April 26 is designated as World Intellectual Property Day in celebration of intellectual property rights, including trademarks. Recognition and ownership of trademark rights require a concerted effort by governmental institutions, businesses, and the public alike in order to create an efficient and fair system of distribution of economic value. The benefits of having orderly national and international trademark regimes accrue not only to trademark owners, but also to other market participants, such as competitors and even consumers.
Important Legislation Passed in the Last Year
This year’s anniversary of World IP day broadly coincides with the enactment of the Trademark Modernization Act in the U.S. on December 27, 2020 and the end of the Brexit transition period overseas on December 31, 2020. Both of these events affect trademark registrability and enforceability in the respective jurisdictions. The Trademark Modernization Act, for example, creates new methods for companies to challenge federal applications and registrations with inaccurate claims of use with the purpose of expanding the scope of available trademarks for their emerging brands. The Brexit deal also impacts trademark ownership by separating the U.K. portions of both European Union Trademark registrations and International Registrations designating the EU and converting them into independent national registrations. Both pieces of legislation constitute a significant overhaul of current trademark laws and will likely influence future marketing decisions made by companies on both continents.
This Year’s Theme
The theme for World Intellectual Property Day 2021 is “IP & SMEs: Taking Your Ideas to Market,” as determined by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The focus of this year’s event recognizes the importance small and medium-size businesses play in the creation of intellectual property and in the economy in general, as wells as the need for the legal community to provide better resources to such enterprises in order to increase their competitiveness in the market and to further their business goals. In this respect, raising awareness about trademarks helps both consumers and competitors recognize the hard work and ingenuity it takes on the part of small business owners to create a reputation for their businesses and for their brands.