Baselworld Panel: The Show's Arbitration Board

Published on 3/23/2016 by Christoph Spangenberg

For more than 30 years, the MCH Group and the Baselworld Watch and Jewellery Show have been campaigning successfully for the protection of intellectual property and have been supporting the fight against imitations and counterfeits. In 1985, they took a step unparalleled anywhere else in the world to help achieve these aims: they created the Baselworld Panel.

Baselworld Panel (MCH Group) 

The Panel is an arbitration board within the show itself and is comprised of legal experts and international experts from the watch and jewellery sector. It only exists for the duration of the show and only becomes active if corresponding complaints arise. Any exhibitor, or even non-exhibitor, can complain if they fear that the presentation of an object at the show infringes their intellectual-property rights that are protected in Switzerland. These include the rights to a design, a trade mark, an appellation of origin or a work protected by copyright.

A decision is issued within 24 hours

The panel might, for instance, be contacted if an exhibitor is selling a watch that, in overall terms, looks confusingly similar to another watch. After the panel has clarified the legal situation and conducted a comparison of the protected object and the alleged imitation, the panel takes its decision within 24 hours and submits its reasons in writing. This decision states whether the exhibitor in question has to withdraw the product that has been complained about from the show or not. In the event of a serious, repeated violation,the Panel can also recommend that the show management take further measures, such as refusing admission to future shows.

Landmark decisions outside the show too

The Panel is held in high regard. In 2010, the Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group (GACG) awarded it the GACG Award 2010 – the so-called "Trophée de l'Authentique". Christoph Lanz, Head of the Legal Service at the MCH Group, is the Panel Secretary and is also much in demand as an expert in imitations and counterfeits in specialist circles. The panel's decisions often point the way for rulings in the courts outside of the show period.

Marked reduction in the number of complaints

The panel was set up in 1985. At the start of the 1980s, Baselworld had opened its doors more for exhibitors from the Far East, the outcome of which was that increasing numbers of counterfeits and imitations appeared in the exhibition halls. Since its inception, the panel has processed more than 800 cases. The number of complaints per show has fallen steeply over the past few years. Some ten to 15 complaints are received each year, involving highly complex questions in some cases. This is a very small figure considering that there are more than 1500 exhibitors present and many, many thousands of objects on display.

More information on the Panel.

Christoph Spangenberg

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