Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘Intellectual Property’

Mi Design NOT Su Design: Word on the Street — June 22nd thru June 26th

June 26th, 2015 2 COMMENTS
Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Intellectual Property

Protecting your Intellectual Property is nothing new (IP). Companies of all sizes are faced with companies (and governments) stealing their designs and ideas. Some folks view it as a way of doing business — leveraging the work of others for their own professional gain or sales. I once attended a business symposium, and the featured speaker of a Fortune 1000 company blatantly said his company doesn’t invest in R&D. They borrow the work of others. It was shocking to hear.

While some of our biggest challenges come from offshore companies trolling our corporate websites and blog posts to steal our images and ideas, it stings the most when it happens stateside.

Sadly, our industry is not shielded from these unethical practices within our own ranks. As a proud member of the EDPA Board of Directors, I can attest that protecting design IP has been a hot topic for many years. As a group, the EDPA-member companies do a good job for the most part honoring that unwritten rule.

Recently, a Classic distributor was presented with a competitor’s rendering by an end-user and asked to quote the design. The Classic Distributor explained to the end-user that they, along with their manufacturer (Classic in the case), do not partake in the practice of leveraging someone else’s hard work in design. Rather, they would sit down with them, determine their tradeshow marketing needs, and design a version that would meet their needs perfectly.

The client was delighted that the distributor and the manufacturer held that philosophy. Something the end-user was not used to seeing in their own industry.

Closer to Home


Having said that, we all fight these battles each and every day. Domestically and abroad. But it’s the ones closest to home that ave the most sting. An unfortunate example of that happened just this week for us. One of our talented designers put a great deal of work into designing a beautiful linear exhibit for a distributor and their potential customer several months ago. Fast forward to this week, when we saw a LinkedIn update highlighting a beautiful new build. Sadly, it was the very same design but built by some company other than Classic. We don’t know who built it, but we know who sold it, which makes it even more painful since we’ve known them for some time.

Don’t get me wrong. I know there are a lot of “kits” that can look similar from manufacturer to manufacturer. I totally get that. But when it comes to a “ground-up design,” you would hope, as we do, that some integrity would be left in the process.

Even in a stronger economy, when the fruits are fresher than they have been in sometime, there are still those companies more than willing to eat from other people’s plates.

Can anything be done about this on a large scale? Probably not. But I go back to the first example, the one where the Distributor explained to the end-user their ethical stance on the matters of protecting others IP… and still won the business.

How do you protect your designs beyond branding them with your company logos etc.?

It’s an age old question I suppose. But would appreciate your comments and feedback

On a lighter note, this June has been a HOT one! For sales and for weather. We greatly appreciate all the orders, large and small, and the opportunities sent our way. Just a reminder about our Gimme a GiftCard promotion on all inlines. Plus, as I’m sure you saw, we just launched a 100-Day Guarantee on the Sacagawea Hybrid System — An Industry FIRST.

Have a great weekend with your families and a strong work week ahead. July 4th is on the horizon.

Be well.



Ghouls… Goblins… and CyberThieves!: Word on the Street — October 20th thru October 24th

October 25th, 2014 2 COMMENTS
Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Fall is here. The leaves are turning in the Pacific NW, the rain has arrived, and the temperature has dropped. All signs that Halloween is just around the corner.

Recently, I went on a family vacation to Disneyland in California. We spent the entire first week of October there. Part of the reason we went was that Disneyland does a Halloween Party 2-3 times a week during October. It was fun. All the kids and all the adults got dressed up in costumes, all “Disney-Safe” and fairly wholesome for the most part. Pirates, Ninjas, and more Princesses than you could ever imagine. But not criminals…or thieves.

Intellectual Property

Which brings me to the real reason for this post.

In business, we all rely heavily on our Intellectual Property. It’s the fruit of our hard work and the root of what ”Shared Success” is all about at Classic Exhibits and our proud Distributor Network.

We take great pride in and go to great lengths to make our shared IP available to Authorized Classic Exhibits Distributors. That IP, in part, includes our designs and our Exhibit Design Search images, along with our patented products.

Recently, we were directed to a website for an online exhibit company based in Southern California. We were informed that the online company was using our images, along with Classic kit numbers.

large-2014-031314 SEG 10x10_a

VK-1118 Portable Hybrid Exhibit

When I went to the site, I honestly saw something that I never expected to see. Entire galleries, splash page images, detail pages, text, etc. that had been stolen from either the Classic Exhibits EDS or from one of our trusted Classic Distributor Branded EDS sites. It was more than shocking. Mainly because there was not so much as a tiny bit of effort to hide the fact that they stole the images… even the text that indicated they were an authorized Classic Distributor. We have seen this before from overseas websites, but they were smart enough to only choose a dozen or so designs. Just enough to give the website “exhibit design credibility.”

You might think that is the worst of it…but there is more.  We also found, after receiving a call from an end-user, that they were selling exhibits as “Classic Exhibits built displays,” but delivering cobbled together versions using various products on the market, none of which were from Classic Exhibits. In one case, a client was so shocked by the abysmal quality that they called us to complain. In response, we did two things:  1. We explained to them that their display was not manufactured by Classic, and 2. We replaced the exhibit at our expense.


While my wish would be to share the link with you, there is a legal progress that prevents me from doing so. But I did want you to know. Often this happens under the radar. But unethical people who lack creativity often become cyberthieves willing to take your hard work and use it to line their pockets.

We all know that websites can present a much different company than really exists at the street address on their contact pages. And in this case, what appears to be a real professional business was nothing more than a thief with a laptop, mouse, and PayPal account. Sadly, this business has been operating “legitimately” in our industry in various forms for over 20 years. Truly a “trick” experience for unsuspecting customers.

I hope you and your families have a great and safe Halloween this coming Friday.

May the fall business rush continue. Be well.