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Trade fairs are a great way to gain access to an international market. Exhibitors can market their products, carry out a competitor and market analysis, compare products and gain ideas and suggestions.


However, imitations are also catching up quickly, resulting in conflicts between legitimate right holders and the imitator. Therefore, the development of an IP protection strategy is an equally important part of the preparation for a trade fair.




Status of the property rights of the exhibition product


Both Germany and China have ratified the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and are members of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Therefore, the same legal framework applies to exhibitors from both countries.


As exhibitors, before you get ready for the trade fair, you should clarify the following questions:


  1. Do your exhibition products have property rights?
  2. Do your exhibition products have third-party rights?
  3. Are the third-party property rights properly licensed?
  4. Are its own property rights properly registered and valid?
  5. Are its own property rights or licensed property rights effectively extended to the country of the trade fair?
  6. Are there any non-registrable property rights in the exhibition products?
  7. Are the unregistered or non-registered property rights properly documented?


Categories of IP rights


Technical property rights


Technical property rights are patents, utility models as well as design protection. These can be registered in Germany as well as in China. But in order to be valid in other countries, the property rights need to be extended to the aimed country as well. Legal protection for patents can be obtained by registering a uniform European patent.


For a design, there is protection without registration, but only for three years, if not registered.


Trademark protection


The same applies to trademark, the trademark registration must be extended to the country of the trade fair in order to be legally on the safe side. This is possible both in Germany and China to register through the Madrid system for international trademark registration for WIPO.


Trademark protection in Germany already begins with the use of a symbol as well as the corporate logo. However, it is suggested to register its cooperate logo as a trademark for a better protection.


Intellectual property rights


Copyrights are, in principle, rights which can be protected even without registration.


Preparation of documents


If IP protection rights in the exhibition product are not documented in detail, it is often not possible, to clarify conflicts of intellectual property rights during such short period time at the trade fair.


Proper IP protection documentation should include the following:


  1. Registration document of intellectual property rights (IPR)
  2. Proof of validity of the IPR
  3. Proof of ownership of property rights


Exhibitors should bring the documents to the trade fair with themselves in the original or notarized form; Possibly also with translation. This also applies to the proof of entitlement that the exhibitor or the company of the exhibitor is the holder of the IP-protection right and/or the IP-protection right of a third party.


In the case of non-registered IP rights, documents could be useful to the right-holder as well as to the time of the first publication.


Measures for IP conflicts on site


If you are aware of any potential IP infringements at the fair, these can usually be reported to the appeal center or arbitration point on the spot. They provide information service free of charge, but they have no powers to take actions.


In Germany, IP protection is provided by the judicial system. Civil proceedings can be preceded by a warning of an infringement of the law, combined with a cease-and-desist order. If no declaration of a cease-and-desist is given, a preliminary injunction may be lodged


In exceptional cases, a preliminary injunction may be obtained without prior warning, which may already take place within one or two working days, but only serves as a provisional safeguard of the owner of the rights.


A confiscation of potential infringing exhibition products, however, requires criminal proceedings by the competent public prosecutor's office. But this takes much more time.


However, if you find yourself facing a dispute at the trade fair, you can use this bureaucratic hurdle to your advantage by filing an appeal, preferably with a patent attorney, to postpone the procedure till after the fair. This way, your products can continue to stay at the trade fair.


ECOVIS Beijing is a German-Chinese consultancy firm specialized in law, tax, accounting and financial statements. If you have any further questions regarding the protection of intellectual property, you can always contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Richard 1grau  
Richard Hoffmann
Richard Hoffmann is a partner at ECOVIS Beijing China. Richard obtained an honors degree in law and worked in Germany, the United States, and China for various prestigious law firms prior to joining ECOVIS. In addition to being a member of the board of ECOVIS International, he is Supervisor for the China business of a respected German company and shares his extensive knowledge to students by teaching commercial law in China at SRH Hochschule Heidelberg. He has published more than fifty articles in international magazines, frequently speaks at high profile events in China and abroad and is often invited as a legal expert by international TV stations. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Ecovis Beijing is the trusted tax and legal advisor to several embassies and official institutions in China. It specializes in mid-sized international companies and is focused on tax & legal advisory, accounting and auditing. If you’re interested in finding out more about tax and legal, don’t hesitate to sign up to our Newsletter, give us a call +86 (10) 6561 6609 or contact us directly via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ';document.getElementById('cloak97de631c8d8ced494e5720bad6a16f8a').innerHTML += ''+addy_text97de631c8d8ced494e5720bad6a16f8a+'<\/a>';
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