In modern societies the functions of both copyright and industrial property laws are experiencing various pressures and are undergoing historical changes, primarily due to digitalization and global networking. The objective of this Table Topic Roundtable is to conduct a discussion on such changes in respect of trademark law and look into the possible trends in trademark law and its role in digitized societies. In addition, recently, experts have been pointing out to certain weaknesses in mature economies and their way of using IP. Activist movements have already been pointing in this direction and have included intellectual property among the social systems they consider ripe for rethinking.
After initial denial and a protracted period of reluctance, the IP community seems to have acknowledged that without seizing the momentum it might become marginalized in the discussions on its own field of expertise. It is therefore paramount for the IP, and specifically trademark communities, to leapfrog their reluctance in tackling these complex issues. In the trademark field, the emergence of new trends, such as e.g. fluid marks are indicating that the rules of the game are already changing. More interaction between the consumers and the protected signs and more mingling of free and commercial speech are some of the likely results. In addition, the emergence of Internet brought severe problems stemming from the need to trade on the integrated regional or global markets while enforcing the rights in the multi-jurisdictional arena conditioned by the territorial IP rights. In addition, the emergence of the 3-D printing technologies are likely to digitize the manufacturing content just as it did to the copyright industries, thereby bringing the instant multiplication and inherent shareability to a large segment of the thus far material goods. Once the manufacturers start printing their branded wares from the digital files the pirates are likely to copy them digitally the very next day.
This Table Topic roundtable aims to drive the discussions on the future of IP in an inquisitive manner and will continue and further the thread initiated by the “Anti-IP Sentiment” Session held at the Phoenix 2010 Leadership Meeting and the “Trademarks 2.0” Session held at Washington DC Annual Meeting 2012, trying to take these points further.