting & Leadership Meeting. Meeting Co-Chairs Elisabeth Bradley, Vice President & Assistant General Counsel, Innovation Law at Bristol Myers Squibb (US), and Jo-Ann See, Director at Amica Law LLC (Singapore), opened the Annual Meeting program.
“I was so looking forward to welcoming you all to Singapore to show you the sights and to taste our variety of food, but this year isn’t every year. 2020 has been a roller coaster ride.
“We are now far too familiar with words like pandemic, lockdown, COVID-19, quarantine, travel bans, and even elections,” said Ms. See.
Ms. Bradley continued: “We would like to flip the script and tell you what 2020 means to us. It means community, resilience, transformation, and thriving in adversity.
“Coming together at the Annual Meeting is a favorite event for us year after year. We are both thrilled that we can stand (or maybe sit) here today and say that the INTA community remains vibrant, connected and supportive of each other in these very unsettling and challenging times.”
“We would like to flip the script and tell you what 2020 means to us. It means community, resilience, transformation, and thriving in adversity.”
Elisabeth Bradley, Bristol Myers Squibb
Photo used under license from Shutterstock / Sorn340 Studio Images
Focused on Asia
Tomorrow, Wednesday, November 18, sees the launch of the Developing Issues in China educational track at INTA’s Annual Meeting, featuring sessions in Mandarin offered in the China Standard Time (CST) Zone (GMT+8 hours; EST+12 hours). Watch the video and see Seth Hayes, INTA Chief Representative, Asia-Pacific, describe the Association’s work in the region and give more details on the Annual Meeting programming.
Tuesday, November 17, 2020