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IGF 2018 LIGHTNING SESSION #10 Empowering Innovators in Developing Economies

Session Organizer: Lori Schulman, International Trademark Association, USA

Speakers:

Charles Shaban, Abu-Ghazaleh IP, Jordan

Lori Schulman, International Trademark Association, USA

Theme: Development, Innovation and Economic Issues

Subtheme: Internet for Development & Sustainable Development Goals

Relevance of the Issue:

Do trademark, domain and brand protection enable or hinder economic growth in the digital landscape? The issue of the role of intellectual property rights within the internet governance structure are a source of ongoing debate.  Some view trademarks and domain protection as growth inhibitors while others view them as the building blocks for sustainable business. This builds on the 2016 IGF Lightening Session, "Trademarks Enable Sustainable Growth." http://www.intgovforum.org/multilingual/index.php?q=filedepot_download/4183/451

Content of the Session:

As never before in history, entrepreneurs and small business that need to break out of local economic circumstances have the opportunity to create a business or other endeavor, to empower it, promote it and make it sustainable with the help and support that ICT brings to them.  But, of course, to grow and be successful over time, a business needs more than internet access:  it needs internet presence.   A key element of a unique online presence is offered by combining a website based on a ''good'' domain name matching a trademark that offers information about source, ownership and quality of goods and services.  Combining domain names and trademarks provides the means for broad outreach to the global economy.   A recent impact study conducted by the International Trademark Association (INTA) demonstrates that trademark intensive economies grow faster, promote employment and offer a path to sustainability.  See http://www.inta.org/Communications/Documents/Latin_America_Impact_Study_... Trademarks, in particular, help protect a business from unfair competition and related violations and also have the potential to become an important asset of the business with a real and sometimes substantial value.  These assets become the basis for sustainability by enabling the business to license its products or services and to expand into complementing streams of commerce.  This benefits the proprietor, the consumer and the community-at-large.  A successful business and brand can reflect positively on the country of origin and its economy and employment prospects. Trademarks are what connects the business to its customers and to its country.  Famous Brands immediately identify a country.  If we look at marks like Sony, Ford, Lego, and Heineken, most of these businesses started with a small unknown trademark and an individual entrepreneur. Their trademarks have become famous and intertwined with the business, its products and brand presence and a source of national pride in the countries of origin.

3 Takeaways:

ICT provides entrepreneurs and small businesses the opportunity to create sustainable and inclusive businesses with the capacity to internationalize their businesses easily.  Smart business practices and intellectual property protection enable such growth.

Trademarks are symboles of trust in the digital economy. They enable entrepreneurs to protect their customers and their business assets. 

Managing an online presence while building a sustainable business comes with costs and benefits.

 

Session Time: 
Tuesday, 13 November, 2018 - 13:00 to 13:20
Theme: 
Development, Innovation & Economic Issues
Report: 

Session Title: Trademarks and ICTs: Empowering Entrepreneurs in Emerging Economies

Date:  Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Time:  13:00 to 13:20

Session Organizer: International Trademark Association (INTA)

Rapporteur:  Lori Schulman, [email protected]  

List of Speakers and their Institutional Affiliations:

Charles Shaban, Executive Director, Abu-Ghazaleh IP, Jordan

Lori Schulman, Senior Director, Internet Policy, International Trademark Association, USA

Theme: Development, Innovation and Economic Issues

Subtheme: Internet for Development & Sustainable Development Goals

Relevance of the Issue:

Do trademark, domain and brand protection enable or hinder economic growth in the digital landscape? The issue of the role of intellectual property rights within the internet governance structure are a source of ongoing debate.  Some view trademarks and domain protection as growth inhibitors while others view them as the building blocks for sustainable business. This builds on the 2016 IGF Lightening Session, "Trademarks Enable Sustainable Growth." http://www.intgovforum.org/multilingual/index.php?q=filedepot_download/4183/451

Content of the Session:

