At this year’s Paperworld show in Frankfurt, Austrian manufacturer Colop enforced a judicial ruling to remove products it claimed were copies from the stand of Taiwanese manufacturer Shiny Stamp.
When Taiwan-based Sun Same Enterprises set up a collection of Shiny Printer stamps at the stand of its French agency TMP (Timbres et Machines de Précision Sarl), it could not have expected the commotion that its products would cause.
On the first day of the exhibition, Austria-based Colop, along with a patent lawyer, was already taking initial steps to legally remove some of the Shiny Printer stamps that it claimed had "profaned" its Colop Printer stamp by copying the patented idea of the large window "almost identically".
"The topic of counterfeit or copied products is becoming more and more a nuisance for brand-manufacturers like Colop and this year during Paperworld 2006 we had to face a competitor who copied our most important product – the Colop Printer," Gerald Binder, spokesperson for Colop told OPI. "But it was encouraging that we were able to set legal steps against this competitor and above all that we were able to do this during the fair."
By the Friday (27 January), a court executor had enforced a judicial ruling to remove the infringing products together with the surrounding materials and catalogues from the TMP/Shiny stand.
A banner, on which large letters read "new to the world", was also taken away from Shiny’s stand. All confiscated material was destroyed on the spot.
In response to the action, Shiny said it has "always made it a practice to follow all relevant patent rights regulations and grant the greatest respect to our industry colleagues", and claimed it was "not the first vendor to make a similar large image window." The company added to OPI that it "respected Colop’s actions and the court’s judgement".
"We admit our oversight in this particular instance and reiterate that any breach of relevant patents was unintentional," said a company spokesperson. "We are especially troubled by this incident and are currently in consultation with our legal advisers regarding an appropriate solution…We are confident of achieving a swift and fair resolution.
"In the future, in consultation with legal counsel, we will take additional steps to ensure all relevant patent laws and regulations, including those of the EU, are strictly followed," said the spokesperson, adding: "It is unfortunate that the term ‘counterfeit’ has come into play here."
As a result of the court ruling, the infringing Shiny products will not be allowed to be marketed in a large number of European countries.
Commenting on the effects of the episode, Shiny added: "While some damage is to be expected, we believe our admission of error and concerted efforts to redress the issue will minimise any long-term harm to the brand." The company apologised "for any inconvenience to exhibition visitors, exhibitors and the organisers of Paperworld this episode may have caused".