One of the most interesting aspects of working in IP is seeing the very practical impact of the work we do. It’s most obvious in brand disputes, where one brand might have to stop a particular advertising campaign, or rebrand completely, but it’s equally present in the aviation sector. I was a regular commuter between London and New York for several years but before that I had acted on a patent dispute involving the inner workings of power units in commercial airliners: there was not a single journey when I did not think back to that dispute and begin to wonder about other IP issues - entertainment systems, seat designs, product resale, the temporary importation into foreign jurisdictions of innovations covered by strictly territorial rights.

A newer issue this year is how the aviation industry is going to embrace the new gTLDs, for consumer-facing activities and otherwise. The European Space Agency has Observer status within ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee, which has had a lot of input into the new gTLD program, and there were a number of <.brand> new gTLD applications from airlines and airports, as well as a few generic flight-related applications too. The value of new TLDs has clearly been appreciated by a small number of early-adopters: others may well be waiting to see how Round 1 plays out before making any decision to join them.

Interestingly, Round 1 of the gTLD saw only one objection to a flight-related gTLD application, and it was ultimately unsuccessful. It will be interesting to see whether, and if so how, the aviation and aerospace communities are preparing themselves for round 2 of the new gTLDs.

Sarah Pearce