I found my niche advising foreign clients on Korean trademark law, and INTA is where I was able to build my client base.
47.5% of my billings as a trademark attorney were from clients I met at INTA, so it is not surprising that the INTA Annual Meeting has always been the highlight of the year for me. Well, at least until COVID threw a big spanner in the works…
My first INTA was 2010 in Boston, and since then, I attended the Annual Meeting every year until 2019, my 10th INTA Annual Meeting, which coincidentally took place in Boston again. And then COVID hit, resulting in a two-year INTA break.
Now that INTA is back with a partially in-person Annual Meeting, this time in Washington, D.C., will I be attending? I have made the painful decision not to attend this time, because I don’t believe that there will be enough in-person attendees to make attending worthwhile from a business perspective (for my business), so I’m waiting till next year for my INTA comeback.
On a related note, since I’m a data junkie, I tried to find data to inform my decision on whether or not to attend, so we conducted a survey, asking trademark attorneys around the world whether they were planning to attend the INTA 2022 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. in person. You can view the results of the survey here.
Despite not attending this year’s Annual Meeting, I remain a big INTA fan, and I would recommend any trademark professional to make the INTA Annual Meeting an annual fixture on their calendar.
Why is that? Well, here we go: In no particular order, my personal top 5 reasons to attend the INTA Annual Meeting:
As a foreign attorney working in Korea, I found my niche advising foreign clients on Korean trademark law, and INTA is the forum where I was able to build my client base. Over the course of my career as a trademark attorney, I estimate that INTA contacts accounted for about 47.5% of my billings. This is a fairly accurate number, underpinned by invoicing and CRM data.
Most of my clients were IP law firms, not corporate clients, and the INTA Annual Meeting is the perfect venue for building connections with law firms from other countries, since most of the attendees are attorneys working in private practice.
Still - 47.5% of my billings?? That may seem like an unbelievably big number attributable to only one annual 5-day conference, and I was surprised by that number too. But data never lies. If you’re curious about how I was able to achieve that, please check out this blog post on the “Top 5 Ways To Get the Most Out of the INTA Annual Meeting”, in which I share some of the best practices that I figured out over the years.
I have always been of the opinion that outbound work (i.e. work in foreign countries done for domestic clients) should be considered an important cornerstone of every IP practice. That is because you are able to develop stronger relationships with domestic clients, due to their physical proximity (and the stronger your relationship is with your client, the less likely you are to get fired), and you can leverage your outbound work to generate inbound work through reciprocal relationships with foreign associates.
If you want to be able to provide your domestic clients with excellent outbound legal services, then you need an excellent network of foreign associates.
The INTA Annual Meeting is the only event that I know of where you can meet lawyers from virtually every jurisdiction in the world, all in the same place. Where else can you have back-to-back meetings with associates from Macau, Morocco, and Moldova?
Over the years, I have made many great friends at INTA. Many also became clients, or I became clients of theirs.
I have been invited to two weddings by INTA friends, both coincidentally Mexican (Rodolfo Rangel of TMI Abogados and Patricio Gonzalez of NEREO). My 10 years of attending INTA would have been worth it just for those experiences, since as you would know if you’ve ever attended one, Mexican weddings are simply the best! Mexicans sure know how to throw a party.
My wife and I have been to about a dozen international weddings over the years - it’s become somewhat of a hobby of ours. We have been to weddings in France, Italy, Thailand, China, Mexico, the US, Northern Ireland, England, and of course Korea. Attending an Indian wedding is still on our bucket list, though, because we have heard breathtaking stories about these lavish, sometimes multi-day, affairs. This is a subtle hint to my Indian INTA friends who are reading this!
I’m not really a party person, but once a year, during the INTA Annual Meeting, even I catch the party bug. Law firms and corporations host receptions and parties, some of which are by invitation only, but most of which are open to all INTA attendees.
During my ten years of attending INTA, there’s been something of a reception arms race, which reached its climax at the 2016 INTA Annual Meeting in Orlando, where the Indian firm Chadha & Chadha hosted a “block party”. Yes, you read that correctly… they rented out an entire block and invited all 10,000+ INTA attendees to a huge party spread out over half a dozen venues. Chadha & Chadha were also the firm that started the trend of renting clubs for INTA parties. Now, that has kind of become par for the course, if you want to host a big party at INTA. Another one of my favorite INTA parties is “The Great Piano Duel”, hosted every year by another Indian firm, Lall & Sethi. What is it with Indians and parties? (See above… Ben’s dream of attending an Indian wedding.)
The parties usually start on Friday, and they don’t even end with the official INTA Grand Finale on Wednesday, because there’s usually one final party hosted by the African firm Inventa, which starts after the Grand Finale. I confess that I have never attended it, because by that time, I’m usually completely sapped. Batteries empty. However, it’s a great illustration of the endless possibilities to party and network after hours at the INTA Annual Meeting.
When you’re attending an event for business, of course you want to make sure that you have a positive return on your investment. INTA checks this box as well.
The INTA Annual Meeting officially lasts for 5 days (Saturday to Wednesday), but many attendees already arrive on Thursday or Friday to get a head start on their meetings. Assuming you stay in a decent hotel close to the convention center (which I definitely recommend) but save a bit of cash by flying economy, then INTA will set you back about USD 6,000 including the INTA membership fee and the conference registration fee.
Over the course of the week, you can have about 50 meetings, even more if you’re ambitious and have the energy. One great thing about INTA is that there is a “meeting culture” at the Annual Meeting. At other conferences, people may not be too keen on having networking meetings, but at INTA, everybody is there to make connections, so it’s very easy to get a full schedule of meetings.
If you’re expecting immediate returns on your INTA investment, you may be in for a disappointment, but in the long term, all you really need is for one or two of those 50 meetings to eventually turn into a client relationship in order for your INTA Annual Meeting to have been profitable. As IP attorneys we are lucky that our client relationships are usually long-term. It’s not about the case, it’s about the client. If you do a good job, then the same client is likely to continue sending you more and more work in the future.
So there you have them. My top 5 reasons to attend the INTA Annual Meeting. In my opinion, everyone working in the trademark industry should be attending the INTA Annual Meeting. Whether you are an attorney seeking to develop your inbound practice, an attorney focusing on domestic clients with regular outbound work, or an in-house counsel managing a big network of outside counsel, INTA is the place where you can get it all done in one week.
If you want to learn more about INTA and how to get the most out of your INTA experience, please read my blog post on the “Top 5 Ways To Get the Most Out of the INTA Annual Meeting”.
If you are looking for data to help you fill your 50+ INTA meetings, WeCrest has created a free tool specifically for attendees of the INTA 2022 Annual Meeting. You can use this tool to generate a list of the top 20 law firms with the most Madrid cases in the jurisdiction that you practice in, all of which would be high-value potential clients for you.
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