AAPEX Event Management recently strengthened its Intellectual Property (IP) Policy Statement to enhance its ability to assure exhibitors they can showcase the best of their products, solutions and developments on the show floor.
The changes are part of a plan formed by the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA) and the Auto Care Association to formalize the enforcement process for intellectual property complaints made at AAPEX, the largest annual automotive aftermarket trade show in the industry.
The IP Policy explains how AAPEX exhibitors can protect their products, services, advertising materials, catalogs and brochures through intellectual property laws. It also details how to lodge a complaint related to intellectual property rights at AAPEX. The full text of the document may be found here on the AAPEX website, aapexshow.com.
Show organizers say the changes to the IP Policy will help strengthen AAPEX Event Management’s ability to manage and respond to intellectual property complaints made at AAPEX. One notable change now explicitly provides that parties that receive multiple IP complaints through the policy may be prohibited from returning to the event. The changes are intended to provide a level playing field for exhibitors on the AAPEX show floor and to decrease the opportunity for disruption related to intellectual property disputes arising during the course of the event.
A summary of the revisions that were made to the policy are as follows:
(1) The revised Policy now explicitly states that AAPEX Management may evaluate a variety of factors when determining the veracity of a party’s claim or defense, including judicial judgments or governmental findings (worldwide), admissions by exhibitors related to intellectual property violations, and whether a party has taken any action off the show floor to enforce or defend its rights.
(2) The revised policy formally states that a company may be required to provide a sample product to AAPEX Event Management in certain instances. The party making the request may be required to establish that it owns the applicable intellectual property rights, these rights appear to be at risk, and that a violation of AAPEX rules/Policy has occurred. In such an instance, AAPEX Event Management shall be permitted to obtain a single sample of the suspected goods from the responding party and may share that sample with the complaining party.
(3) The revised policy also formalizes the ability of AAPEX Event Management to penalize companies that have received more than one intellectual property complaint at an AAPEX Show. The potential sanction depends upon the claim and the circumstances involved in the claim, such as, the egregious nature of the violation, an exhibitor’s willingness to comply, and other factors, such as whether the exhibitor is acting in an unprofessional, belligerent or disrespectful manner, or otherwise disrupting the course of business.
(4) The policy also now explicitly delineates the range of sanctions for repeat offenses. The sanctions include: removal from AAPEX, ineligibility to participate at a future AAPEX Show for a period of years, loss of seniority, or loss of membership. Further, the new policy makes it clear that the sanctions for “repeat offenses” apply to companies that may be related entities or that have the same owners.
(5) Finally, the revised policy also formalizes AAPEX Event Management’s ability to prohibit any company from displaying at AAPEX. The decision may be made for a variety of reasons, including any past violation of the show rules, this policy or any proven and recent intellectual property violations in the industry.
These changes may be found within the revised Policy and will be in effect at AAPEX 2015. The organizers of AAPEX maintain that they have a zero tolerance policy toward intellectual property infringement and intend for the revisions to the Policy to further their goal of promoting legitimate and lawful products and services on the AAPEX Show floor.
AAPEX 2015 is slated for Nov. 3 through Nov. 5, at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas, and is expected to feature more than 2,400 exhibitors, 5,000 booths and 39,000 targeted buyers. Approximately 130,000 automotive aftermarket professionals from nearly 140 countries are projected to be in Las Vegas during AAPEX.