For many reasons, your company’s intellectual property should be a top priority among your senior management and board. It should be a key consideration when major business strategies are being discussed and when decisions are being made, especially those related to your brands.
The role of the trademark “practitioner” has evolved beyond the “practical”– albeit crucial – aspects of the job, including trademark registration and enforcement. Today, trademark practitioners should be playing a proactive role in advising on all aspects of the protection and promotion of brands, as well as championing the value of IP as critical assets. This includes matters relating to advertising, corporate social responsibility (CSR), public policy, regulation, and social media, among others.
A number of marketplace trends are redefining the role of trademark counsel. Notably, the consumer-brand relationship has changed. Consumers are much more empowered in the digital age, they can be your brand’s loudest critic or proudest ambassador.
At the heart of the consumer-brand relationship is trust, with IP as its foundation. Trademarks specifically, enable quick, confident, and safe purchasing decisions. These decisions are based on trust. However, this trust now extends beyond the checkout counter.
Consumers now expect brands to take the lead in addressing the major social and environmental issues plaguing humanity and the planet. In the International Trademark Association’s (INTA) 2019 “Gen Z Insights: Brands and Counterfeit Products” study, 85% of respondents said that “brands should aim to do good in the world.” Other generations think the same.
In terms of CSR, trademark counsel should be guiding businesses as they create socially responsible brands and protecting the messaging built around these brands.
At the same time, intellectual capital, which includes trademarks and other IP, have emerged as the leading asset class. According to Ocean Tomo LLC, the S&P 500 market value of intangible assets grew from 17% in 1975 to 84% in 2015. Your trademark counsel is now likely protecting your company’s most valuable assets.
In short, the role of trademark practitioner has developed into one of an all-around brand professional – a true business partner with IP expertise who can draw connections between the myriad of issues facing brands in the global marketplace.
A key objective for INTA is to provide its members – over 35,000 brand professionals across 187 countries – with the resources they need to succeed in this transformative role. As the CEO, or senior management, it is up to you to provide trademark counsel with a seat in the boardroom. They can bring far greater value to your company and its brands if they are there from the beginning.