Wind from Netherlands Interview with INTA 2016 President Mr. Ronald van Tuijl

By Emily Tan, China IP,[Comprehensive Reports]

  The International Trademark Association (INTA) 138th Annual Meeting was successfully concluded in Orlando, Florida in May 2016. The meeting attracted 10,114 trademark practitioners from 149 countries, a new record for INTA.
  The event was held in the Orange County Convention Center on May 22. At the opening ceremony INTA President and Intellectual Property Trade Marks Director at JT International, Ronald van Tuijl and INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo officially opened the meeting and shared the Association’s latest developments, working directions and challenges. Mr. van Tuijl gave an inspiring speech on the role of personal branding in the global trademark community.Ms. Diane Nelson, President and Chief Content Officer of Warner Bros delivered the keynote speech.
  Before Mr. van Tuijl came on stage, a very interesting video was played. Several US school students read his name, however their pronunciation varies greatly. At the end of the video, Mr. van Tuijl came out with a smile, apologized for the challenging pronunciation of his name before delivering his speech, and impressing the audience with his humor.
  Mr. van Tuijl worked for several major Dutch companies before he joined JT International, including KPN, Unilever and Philips Intellectual Property & Standards, a subsidiary of Royal Philips.China IP sat down with Mr. van Tuijl in Orlando, to discuss his mission & vision in his presidential term.
  China IP: How did you get into the IP industry and please also talk about your working experience so far?
  RvT: In my final year of law study, I chose copyrights as one of my subjects and wrote thesis on the topic. That got me interested in intellectual property (IP). After graduation, I worked as an in-house practitioner in KPN Telecom, focusing on trademarks, designs and copyrights. The company was the largest trademark owner in the Benelux. Five years’ work in KPN trained me into a Benelux trademark and design attorney.I learned a lot! Then I moved to Unilever to serve as IP counsel.My work covered a wide range of portfolios including food and beverages, with different brand strategies for different portfolios. After eight years in Unilever, I wanted to broaden my horizons and decided to join Philips, which also has a very large IP portfolio.
  In 2012 I moved to Switzerland and joined JT International.Since I has always worked for Dutch companies, it was time to make a change. There are four managers and five assistants in my team now, we handle the company’s trademark issues globally. I do management work but also handle litigation issues. The company has over 36,000 trademarks worldwide but we manage them in a centralized approach. Due to the restrictions of the tobacco industry, we have a small amount of domain names.
  China IP: Could you briefly introduce your work at INTA and how do you become the Pr esident?
  RvT: Like most of the people who get to know INTA, you either participate in the Annual Meeting or join a committee. I joined a committee, organized and spoke at several INTA events.Thereafter I was nominated as a board member and, after three years, I was nominated as an officer. I was reelected as an officer for several years and eventually become the president. Compared with other colleagues who work for INTA for several years, my road of becoming the president is comparatively short, but it still took me around 7 years.
  China IP : We heard someone once complained that INTA, though as an international association, doesn’t work well on the international level. However, we can see that INTA has made great efforts on internationalization. Could you please share your thoughts on this? How about the recent achievements and future plans?
  RvT: First of all, thank you for acknowledging and seeing INTA’s efforts on internationalization. Yes, I also have heard some people say INTA is very American. But if you look at all the work INTA have done, it is not. The membership continues to grow on the international level, we are attracting more members around the world. The international expansion is one the directions of the Strategic Plan. We are also sending delegations to different parts of the world. Last year we sent delegations to China to attend the China International Trademark Festival held in Haikou. Meanwhile we also recently sent delegations to Argentina, Brazil, India, and Singapore, among other countries.This year in March, we opened a new office in Singapore, which reflects the Association’s increased engagement in the Asia-Pacific region.
  In the past year, INTA held a variety of events in different countries and regions, dedicated to building itself into a real international organization. Last year’s Leadership Meeting was held in Panama City, the first time it has been taken place outside of the US. INTA has also held well-attended meetings in Singapore and Rome in the past year, as well as in New York. Later this year, it will hold its first event in Africa.
  As I’ve mentioned, we have visited a great number of governments and IP offices around the world. We expand cooperation on t rademarks with global and regional IP organizations. For example, our Designs Committee jointly held a designs conference in Singapore with AIPPI.
  In addition, INTA’s Annual Meeting will be held outside of US every three years. Next year’s Annual Meeting will be held in Barcelona, Spain, and 2020’s Annual Meeting will be held in Asia.
