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IP Protection at Fairs and Exhibitions


Trade fairs are an excellent opportunity for European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to access new customers, learn about the local market and showcase their products and services, as well as being a great environment for establishing new business contacts.


According to the Spanish Trade Fair Association (AFE) (, trade fairs are one of the most useful and probably the most cost-effective tools in modern marketing. In Spain alone, around 600 events of this nature are held each year, of which around 400 are held by AFE members. The most prominent sectors are: leisure, food, education, engineering and machinery, agriculture, fashion and footwear.


There are many reasons why it is important for SMEs to exhibit at trade fairs, including the following:


  • Contribute to reinforcing the company’s image: They reinforce a certain trademark image in the most economical and efficient way, which helps to gain market share.


  • Get immediate feedback : By communicating directly with the buyer, the seller can get feedback on new products introduced in the market, as well as obtain information for improvements to existing products.


  • Establish new business contacts: As well as new customers, sellers can also attract new partners such as suppliers, subcontractors, representatives, importers and distributors.


  • Identify potential competitors and information about their products: In this way, sellers can get a feel for the market and learn about current and future trends.


  • Generate export opportunities: Trade fairs provide access to the international market at the best price and constitute a real platform in the internationalisation strategy of companies.


However, it should be noted that, in some cases, it also means exposing your company to certain risks, such as counterfeiting and piracy of new products. Careful preparation is therefore essential, which often involves a heavy investment in time and other resources.


In the field of industrial property rights (IPR), it is necessary to have the right protection and enforcement strategy in place. In this regard, you should be aware of the most common scenarios you may face at a trade fair:


  • Your IPRs are not duly protected and are exploited (with or without registration) by other persons. In this sense, it could be the case that fair attendees protect a technology or design exhibited at a fair whose inventor, developer or creator had not previously protected it via a patent or industrial design.


  • Your IPRs are properly protected and you detect infringements. These could include the use of your trademark on counterfeit products or the unauthorised use of your trademark to promote another product.


To  avoid unnecessary damage and costs when attending a trade fair in Spain, we recommend that you carry out a series of actions, which are detailed in the following brochures: