The 2020 International Trademark Association (INTA) Annual Meeting and Leadership Meeting has gone fully virtual with 3,339 registrants from 115 countries participating. The pandemic has pushed the event from the initial plan for Singapore in April to its first Artificial Intelligence (AI) assisted virtual platform in November.
Ayala Deutsch, the INTA’s 2020 President, who is currently executive vice president and deputy general counsel at NBA Properties, has steered the association through unprecedented change. Her effort turned fruitful with leaders, policymakers, in-house counsel and top gun practitioners from all over the world came together for two weeks of event.
“We had 340 government officials from 74 countries and 17% of all the registrants were in-house professionals from companies while the remainder were from law firms,” she told Asia Business Law Journal. “We had good attendance, both in terms of where people worked and where they were from in the world.”
Specifically, 44% of the registrants were from North America, 22% from Europe, 17.8% from the Asia-Pacific, 11.6% from Latin America and the rest from the Middle East and Africa. These registrants joined various kinds of session from social networking, hospitality buildings, business hubs, corporate meet-up, speed networking and table topics.
The multi networking was catered through INTA’s virtual quiver called INTAconnect, an AI-driven app that matches the user with other users based on their profile, interests and time zone preferences. A total of 11,451 meetings were held through this app during leadership meeting and annual meeting.
“Some of our meeting attendees said they tried a virtual speed networking and were very pleased with it. They would not have tried it in-person that they were more attracted to do it on the digital platform,” said Deutsch.
Although the successful outcome, digital interaction seems to have a long way to replace offline meetings. The previous INTA annual meeting attracted over 10,000 attendants, almost three times bigger than the virtual meeting. Deutsch said, the AI-driven platform is particularly familiar among young people hence easier to adapt but it takes time for some people to get more comfortable with the new technology.
“With all AI tool, the more you use it, the more it understands about what you are looking for and what you want and the better it gets,” she said.
The digital platform also made it possible to accommodate registrants from different time zones and schedules to connect 24/7 from anywhere anytime, something that out of the question in an offline event. Another upside was the flexibility to choose in connecting to people within particular interest, legal issue and market or jurisdiction.
“We found real energy in the chat functionality of the digital platform. Whereas when you’re sitting in a conference hall, you can’t really share your thoughts or your feedback or interrupt the speaker,” Deutsch said.
“The chat function really engaged a lot of the audience in questions and participation and good feedback. That was something I don’t think we fully anticipated, but it turned out to be one of those advantages of the virtual platform.”