Exhibit with confidence
Last month ACID announced that an ACID Spring & Autumn Fair Intellectual Property (IP) Steering Group has been formed to consult with EMAP via ACID on current and emerging IP issues, to build on existing progress and cooperation with the organisers and to develop new initiatives to address exhibitor concerns on the increase of copying within this sector. Dids Macdonald, CEO of ACID talked to the members of this new panel and discussed some of the IP issues which concern them. Talks with the Spring Fair organisers are planned for the end of May.
Clare Farthing, Marketing Manager of Creative Tops and ACID IP Steering Group member said, “I believe that every participant at a trade show event should sign a legal agreement upholding professional standards regarding copyright design.” she continued, “In this way this awareness will be raised about the importance of intellectual property for each and every exhibitor and also give the show organisers an opportunity to act if exhibitors are persistent copyists.” Creative Tops use the following statement to reinforce their IP policy to all visitors to their website,“All copyright, design rights and intellectual property rights existing in our designs and products and in the images, text and design of our website / marketing material are and will remain the property of Creative Tops Limited. We will treat any infringement of these rights seriously.”
Established in 1996, Creative Tops started life making just one product, glass work top savers with surface design. Then in 1998 they began to manufacture lap trays and in no time at all the range grew to encompass a whole collection of co-ordinated products including; tablemats, coasters, trays, mugs, dinner sets, gift sets, textiles, kitchen accessories and much more. Their business has grown to encompass a large portfolio of products designed by an experienced team of designers who, between them, have many years experience in analysing market trends and delivering strong commercial surface patterns, within strict time frames. Having been copied several times, Creative Tops put intellectual property as one of their brand’s key strengths. Launched at this year’s Spring Fair was a range of white ware under a new branding ‘Justin Capp’ who is a chef, demonstrating not only the endorsement of Justin but the positive benefit of using a licensed trade mark.
Dan Black of Black & Blum, also a member of the ACID IP Steering Group said, “Being involved with an ACID Accredited Exhibition like Spring Fair gives us confidence and I know that any alleged copying issues will be dealt with on site at the exhibition. It is daunting to go to an international fair with new designs because with new technology, new products are so easy to copy. It is in the exhibition organiser’s interest to protect the IP of design led exhibitors to keep them designing and creating, because it brings the buyers in. After all, buyers are attracted by new products.”
Black & Blum’s latest new product “the Box Appetit” is a revolutionary new lunch box, more like a ceramic bowl than your standard food container and with better functionality. This is also protected by a registered Community design which gives a monopoly right, lasts for 25 years and is protected in 27 EU member states.
Patrick Heeley of Villeroy & Boch is no stranger to dealing with copying issues and is quite clear about his objectives when exhibiting, “An important factor for us attending Spring Fair is that ACID will be present with their on the spot mediation service. I would also like to see a heightened acknowledgement by the organisers on their zero tolerance policy to copying.” Brand protection and a strong IP policy are at the heart of this household name. “Every strength in one brand.” This is the strategy with which Villeroy & Boch are addressing the challenges of the market and the competitive situation in the new millennium centres on the strength of their brand. Credibility, quality, image, competence, elegance, harmony, design and lifestyle are the defining characteristics. Products from all divisions of the company have received prestigious design awards such as the “red dot award: product design” from the Design Zentrum Nordrhein-Westfalen, the “good design” award from “The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design” or the “IF product design award” from International Forum Design.
Another ACID IP Steering Group member and MD of Lubkowski Saunders Associates, Penny Laughton said, “I would like to see an Emap board director fully engaged with ACID and the issue of IP. Every year LSA sends a copy of their new brochure and designs to ACID to be held on the free ACID Design Data Bank including the recycled glass Mia collection launched in January 2010.”
IP is very much at the heart of the Caroline Gardner Publishing brand and every time a new product range is designed a copy is sent immediately to the ACID Design Data Bank. Winner of many prestigious awards, Caroline’s quirky yet sophisticated designs are brought to life by employing little used traditional printing techniques, such as letter press and die stamping, but interpreted in a very modern way. The cards have an extremely loyal following and are both instantly recognisable and highly sought after by a diverse group of consumers. Angus Gardner, also a member of the ACID Spring Fair IP Steering group said, “I am pleased to be part of this steering group and look forward to positive dialogue with the organisers of Spring Fair to ensure that IP protection is at the heart of the Spring Fair brand.”
Andy Kingston, Managing Director of Fiesta Collectables who is fully supportive of the ACID IP Steering Group said, “As well as owning the intellectual property rights in all our product ranges we have an added armoury in that the majority of our sculptors put a secret mark on their work. This means that any copyists who get rid of the name stamped on the product are in for a surprise because we can tell immediately if they are designed by one of our sculptors. For example, on Ebay last week when we discovered a product being sold we sent an immediate email asserting our rights and informing them that they could run the risk of being closed down by Ebay. It’s a sure fire way of getting instant action. Ebay’s policy is to close down the trading status of companies who sell knock off or copied goods.”
Angela Hewitt of Angela Hewitt Designs an exhibitor at many UK fairs and exhibitions said, “As an artist, all my artwork is original and painted by me. It is protected by copyright.” At the last Spring Fair Angela was extremely disappointed to see, only one aisle away, a new artist/exhibitor displaying what looked like remarkably similar artwork. She will be keeping a close and watchful eye at any future exhibitions. Copyright lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years following their death. However, if an artistic work is commercially exploited, this period is usually reduced to 25 years protection from the end of the first year of commercial exploitation. Copyright will be infringed if the design is copied and the copy features important parts taken from the design or artwork.
The IP Steering Group comprises of ACID members: Dan Black of Black & Blum, Patrick Heeley – Villeroy and Boch, Claire Farthing – Creative Tops, Penny Laughton of LSA, Angus Gardner – Caroline Gardner Publishing, Andy Kingston – Fiesta Collectables, Angela Hewitt – Angela Hewitt Designs and Jan Constantine of Jan Constantine Ltd. During the first consultation, the ACID IP Steering Group have raised the following issues and suggested various action points and outcomes:
IP Steering Group recommendations:
- Making it completely clear at every opportunity (entrance, catalogue, website, as part of registration process, web links, etc.) photography is not allowed unless with the express permission of the stand in question.
- Heightened security briefing and action to stop unauthorised photography
- Endorsing ACID’s objectives and ACID Accredited status as per the agreed criteria of the ACID Exhibition Organisers Accreditation Manual.
- To have an Emap board director fully engaged with the issue of IP
- To have every participant at a trade show event sign a legal agreement upholding professional standards regarding intellectual property and confirm that they own the rights or have a license to market the products on their stands (ACID has a template agreement)
- A communication sent to the organisers of the visiting exhibitors in the Chinese Hall in Mandarin to explain about EMAP policy on intellectual property protection and to ensure that this is communicated and understood by all exhibitors. Many look alikes are manufactured in China and other BRIC countries and this is viewed as a positive initiative to engage in constructive dialogue.