Strong Asian presence highlights INTA Singapore

International Trademark Association (INTA) 2023 Annual Meeting, May 16-20 at Singapore’s Sands Expo & Convention Centre
International Trademark Association (INTA) 2023 Annual Meeting, May 16-20 at Singapore’s Sands Expo & Convention Centre

The International Trademark Association (INTA) held the in-person segment of its 2023 annual meeting from 16 to 20 May at Singapore’s Sands Expo & Convention Centre. It was the second time that Asia has hosted INTA’s annual meeting, following from Hong Kong in 2014. The event attracted more than 8,000 brand owners, government officials, IP practitioners, legal counsel and other registrants from 140 countries and regions to the lion city.

Singapore’s opportunity was a long time coming. The city was selected in 2018 to host the 2020 annual meeting, until that was derailed by the covid-19 pandemic. INTA was forced to switch to a “virtual only” format for 2020 and 2021.

A total of 151 exhibitors set up booths during Singapore’s week-long event, including law firms, patent agencies, IP authorities, tech innovators and legal media, including your very own Law.Asia. Based on the INTA website, 75 exhibitors hailed from Asia, taking full advantage of the rare opportunity.

Notably, 39 exhibitors came from mainland China alone, taking up a sizable portion of the venue’s “innovation marketplace” at the central meeting area. According to INTA statistics to April 2023, China ranked second in the number of registrants at 748, behind only the US at 1,009 and ahead of India’s 387.

Jomarie Fredericks, INTA President
Jomarie Fredericks
International Trademark Association

INTA President Jomarie Fredericks called this year’s congregation a great success. “[Singapore] is an IP-rich region of the world and the investment in and outpouring of innovation has exploded in recent years,” she said.

Fredericks listed the most prominent opportunities in Asia as the high internet penetration of emerging brands and domestic markets, the growing middle class and the reopening of China.

Among many highlights, a theatre area in the middle of the marketplace hosted several panels covering some of the top trending topics in the IP realm such as AI-generated content, the metaverse, best practice for SMEs, and the boundaries of creative uses.

Besides a full crowd, the panels drew IP heavyweights as moderators and speakers including: World Intellectual Property Organisation director general Daren Tang; Rena Lee, CEO of Singapore’s IP office; Rowel Barba, director general of the Philippines’ IP office; and Wu Dongping, secretary-general of the China Trademark Association.

This format of interaction is novel to INTA annual meetings. Zaheera Hashim, INTA co-chair, as well as director and assistant general counsel at Proctor & Gamble in Singapore, said he hoped that it would continue for future events.

In her interview with Law.Asia, Hashim said she liked how people seemed a bit more relaxed at this year’s annual meeting, and how meaningful personal meetings were prioritised over the sheer number of receptions.

During the opening ceremonies, INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo announced the 2024 annual meeting would be held in Atlanta in the US. In 2026, the annual meeting will be held in the Middle East for the first time, hosted by Dubai. INTA hosts the annual meeting outside the US every third year.

“We don’t usually announce [the conference host city] more than a year in advance but we are so excited about Dubai,” said Fredericks.

The in-person segment of INTA’s 2023 annual meeting will be followed by a “virtual only” component from 27 to 29 June.