“To be copied is the highest form of flattery.” Everybody in the textile and textile machinery
industry knows these words. Having been a sales manager in the past in a silk weaving company, I am
reminded that the issue of copying was always at the forefront of any work.
I still have memories of exhibitions like Interstoff in Frankfurt, which was the most
important event at that time, when people came into the booth, armed with scissors to steal some
new designs. In those days, physical samples were needed, but not for long. Soon, electronic design
software appeared in the industry, and many designs went eastward.
It’s also common sense that with the new World Trade Organization (WTO) treaty and the
abolishing of quotas, China became a textile powerhouse — first with fabrics, and now with
machinery. The situation became serious with the switch of ITMA Asia from Singapore to Shanghai.
The first show looked more like kind of a local Chinese machinery show than an ITMA with its
international flavor. Between every Western exhibitor there were always some Chinese manufacturers,
whose machines looked somewhat like clones of Western machines. And moreover, local people with
cameras and video equipment behaved as if they were at home. Nobody stopped them from taking
pictures and filming foreign equipment.
As mentioned above, trade fairs provide venues for presenting innovations and trends. For an
organizer of trade fairs and exhibitions, such as Messe Frankfurt, it is very important to be able
to ensure effective legal recourse against any brand and product piracy.
In its brochure titled “Protection against brand and product piracy,” Messe Frankfurt states
that it “takes the protection of intellectual property rights very seriously. It is the first
exhibition company worldwide to have launched an initiative against brand and product piracy:
‘Messe Frankfurt against Copying.’ Moreover, it has incorporated a product piracy clause into its
General Terms & Conditions, banned the taking of photographs and offers assistance in the
uncompromising enforcement of intellectual property rights [IPR], thereby creating a fair business
environment in which imitators do not stand a chance.”
However, as Messe Frankfurt notes, “It is only the exhibitors themselves or their lawyers who
can take effective action against brand and product piracy based on industrial property law.” Its
brochure outlines the necessary steps for an exhibitor to fight against brand and product piracy.
The Fight Starts
In spite of all odds, another ITMA Asia CITME took place in 2010, and, frankly speaking, the
show was much better organized than the previous one. And, to the surprise of many Western
exhibitors and visitors, some Asian booths were shot down after a short time owing to IPR
As the Rupp Report has been informed, one company that successfully fought for its IPR rights
at ITMA Asia CITME 2010 was Italy-based Mesdan S.p.A. Established in 1952, Mesdan is a producer of
state-of-the-art yarn knotters and yarn splicers in both automatic and hand-operated versions. The
company reports its splicers are integrated into automatic winders from companies such as
Italy-based Savio S.p.A. and China-based Jingwei Group. Its many patents, logo marks and trademarks
are registered in numerous countries around the world, including China and India. According to
Mesdan, its yarn knotters and splicers and their spare parts have been attractive counterfeit
targets for the past two decades.
In 2009, Mesdan debuted its Spare Parts Authenticity Program to help it fight IPR
infringements. The program comprises barcoding to enable quick product traceability and
identification, and marking of crucial splicer parts with the Mesdan logo.
ITMA Asia – CITME 2010 organizers set up an IPR office, which handled 21 claims related to
IPR violations, of which eight were submitted by Mesdan for splicers and related spare parts.
According to Mesdan, the office examined the claims carefully, found them to be legitimate and
ordered eight exhibitors to remove the offending exhibits.
Mesdan reported: “This action couldn’t have been really achieved without an objective
assessment and the efficient assistance of the IPR office. Their professional behavior represents a
good example of China’s efforts to implement international standards and ‘no-tolerance’ rule in the
field of industrial intellectual property rights, copyrights and patents. We believe this
experience might bring optimism to machinery manufacturers and confirms that China IPR rules do
change at pace with its fast industry development.”
These changes are also confirmed by Germany-based nonwovens machinery manufacturer DiloGroup.
In an exclusive interview that will be published in the next issue of
, Owner and Chairman Johann-Philipp Dilo answered the question, “Can you protect your
products in Asia?” as follows:
“There is a main emphasis within the DiloGroup in the field of research and development
works, which frequently lead in inventions and are accompanied by patent applications in all
important markets. We have therefore shifted to holding Chinese patent applications too, because we
think that by now a well-operating patent culture is established that is working according to the
If you want to share your experience with IPR in Asia, please write to
October 5, 2010