February 19, 2013 Articles

Policing Trade Shows to Stop Knockoff Products

Monitoring foreign companies for infringement is a key part of protecting your copyrights and trademarks.

By Steven A. Weiss and William B. Berndt

U.S. companies face a growing threat to their intellectual property from knockoff products manufactured abroad. Foreign companies looking to make inroads in the U.S. market sell identical or close copies of domestic products at greatly reduced prices. High-profile knockoff items include copies of fashion merchandise, consumer electronics products such as Apple’s iPhone and iPad, and designer handbags. See, e.g.Gucci America, Inc. v. Daffy’s Inc., 354 F.3d 228 (3d Cir. 2003) (handbags). In addition to consumer goods, foreign manufacturers copy industrial parts or other products that are not sold through retailers but are marketed on a “business to business” basis, frequently at conventions and trade shows. Foreign companies attend trade shows in the United States to demonstrate their products and distribute catalogs to U.S. businesses, and then retreat home where they are not as susceptible to U.S. copyright laws.

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