In a post from last Friday, Lara Pearson takes on what she calls “Censorship at INTA .”* It’s about the big-IP redoubt’s plan to remove the justly famous “INTA List,” the TM Topics email discussion group to behind a slick “social-networking” wall of exclusivity for INTA members only.  As Lara puts it:

The TM Topics list primarily was used by practitioners to discuss legal or procedural issues, or to  seek recommendations for foreign associates or other vendors.  Occasionally a pro per applicant  seeking free legal advice or a vendor solicitation would find their way onto the list, but those occasions were rare (likely due to good moderation; thanks for that, INTA).  Sadly, INTA terminated TM Topics right before the holidays at the end of this year.On December 10, 2010, INTA announced a new private network for its members — My Powerful Network.   Realizing that I  soon would be a non-member unable to access INTA’s new platform, I sent several posts about the move to TM Topics.  Each of these posts was returned to me by the list manager with a notice that they were not approved by the moderator.  After another post of mine was approved (one not relating to the move of the list), I contacted the list manager directly.  I was told that my posts were not published because the response to all the queries about the move would be answered in one posting. . . .

This didn’t answer my questions, so I sent additional queries in posts to TM Topics. Those too were returned unapproved.

I then bcc’d 50 of the current most frequent TM Topics contributors [including LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION®’s me, Ron Coleman] and representatives of INTA asking that we please have a public discussion about the move of the list on the list. All but a handful of the colleagues whom I bcc’d responded to me and/or INTA — all but one in support of maintaining the current format. The whole conversation was censored by INTA.

INTA pulled the plug on TM Topics right before the holidays. Beforehand, it posted a total of TWO e-mails, both written by INTA, regarding the move of TM Topics. The community discussion was never heard. Many people never got to voice an opinion. For an organization that’s focused on brands, this move by INTA sure seems detrimental to its brand. Worse yet, for INTA members who are willing to logon to a private platform to use TM Topics, the Terms of Use for My Powerful Network include this provision:

You grant INTA a nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual, unlimited, assignable, fully paid up and royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to copy, prepare derivative works of, edit, adapt, translate, distribute, publish, delete, archive, analyze, use and commercialize, in any way now known or in the future developed, any information you provide My Powerful Network, without any further consent, notice and/or compensation.

Not only do you have to login to a website to access My Powerful Network (rather than simply opening your e-mail), but you have to sign your rights away to use it. Brand Disastor if you ask me!

There’s a lot here that’s worth looking into, but the gagging is creepy.  I never thought of INTA as particularly democratic or meritocratic, nor of being obligated to anyone to be either of those things.  But I did always think of TM Topics as being quite reasonably open.  It must have been because, well, it never bounced little old me, who does not exactly sing the INTA tune every little moment.

What does INTA intend to achieve by preventing discussion of these changes on TM Topics and sending it out onto…. the streets, like here?

* OK, technically she says “the INTA.”  She says the INTA, I say INTA. Call it what you want, just don’t call it the AIPLA!

Originally posted 2011-01-10 16:45:13. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Ron Coleman

I write this blog.

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