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Symposium Spotlight: Panel Discussions

Published onFeb 23, 2022
Symposium Spotlight: Panel Discussions

The Journal of Business & Intellectual Property Law looks forward to its three panel discussions on Friday, Feb. 25.

Following words of welcome and introduction by 3L Hunter Revord and Professor Alan Palmiter, we will begin our first panel discussion on SME Sustainability Governance. This session will be followed by a panel conversation on the Role of Intellectual Property in SME.

After returning from lunch and following the keynote address delivered by Francisco Reyes, our third and final panel of the day will discuss SME Regulation and Incentivization.

We hope you will take a moment to read the information below about our three panels and each of our excellent panelists.

Sustainability Governance: Private & Public 

Experts in this panel will compare and contrast the effectiveness and necessity of private governance and public governance in terms of sustainable SMEs. Governance is defined as the “system by which companies are directed and controlled.” In this context, private governance involves two types of factors: external (supplier and customer) and internal (employees, organizational culture, competitive advantage). On the other hand, public governance is a combination of processes that a third party, like a government or governing body, implements to manage and monitor an organization’s activities in achieving its objectives. SMEs lack a type of public governance simply because most SMEs are privately owned.

With these considerations in mind, some questions our panelists will wrestle with include:

  • Should public regulatory agencies play a larger role in SME governance? Should SME governance be regulated at all?

  • Should there be a government compliance audit for sustainability-driven SMEs?

  • Are there targeted education and consulting services available to SMEs?

  • Should the banks play a bigger role in the governance of SMEs, since many SMEs start out by receiving loans from these institutions?

The panel’s conversation will expand beyond this list of sample questions, and include wholesome debate among the panelists, as well as questions from our moderator, Professor Roian Atwood.

Panelists will include:

Karen Jarmoc

●      Assistant Vice President Sustainability Leader at the Hartford

●      Builder of relationships and coalitions that increase organizational sustainability, impact, and advanced public policy.

Alexey Volynets

●      Corporate Governance/Knowledge Management Officer ESG Dept. at the International Finance Corporation.

●      Creator and manager of innovative capacity-building programs for business leaders – owners, board directors, and top management.

Mike Lubrano

●      Attorney and Managing Director of Valoris: Stewardship Catalysts

●      Global expert and advisor on corporate governance and reform issues


The Role of Intellectual Property in Sustainable SME Innovation 

This panel will discuss the role of intellectual property (IP) in helping sustainability-focused SMEs succeed in growing their innovations. First, the panelists will provide individual explanations to the question: “Why is intellectual property important for sustainable SME innovation?” Our audience members that are unfamiliar with IP basics will benefit greatly from a brief description of the general principles of patents, trademarks, and trade secrets, and an explanation for why those specific instruments would be most effective for sustainable innovation.

Next, we will encourage our panelists to offer their opinions on two thought-provoking questions regarding the different IP strategies that SMEs use to align themselves with commercial success:

  • How are we able to strengthen SME green innovation ecosystems through the effective use of IP to drive economic growth?

  • Which legal strategy is the most effective for sustainable SMEs (open, semi-open, or closed) and why?

The panel’s conversation will expand beyond this list of sample questions, and include wholesome debate among the panelists, as well as questions from our moderator, Professor Keith Robinson.

Panelists will include:

Elizabeth Dougherty


●      Eastern Regional Outreach Director for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

●      25 year veteran of the USPTO and former Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO

David Sar

●      Intellectual Property and Business Attorney – Partner at Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, LLP

●      Local certified “specialist” in trademark law with experience working with green start-ups

Rudy Gaines

●      Owner of a Rudy Gaines Creative Business Growth Company

●      Chair of the Public and Media Relations Committee for the International Trademark Association

SME Sustainability Regulation and Incentivization

This panel will discuss the regulation and incentivization framework (or lack thereof) for influencing SMEs to transition towards sustainability. The panelists will discuss this topic in light of two types of sustainable SMEs: (1) Sustainable Innovators, which are companies developing new products, technologies, and approaches that can have transformational impacts, and (2) Sustainable Performers, which make up the vast majority of SMEs, and are companies that can take steps to make their operations more resource-efficient and environmentally friendly.

Additionally, this panel will discuss the effectiveness of the current regulatory framework and offer suggestions on how to amend the framework in order to ensure environmental standards are appropriate, proportional, and well-enforced. The panel will touch upon the similarities and differences between regulatory frameworks implemented by the United States and European or Asian countries. Questions under this topic will include:

  • What can the United States learn from European policy in this space?

  • Should we implement a Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CRSD) or Enterprise Europe Network Sustainability (EEN) Services in the U.S.?

  • How is Biden’s administration changing this regulatory framework?

Lastly, this panel will compare and contrast the incentivization frameworks of sustainable SMEs from different countries. This panel will touch upon the following incentives and describe why they may or may not be effective:

  • reduction of inspection frequency,

  • reduction of pollution penalties, and

  • increase of financial incentives (including preferential tax treatment and ease of access to financings, such as grants or loans).

The panel’s conversation will expand beyond this list of sample questions, and include wholesome debate among the panelists, as well as questions from our moderator, Professor Stan Meiburg.

Panelists will include:

John Dernbach

●      Commonwealth Professor of Environmental Law and Sustainability and Director of the Environmental Law and Sustainability Center at Widener University Commonwealth Law School

●      Nationally and internationally recognized authority on sustainable development

Michael Curley

●      Visiting Scholar at the Environmental Law Institute and President of Environmental Finance LLC

●      Financial practice attorney with a specialty in designing finance mechanisms for environmental programs

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