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IP-Watch interns talk about their Geneva experience in summer 2013. 2:42.

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9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

Ten Questions About Internet Governance

On April 23 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the “Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance,” also known as “NETmundial” in an allusion to the global football event that will occur later in that country, will be convened. Juan Alfonso Fernández González of the Cuban Communications Ministry and a veteran of the UN internet governance meetings, raises 10 questions that need to be answered at NETmundial.


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    INTA: Corporate Call To Action On New Domains, Social Media, Counterfeiting

    Published on 8 May 2012 @ 1:03 pm

    By for Intellectual Property Watch

    Washington, DC – Corporations need to become more involved in the battles being fought over the internet – from expanding top-level domain names, protecting brands on social media, to counterfeiting and internet security – or they are going to be left on the sidelines as policy is created both in the United States and elsewhere, speakers at the International Trademark Association (INTA) said yesterday.

    There is an “increased hostility to IP,” said Gregg Marrazzo, INTA president and senior vice president and deputy general counsel at the The Estée Lauder Companies, said during INTA’s 134th Annual Meeting. “We see more discussions of IP on social media, more stories in the news and, unfortunately, more protests in the street, especially at the intersection of IP rights and the internet.”

    Murrazzo said much of the perceived “anti-IP” sentiment around the world is the result of misconceptions, particularly as they related to the user experience on the internet. He cited the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) as an example of good policy at risk of being rejected in the European Union, mainly over concerns that it will restrict the public’s use of the internet.

    “This fear is unfounded,” he said. The EU vote on ACTA, scheduled for July, he added, has become a “more difficult vote as a result of widely disseminated misconceptions.”

    Related story here.

    Many trademark owners and governments are also concerned about the lack of adequate trademark protection, internet security and other negative effects they believe will result from actions by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which on 12 January opened a first window for applications for new generic top level domains (gTLDs), expected to be made public soon.

    “Right now, the battle is on gTLDs, but there are battles in the coming years over control of the internet. We need companies involved,” added INTA Executive Director Alan Drewsen.

    “The possibility of seeing dot-anything on the web” raises many issues for companies and trademark holders, Murrazzo added. “Cybersquatters, counterfeiters and pirates will take maximum advantage of the new gTLD programs. This is unacceptable to legitimate trademark owners.”

    Leonard Lauder, son of The Estée Lauder Companies founders Estée and Joseph Lauder and chairman emeritus of the company, cited the many challenges facing brands and companies in the international marketplace, such as trademark and trade dress issues, a brand or product name meaning different things in different countries – possibly with a negative connotation – and the increasing use of symbols in place of brand names to cross language barriers.

    “You have to be alert – you have to have peripheral vision when dealing with this international world,” Lauder said. “Each brand has its own DNA and its own distribution strategy.”

    Trademarks and Trolling

    When it comes to protecting trademarks and brands on the Internet – particularly on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter – there’s only so much trademark owners can do, a number of legal experts said.

    “Social media also presents us with tremendous opportunities – it gives us additional platforms to promote our brands,” Marrazzo said. “Social media permits us to educate the public in ways that were just not available to us in the past,” he continued, expanding brands’ reach to countries and people throughout the world, of varying ages and backgrounds.

    But social media also poses a whole new frontier for trademark owners to patrol. But freedom of expression and other civil liberties issues pose a problem.

    “When we are in this space, we are going to have to pick our battles. We can’t fight everything” or play “whack-a-mole,” said Ellen Shankman of Ellen Shankman & Associates.

    An increasing problem in regards to trolling is what’s called “non-traditional trolling,” when entities use trademark law to gain exclusive rights over words, phrases, concepts – even cultural movements like Occupy Wall Street – that should not be able to be owned. “We’re talking about owning the unownable,” said Adam Cohen of Kane Kessler, PC, in the United States.

    It’s the responsibility of trademark community to strike balance between over-aggressive enforcement and legitimate trademark protection, he added.

    Going after things like so-called “gripe sites” – which use well-recognizable names in negative ways in URLS (e.g., www.homedepotsucks.com), is likely not worth the time, money, or effort, Cohen added. Plus, the US Department of Commerce last year released a “trademark bullies” report [pdf] studying whether trademark owners are using their trademark rights in an overly aggressive enforcement effort, and the effect of abusive trademark litigation tactics on small businesses.

    “I think most brands have probably come to the conclusion there’s not a lot you can do from a trademark perspective,” Cohen said. “It is a fact of life” and going after such hijackers too aggressively is more likely to be viewed as an attempt to control public discourse about their brands in the courts. “That has not been well-received, judicially,” Cohen added. “You need to really keep in mind how far to take your trademark rights.”

    Another trend in trademarks being seen across the world is an increase in registrations – and attempts at registrations – of non-conventional trademarks such as three-dimensional designs. These designs can include colours, holograms, scents, tastes – even certain building designs.

    But even well-recognised global brands like Coca-Cola are having a hard time convincing patent offices to register three-dimensional image of a product as a trademark. The problem, in most cases, is distinctiveness, said Loke-Khoon Tan, partner at Baker & McKenzie in Hong Kong.

    WIPO Indigenous Process: ‘The Pace of a Snail’

    Officials from Canada, Zimbabwe, Australia and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), stressed the increased need for protection of indigenous rights to traditional knowledge, folklore and traditional cultural expressions.

    “I think that very clearly a recognition, not just internationally, but regionally” that “these rights need to be addressed and some protection mechanisms and formula need to be” put into place, said Marcus Hopperger of the brands and designs section of WIPO.

    The WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC), established years ago, aims to convene a high-level treaty negotiation, possibly next year, on this issue. The 22nd session of the group will be held 9-13 July to discuss possibly legal instrument(s) on these issues.

    Related story here.

    “The more people who are involved, the slower the mechanism gets” to find common ground, Hopperger said. “It might well take some time before the outcome of that process will lead to one or several international instruments.”

    The process has been criticised by some who say developed countries are dragging their feet, but Hopperger said it’s a priority of the committee to expedite the negotiations.

    “The accelerated pace is the pace of a snail,” said Marion Heathcote, partner at Davies Collision Cave in Australia, who pointed out that there are 300 million indigenous people and 700,000 indigenous cultures. “It’s not what is about what’s legally allowable – it’s not about being told what you can and cannot do. … it’s all about what’s morally and ethically correct.”

    Liza Porteus Viana may be reached at lizapviana@gmail.com.

     


    Leave a Reply

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
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