As part of our 'meet the team' series, we talked to Jacqueline Pang about ChatGPT, the use of trade marks in 'greenwashing' and her passion for cooking.
Jacqueline studied law at the London School of Economics before going on to do a masters at the University of Cambridge. She was interested in IP, so when a careers adviser suggested looking into becoming a trade mark attorney, she knew it was an avenue she wanted to pursue.
“I had always found IP intellectually fascinating and could see the obvious real-world applications of what I was learning,” says Jacqueline. “The traditional solicitor or barrister routes didn’t appeal to me but when I found out I could become a trade mark attorney, I saw how it would really suit my skills and interests.”
Jacqueline applied for a role at Mewburn Ellis, joining in 2011 before qualifying as a UK Chartered Trade Mark Attorney in 2014.
For Jacqueline, one of the best parts of the job is the process of working through complex trade mark issues and transforming that into something clients can understand. “It’s important not to lose sight of the big picture,” she explains. “It’s easy to get lost in the detail of the legal analysis, especially when you are really interested in it, but the skill of a good attorney is the ability to take that analysis and apply it to the commercial world. You need to present the client with the right information to allow them to make decisions about whether an IP matter is worth their time, money and attention or whether the company’s resources would be better used elsewhere.”
Artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to revolutionise the working lives of many in the legal profession and for Jacqueline, looking ahead, there’s no doubt that the likes of Chat GPT could mean changes to the job of a trade mark attorney too.
“Developments in AI have real potential when it comes to making the job easier, freeing us up to focus on areas where we can add value and work on what is important to our clients,” says Jacqueline. “The legal profession should embrace these new technologies rather than fear them. It’s not all about replacing jobs, it’s about creating efficiencies and new opportunities.”
AI also adds fresh complexity to the world of IP and is likely to throw up considerable legal challenges Jacqueline warns. “Chat GPT, for example, is able to create written works, music and code. This calls into question who is the author, who owns the copyright in these works?”
Another issue she sees coming to the fore for many practitioners is the need to manage the growing desire of brands to demonstrate their green credentials through trade marks.
“Consumers are more alive to climate change and the environmental footprint of the products and services they buy,” explains Jacqueline. “In response, brands are looking at how they can use trade marks to demonstrate their environmental credentials. They might do that in subtle ways, through the use of the colour green or by incorporating imagery of plants and nature, or more directly with claims they are ‘zero carbon’ or ‘net zero’.”
Care must be taken with this approach to make sure such claims can be backed up. If not, says Jacqueline, “there is real risk brand owners leave themselves open to accusations of ‘green washing’ or misleading consumers about how sustainable the product or company actually is.”
When she isn’t advising clients looking to demonstrate the sustainability of their products, or grappling with other complex trade mark issues, Jacqueline can be found poring over recipe books.
“If I hadn’t embarked on an IP career, my love of food and cooking would have made working as a chef or running my own restaurant a welcome alternative. I’m Chinese and a lot of the food I ate growing up was Chinese, but I didn’t get much of an opportunity to learn how to make it,” she says. “I’m trying to make up for lost time now and am teaching myself. There’s so much range, with so many different styles of cuisine from different regions of China – it’s a lot to learn.”
Jacqueline also has a new found love of hiking and last year went on a hiking tour in Peru, walking the Inca trail and exploring Machu Picchu. “It was a fantastic experience, we camped on route, something I had never been too keen on before, but it was great and this year I’m planning another hiking tour to the Balkans, taking in Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro.”
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