Dallas, TX – Trade show organizers in North America can now access the latest laws governing the protection of intellectual property rights at exhibitions in China by visiting the web site of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE).
IAEE’s web site, iaee.com, has a link to an official Chinese document detailing the procedures that the government and show organizers are taking to keep products that violate patent and trademark rights off the exhibit floor.
“New anti-piracy regulations require show organizers to report all cases of intellectual property rights (IPR) abuse at their events or risk facing severe fines and penalties,” said IAEE President Steven Hacker. “China has as much, if not more, at stake as other industrialized nations and the government understands that the piracy of intellectual property rights threatens its own economy.”
Government Enforcement Officials Will React Swiftly on the Show Floor
The seven-page document titled “Measures for the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights During Exhibitions” is the primary set of rules that cover exhibitions, Hacker said. The measures, which went into effect in March 2006, require government IPR enforcement officials to be stationed at trade shows and investigate complaints from exhibitors about products on display that they feel might violate their exclusive rights. Violators face the prospect of having their products hauled off the floor and their brochures destroyed on the spot.
The Three-Day Rule
Events that run three days or longer are required to have office space available in the exhibition hall for the IPR enforcement agents and to post signs directing anyone with a complaint to the appropriate room. Exhibitors or attendees who feel they have a beef about products on display file their complaint with the IPR officials, who have the power to inspect the booth in question and seize the offending goods if they are deemed to be a knockoff of a product that is patented, copyrighted or trademarked. Exhibitors are required by law to cooperate with investigators and “not injure the IPRs (intellectual property rights) of any person or entity.”
Individuals filing a complaint are required to present a stack of paperwork supporting their claim. The documentation includes proof of IPR ownership, such as a patent certificate, trademark registration certification or the text of a patent announcement. Once the complaint and its supporting documentation have been received, the IPR administrators have 24 hours decide whether or not there are grounds to remove the items from the exhibit.
Two Strikes and You’re Out
Show organizers will be kept informed about complaints and ongoing investigations; however they are also obligated to play an active role in policing their events. The rules require organizers to take steps to inform exhibitors about IPR laws and to bar any company that commits two consecutive violations from exhibiting at future shows. And if the organizers don’t take those requirements seriously, Article 32 of the rulebook could bring their foray into the China market to an abrupt end.
“Where a sponsor (organizer) fails to fulfill its obligation regarding the IPRs protection during an exhibition, the administrative department of exhibitions shall give a warning thereto and disapprove any application thereof for holding any relevant exhibition again,” the article said in straightforward legal absoluteness.
Back in Dallas, IAEE’s Steve Hacker told Trade Show Executive, “Much of what has been adopted in these regulations was the result of practices that we shared with the Chinese from some of our members in the U.S. It is pretty remarkable that the Chinese adopted the regulations as quickly as they did.” Hacker said the only real delay occurred in waiting for the regulations (which were effective in March) to be translated and then posted also in English at the Ministry’s website. “We now have our own Chinese translators to prevent that kind of delay in the future,” Hacker pointed out.
Hacker said the new laws were “not a perfect solution,” but noted that IPR infringement is not a problem unique to China and offers challenges worldwide. He added that Beijing’s “embrace” of the need for IPR protection at exhibitions was a significant step in making trade shows in China attractive to exhibitors. “Substantial progress is being made,” he said, “and that is very noteworthy.”