As the deadline 17 February 2012 for the early bird registration for the INTA annual meeting in Washington approaches all the currency speculators amongst you will be wondering whether to invest now in the $970 registration fee if you are a member or $1495 if you are not as against the on-site registration cost of $1495/$1995. INTA means the International Trademark Association, so all pure patent practitioners can zone out now. Now that INTA have introduced a solo membership fee of just $425 it does make sense to become a member.
Attending the INTA annual meeting will give you a bird's eye view of the entire global trademark profession in all its glory. I don't just mean by being able to overlook the exhibition as my snap above from the Boston meeting two years ago shows. Attendance does, however, mean travel and accommodation costs that need to be justified. There are plenty of CPD points. Many old hands will proudly say that they never attend any of the sessions. This is a waste. In the past many sessions have been poor quality or badly prepared. Why anyone with such an international stage would not make the best effort to provide a genuine educational experience, I don't know but it does seem to have been the case. This year I hope INTA will have all presenters on their top form.
Networking is the obvious objective. This is hard work and needs preparation. Fix up some meetings in advance but best of all prepare some conversational gambits. It is not, repeat not, a good idea to ask when the person you have just met is going home. Nothing is more calculated to show a lack of empathy and a desire to move on. Nevertheless you will probably be saying it yourself unless you school yourself with some debating topics that allow your new friend to show off a little of their own trademark knowledge or lack of it.
Being on a committee is considered by many to be a useful perk of membership. This is something of a lottery, but a good committee will get you working together with a random group of other members and an excellent opportunity to get to know them better. Getting a late seat is a bit difficult but a new member can ask.
As a member, you are also entitled to join a social network MY POWERFUL NETWORK which hasn't quite taken off yet. Hopefully, as people prepare for the meeting, some of the discussions may get livelier.
Receptions are the lifeblood of the annual meeting. As a common member you only get invited to the welcome reception and the last night (but you cannot expect to do much networking there - though if you make some friends you may be able to consolidate relationships).Be wary of those who boast that they have been to 6 receptions a night. There is no point. One good quality invitation will do. I am hoping that there will be a Meet the Bloggers reception as that is one of the best quality ones you could ever hope for as all Bloggers are by definition top people.