  China IP: Are there any changes to the number of Chinese members? How about the policies that address to attract more Chinese members?
  RvT: Last year, there were 231 total Chinese member organizations. 19 of those were corporate members. 172 were associate members. That translated into 1,497 individuals.Now we have 310 Chinese member organizations, 29 corporate members, 279 associate members, which represents 1737 individuals. The number increased quite a lot.
  One of the aspects we focus on is supporting Chinese brand owners and trademark owners in protecting and enforcing their trademark rights outside of China. Chinese brands are also being counterfeited outside of China. With the global reach that we have, we are well placed to provide help to Chinese companies on both policy and practice aspects.
  China IP: What is the key aim for your year in INTA?
  RvT: I’ve created the Presidential Task Force, which is focusing on in-house IP professionals. I’ve seen all kinds of changes to inhouse teams as to how work is arranged, who they report to, the size of the team, outsource business etc. I was always wondering what resulted in the differences. Is it caused by economic crisis or whether it is the trend? Are there any opportunities for in-house to further their career? The Presidential Task Force is hopefully going to provide recommendations to in-house practitioners, to help them participate and active in INTA. INTA also tries to attract more members since we need to hear more voices.
  China IP: How is the INTA 2014- 2017 Strategic Plan going? What progress has been made during your term?
  RvT: Everything we do directly links to the Strategic Plan. There are four strategic directions namely Protection of Trademarks, Communications, International Expansion, and Member Satisfaction. The Protection of Trademarks is at the core of everything we do. We send delegations to different countries and pass resolutions on trademark protection. We formalize and strengthen relationships with government and many IP offices, and signed cooperation agreements with IP related organizations around the world.
  On Communication, there is one thing worth to mention that we have a new committee called Public and Media Relations Committee. They will engage with the media and educate the non-IP audience including general public, employees, and government officials about the importance of trademark and brands in their daily lives, in the market place and in the global economy. We’ve talked about International Expansion already.
  Regarding Member Satisfaction, the President Task Force has conducted a membership satisfaction survey. It has received a very positive response and we are currently in the process of analyzing the results. Hopefully everything will come together before the deadline so that the Strategic Plan can witness a successful implementation.
  China IP: You mentioned several times in your speech that there will be a lot of challenges ahead on plain packing. Could you elaborate more on this aspect?
  RvT: INTA approaches plain packing is a trademark and brand issue with the potential to impact a number of industries.INTA passed a Board resolution last year on plain and highly standardized packing. The resolution urges governments to reject the legislation that prohibit or significantly restricts the use of trademarks for lawful products and services.Various governments have or are considering plain and highly standardized packaging measures for tobacco products, and are also expanding or considering expanding these measures to numerous categories of products, such as alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, food (e.g. snack and fast foods) and pharmaceuticals. The Board represents a multitude of companies in different industries and so it is significant that they passed that resolution.
  China IP: On October 19, 2015, INTA updated the membership dues structure. What’s the aim of this new structure? What influence will it bring to the members?
  RvT: The structure was the result of an 18-month review and has been approved by INTA’s Board of Directors. This review included feedback from a Dues Advisory Group comprised of members from all member categories, as well as staff research on best practices. The team researched dues pricing at both IPand non-IP-related associations to arrive at the most appropriate dues structure for INTA.
  The team was guided by member needs in proposing to the Board how the new dues pricing should be organized.Over the years, members with multiple locations expressed their preference to have a more inclusive dues option that would include all of their offices. In addition, the work environment has evolved and more organizations are moving toward telecommuting and work from home policies. The new dues structure allows for more flexible dues pricing and more accurately reflects how members are adapting to the changing workplace.
  To address this changing landscape, a new dues option is offered for Regular and Small-Medium Sized Enterprise ( SME ) members so that those with more than one location can now register all of their locations for a single fee. When this option is chosen, all employees, regardless of their location, can benefit from INTA membership. This is also advantageous for INTA with regard to its global reach and advocacy efforts.

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