When the International Trademark Association (INTA) announced several years ago that the 2020 Annual Meeting was going to be in Singapore, I debated whether or not I should attend. Many of my friends in the organization encouraged me to attend this international INTA conference… But the pandemic shut everything down in March of 2020. For two years, the INTA Annual Meeting was virtual or in the United States.
Then, last year, INTA announced they were going to Singapore for the 2023 Annual Meeting. This time, I decided I was definitely going – since life is short, and you have to seize the opportunity when it is presented!
The travel to and from Singapore was the biggest challenge, both mentally and physically. We are not meant to travel in the air for 24 plus hours! And when you arrive, you have lost an entire day, and you are 13 hours upside down. However, it was worth it.
Singapore is a beautiful city with fantastic architecture, really nice people, good food, incredible gardens, and a great subway system. The weather was very hot and humid the whole time I was there, with periodic rainstorms. I learned by the second day that I could avoid walking around the hot, humid outdoors in my business suit by taking the subway system from the hotel to the convention center and anywhere else I wanted to travel. There is an incredible underground network of stores, restaurants, and walkways that connect buildings throughout Singapore.
The INTA Annual Meeting was attended by over 7,000 registered participants from around the world. For the first time, I got to meet Claudia Sotomayor, an attorney in Barcelona, Spain who has been helping me successfully fight an opposition to a trademark application in the European Union for a U.S. Client. I also got to see my friend Sarah Yuan, an attorney based in Beijing who has not been able to attend any INTA meetings since 2020. We had a wonderful international breakfast together one morning and caught up on the status of clients and our families.
There were two great Table Topic lunches I attended, one on “Damages in Trademark Lawsuits” and the other on “Licensing Data, Royalty Rates, and Deal Structures.” These topics are handled differently in each country, so it was fun to discuss the differences each attorney encounters in their trademark practice.
One of the highlights of the Annual Meeting was the opportunity to hear Jennifer Jones, the President of Rotary International, speak during the Opening Ceremonies. As a member of the Rotary Club of South Jacksonville, I was thrilled to see and hear her speak in person. She talked about the mission of Rotary International and how it overlaps with the good works of INTA. She specifically described the work of Rotary to:
- Wipe out polio throughout the world
- Educate girls
- Provide potable water for communities
- Protect our environment
Afterwards, I sought out the opportunity to shake her hand and speak to her for a few minutes. She invited me to attend a reception that evening for Rotary International. Remember that theme, to seize the opportunity that is presented to us?
So, I changed my schedule and attended the reception. There, I met trademark lawyers who were also Rotarians from Haiti, India, Argentina, and the Philippines.
During the reception, I got to see Gustavo Giay from Argentina again. I first met him in November 2018 and subsequently wrote a blog article about his speech at the 2018 INTA Leadership Meeting, The Three H’s of an Influencer. We had a great conversation about service through Rotary and its impact on his life.
‘Til Next Time
So, as you can see, I had a wide variety of experiences in Singapore that ranged from exhaustion to connecting with friends and colleagues to learning more about the world of trademarks – as well as sharing some positive moments with fellow Rotarians. I am glad I seized the opportunity and attended the INTA Annual Meeting in Singapore. My only regret? Next time, I will stay longer so I can acclimate, explore, and enjoy the experience even more.