One giant leap for brand owners – a report from INTA 2023

7 minute read
27 June 2023

The world for brands is clearly changing, rapidly in some cases and these changes are no longer just on the horizon. Read our two reports below and get insights on the teams' conversations at the International Trademark Association's (INTA) 2023 Annual Meeting about the future of brand protection.

Co-head of brands and designs John Coldham heard many conversations about how complex and difficult to handle online brand protection has become. Whereas our partner and current member of the INTA board of directors, Paula Clancy, looked deeper at the discussions around intellectual property (IP) in outer space.

Combatting online infringement: does technology hold the key?

One of the central issues that brand and design owners alike seem to struggle with is how to deal with the proliferation of online infringement. Many brand owners simply put their heads in the sand and ignore it, but this allows it to get bigger and bigger.

Why do they ignore it? The prevailing view, based on our team's conversations at INTA 2023, seems to be that to tackle the issue is too big, too expensive, or both. And at first blush, this would seem to be right. There are hundreds of platforms across the world pedalling copy products or otherwise misusing brands. Meanwhile, retailers in western nations are increasingly using less well-known platforms to source goods as cost of living pressures impact their customers.

Until now, the solution has been to either use a law firm to do manual search and takedowns, which is expensive and hardly scratches the surface unless you have a small number of infringements of high importance, or having a tech provider scrape the net and do mass takedowns. Beyond being expensive, the issue with the latter solution is that important decisions about takedowns are routinely made by analysts that a) brand owners have never spoken to and b) may not understand the unique decision-making pressures required for a particular company.

Our conclusion from talking to brand owner clients, as well as other professionals at INTA, is that a better solution is required – one that harnesses the best tech currently available to identify infringements and weed out irrelevant hits, and combine it with best-in-class brand and design protection advice.

The issue is how to do that without it costing a fortune.

We've developed a product called Saturn, an online brand protection solutions haped by our clients' experiences and comments over the years. This automated platform allows us to provide clients with more strategic and comprehensive online brand enforcement, all while keeping costs competitive.

Using technology to combat online infringement is clearly essential, but brand owners need proper legal advice and support to ensure the battle is fought strategically. This will allow targeted attacks on the more problematic infringers, while taking down the wider proliferation of low level sellers cost effectively.

To learn more about our online infringement services, please contact co-head of brands and designs, John Coldham, or a member of our Trademarks, Brands & Designs team.

IP in outer space

One of the most exciting topics highlighted at INTA's 2023 Annual Meeting was the need for mechanisms to protect intellectual property rights in outer space.

"Out of this world" opportunity?

It's no secret that robust IP laws are essential for any competitive and innovative economy, and in recent years space has emerged as a significant untapped market for brand owners the world over. The emergence of this extraterrestrial economy has given real urgency to the question of how to protect intangible assets in outer space.

Indeed, space is no longer within the exclusive ambit of government agencies. Companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin, GHGSat, Rocket Lab and Orbital Insight (to name a few) are actively pursuing commercial activities beyond Earth, from cleaning up space junk and monitoring various aspect of human activity, to research and development and tourism. Experts predict that low Earth Orbit (LEO), together with the Moon and Mars, will be key "markets" in the next 25 years.

The trademark community considers its launch plan

In 2023, INTA published a seminal whitepaper on IP in space. As noted at the time by INTA CEO, Etienne Sanz de Acedo, the report was intended to be "...a wake-up call for international organisations, governments, IP authorities, and indeed, all stakeholders in both IP and space exploration, to identify and develop fair, transparent, and actionable mechanisms to promote innovation and the protection of IP in outer space."

The protection of brands in this new frontier presents a number of challenging questions for regulators worldwide. For example, where should trademark protection be sought for marks that are used in outer space? How will the clearance of such marks be done to determine whether marks intended for use in space are "available" for use and/or registration? Who will maintain the register? How will such marks be enforced?

As a preliminary measure, the INTA whitepaper proposes expanding the Madrid System to include a new jurisdiction called "Outer Space." However, there will likely be a need to further define the regions of outer space to which Madrid would be applicable (e.g. Mars, the Moon, etc.).

We will continue to monitor this topic and bring you updates as we boldly go where few IP professionals have gone before. Clearly, the sky is no longer the limit. If you have questions, please reach out to Paula Clancy or a member of our Trademarks, Brands & Designs team.

To read more about the current hot topics for brand owners, such as IP protection in the metaverse, trade secrets for brands, or IP developments in Asia, please visit

NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Information made available on this website in any form is for information purposes only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. You should not rely on, or take or fail to take any action based upon this information. Never disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking legal advice because of something you have read on this website. Gowling WLG professionals will be pleased to discuss resolutions to specific legal concerns you may have.



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