MILAN, ITALY — Exhibitors here at EICMA in Milan were required to sign a contract promising they would adhere to copyright, patent and intellectial property rights and not display items that could be deemed a copy of a competitor's exisiting product. So far a team of specialists assigned by event organizers to enforce the contract have responded to dozens of claims of such abuse dealing with vehicles, parts and apparel.
Massimo Casini, an attorney for event organizer Confindustria Ancma (Ancma), tells Dealernews the enforcement team removed three scooters from a Chinese company's display on Wednesday. Honda had claimed the Chinese company had copied its SH 125 scooter.
Ancma has provided this free service to exhibitors for a couple of years. "And, this year, dozens of companies have come to us claiming their product has been copied, or their intellectual property has been stolen," Casini says.
"Our efforts are to minimize or reduce the situation inside the fair because we want exhibitors to do business in a fair and appropriarte manner and avoid legal claims — which are difficult to enforce during the relatively short time of the event," he says. "We go to the booth in question along with the accuser, inspect the product, propose the case to the accused, and request the accused company to remove the product under discussion. If that company doesn't agree with the charge, we will tell the enforcement team to clear the exhibitor's booth."
However, Casini says the situation rarely gets to that point. "Ninety-nine percent of the time the exhibitors choose to remove the product themselves," he says. "Which actually saves a lot of time and money for the accusing company — the company that had its product design copied."
Of course, the accuser can also start legal proceedings in the courts after the fair. And, if the accused is eventually found by a judge to be guilty, that company will be banned from EICMA in the future.
"I personally hope this system will be expanded to other fairs because it's very effective," Casini says. "What we — the trade fairs throughout the world — need to do is coordinate our efforts against these unfair actions and create a universal clause that can be enforced at such events worldwide."