As never before in history, entrepreneurs and small business that need to break out of local economic circumstances have the opportunity to create a business or other endeavor, to empower it, promote it and make it sustainable with the help and support that ICT brings to them.  But, of course, to grow and be successful over time, a business needs more than internet access:  it needs internet presence.   A key element of a unique online presence is offered by combining a website based on a ''good'' domain name matching a trademark that offers information about source, ownership and quality of goods and services.  Combining domain names and trademarks provides the means for broad outreach to the global economy.   A recent impact study conducted by the International Trademark Association (INTA) demonstrates that trademark intensive economies grow faster, promote employment and offer a path to sustainability.  See http://www.inta.org/Communications/Documents/Latin_America_Impact_Study_... Trademarks, in particular, help protect a business from unfair competition and related violations and also have the potential to become an important asset of the business with a real and sometimes substantial value.  These assets become the basis for sustainability by enabling the business to license its products or services and to expand into complementing streams of commerce.  This benefits the proprietor, the consumer and the community-at-large.  A successful business and brand can reflect positively on the country of origin and its economy and employment prospects. Trademarks are what connects the business to its customers and to its country.  Famous Brands immediately identify a country.  If we look at marks like Sony, Ford, Lego, and Heineken, most of these businesses started with a small unknown trademark and an individual entrepreneur. Their trademarks have become famous and intertwined with the business, its products and brand presence and a source of national pride in the countries of origin.

3 Takeaways:

  • Trademarks are symbols of trust in the digital economy.They enable consumers to make quick, confident decisions
  • They enable entrepreneurs to protect their customers and their business assets. 
  • Trademark intensive economies grow at a faster rate, promote employment and offer a path to sustainability.

- Please elaborate on the discussion held, specifically on areas of agreement and divergence.

The format was an interview between Ms. Schulman and Mr. Shaban who is a very experienced trademark practitioner.  Using data from INTA impact studies and real-world examples from private practice, they discussed the importance of trademarks and domain names to small and women-owned businesses.  Trademarks are symbols of consumer trust. They help consumers make confident and quick choices and promote innovation by protecting entrepreneurs.  While having a technical function, domain names become source identifiers too.  Some participants questioned the policy of enforcing trademarks against poor people whose only means of living may be to sell unauthorized or counterfeit good in micro economies. The respondents suggested that those products may be of poor quality and unsafe.  It is incumbent upon the community and governments to build awareness of the dangers of counterfeits and to promote policies that enable the development and sale of legitimate goods and services.

- Please describe any policy recommendations or suggestions regarding the way forward/potential next steps.

As mentioned above, there is a need to build awareness that trademarks enable sustainable and inclusive economic growth. They are not solely for the use of large companies. They can help entrepreneurs identify and protect their emerging businesses.  Trademark protection is more affordable than people realize. Many trademark professionals are willing to work with small business owners, especially women entrepreneurs, to devise reasonable and cost effective plans for trademark protection and domain name acquisition.  Examples of woman owned businesses in Morocco, Cameroon, Jordan and US used to demonstrate the point.

- What ideas surfaced in the discussion with respect to how the IGF ecosystem might make progress on this issue? [75 words]

Suggestions were made that this session should be expanded to a full workshop as there is more interest in the community.  This is important in the IGF context because of the importance of building trust on the internet, fostering innovation and inclusion. Trademarks bridge the gap between basic access and using to access as an economic driver.  In this sense, trademarks have a place in discussions around technical engagement and supporting policy.

 

- Please estimate the total number of participants.  

20 seating participants and some walking in and out.

- Please estimate the total number of women and gender-variant individuals present.

It appeared that at least half to 2/3 of the participants were female.

- To what extent did the session discuss gender issues, and if to any extent, what was the discussion?   The discussion focused on women entrepreneurs and used several examples of woman owned businesses from a diverse range of economies to illustrate the points of discussion.

Related SDGs:  5 - gender equality, 8 – decent work and economic growth, 9 – industry, innovation and infrastructure, 16 – peace, justice and strong institutions

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 678