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Koelnmesse, Chinese Sign Memorandum

Published October 16, 2007

KOLN, Germany (BRAIN)—Koelnmesse and its Chinese business partners have signed an intellectual property memorandum to send out a clear signal for fair competition at trade fairs and to combat the violation of intellectual property rights for exhibited products.

Koelnmesse president and chief executive officer Herbert Marner signed the memorandum in Beijing in the presence of journalists and representatives of the group organizers that manage the participation of Chinese exhibitors in Cologne.

The memorandum, which is the first of its kind to have been initiated by a major European trade fair company, obliges the group organizers to adhere to German legal regulations and to take active measures to promote the protection of intellectual property rights at trade fairs and to prevent any violations of such rights.

Representatives of roughly 25 group organizers attended the signing, and more organizers are expected to sign the memorandum in the future. In its key points, the memorandum stipulates that all of the participating companies are to be informed in detail of the situation and that exhibitors affected by property rights violations will receive advice and support in cooperation with lawyers and the German authorities. In addition, the partners to the memorandum will launch a joint media campaign in Germany and China.

Product piracy is one of the chief problems plaguing the international trade fair business today. Violations of intellectual property rights on products and processes are often revealed at trade fairs. In Germany, such violations are considered to be an attack on the affected manufacturers, as they often threaten the companies’ future and seriously damage many sectors of industry.

According to Marner, the aim of the memorandum is to ensure that “trade fairs can continue to fulfill their chief function of depicting the global market in important sectors. The memorandum is an important step toward curtailing violations of intellectual property rights at trade fairs. We want to create the conditions necessary for quickly resolving violations of legal regulations and for helping affected companies assert their rights.”

That’s why the memorandum also stipulates that clearly visible support centers be set up at trade fairs in Cologne. Besides providing in-depth information to companies affected by violations, these centers will organize assistance from specialized lawyers and the German authorities. The memorandum clearly spells out what consequences violators of intellectual property rights will face, ranging from the removal of the pertinent products and the closing of the stand to the offending company’s exclusion from future events.

The protection of intellectual property rights is a key issue for Koelnmesse, whose events are attended by many companies from China. In fact, more than 3,500 companies from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao regularly exhibit their products in Cologne. The largest Chinese contingents come to the International Hardware Fair/Practical World, the household appliance fair domotechnica, imm cologne, the international garden trade fair gafa, and Anuga, the world’s leading food fair.

According to Marner, this makes China one of the leading exhibitor countries in Cologne. “It’s therefore in Koelnmesse’s interest to establish clear regulations for curbing violations of intellectual property rights and to combat prejudices against Asian exhibitors,” Marner said.

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