INTA does the right thing

Pro Bono Clearinghouse

I’m glad I got my grumbling in before this hit my inbox:

The International Trademark Association (INTA) is pleased to announce the launch of its Pro Bono Trademark Clearinghouse. An initial two-year pilot program will take place in Germany and the United States, after which the Clearinghouse will be expanded to other countries.

The Pro Bono Trademark Clearinghouse has been created to connect eligible individuals and non-profit organizations in need of trademark legal assistance with trademark attorneys who are looking for pro bono opportunities, and are prepared and able to assist.

“Entrepreneurs and small business owners focused on growing their businesses often overlook the role of trademark protection in those early stages of business development. The same can be said about non-profits focused on their causes. The Clearinghouse provides INTA with an opportunity to elevate the status of trademarks within the business and non-profit communities,” noted INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo. “Indeed, this is a unique opportunity to promote early trademark registration and protection, and, in doing so, also support economic growth, innovation, and worthy non-profit organizations.”

I can’t say enough good things about this, but even if I tried they would not be all that original or even funny.  It’s the right thing to do, and it’s a great idea for lawyer volunteers too.  They get to work, however gauzy the relationship, under the aegis of the prestigious International Trademark Association; they get to do trademark stuff that is likely to make them better trademark lawyers; and, yeah, they get to tip the balance a little bit in the civil (litigation) wars or, as the case may be, with other (civil) representation involving trademark law.

More from INTA:

One of INTA’s core beliefs is that all consumers and businesses benefit when trademark rights are protected in a meaningful and consistent manner. The Clearinghouse allows INTA and its members to fulfill a commitment to the public interest in their field of expertise. Members who choose to be matched with clients will have a unique opportunity to stretch their skills and aid clients in need through meaningful work that benefits the business and legal communities that are invested in trademark rights.

The Clearinghouse is currently running as a pilot program and is limited to trademark issues in the United States and Germany. The Association’s ultimate goal is to roll out a large-scale clearinghouse open to all eligible INTA members and pro bono clients worldwide.

Getting Started

For Potential Clients: Please click here to access an intake form on which you will describe your trademark issue and provide information and documents relevant to your eligibility to be matched with an attorney for pro bono services.

OK, I must admit that I had not heard anything about that particular “core belief” until just now in my 15-plus years of involvement with INTA. But if that is a core belief — or if it just became one, even — I’m happy to hear about it now.

Trademark lawyer Ron ColemanFairly or otherwise, INTA has been an irresistible punching bag around here.  I’ve backed off lately because I am aware of a real desire on the part of INTA leaders to make the group work better and to view its mission more broadly than it has in the past.  Also, as a committee member, I am technically “leadership” — and you know what that means!:  Ribbons!


Plus they published this old thing.

All that makes external criticism somewhat inappropriate.

We call this “co-option.”  So be it!  I should always be fighting City Hall?

In fact this project makes me very proud to be involved (and to be a committee member!) with INTA.  I hope trademark professionals will step up to make this work, I encourage them to do so, and I anticipate that the program will be administered with a level of professionalism and conscientiousness consonant with most of what INTA does.  I also hope that the anticipated success of this program will make it a model for other specialized associations and bar groups. Don’t you?

Ron Coleman

I write this blog.

Leave a Reply