March 16, 2012

“WATCH OUT FOR IMITATIONS!” Stephen Welfare, Partner, reports back from Baselworld, Switzerland

As big and glamorous as ever; Baselworld showcased the top end market in quality time pieces and fine jewellery.  Tradition counts for a lot in Switzerland with famous brands such as Rolex, Bulova, Versace and Tissot to the fore as ever, but it is not just Europe that provides luxury goods of course.  Baselworld 2012 has exhibitors from across the world, in keeping with the global market of today.

The show is located in Central Europe but this was no European affair, with 1815 exhibitors from a total of 41 countries.  The number of visitors has been estimated at around 100,000 from 100 countries.  Interest in attracting buyers from Asia, in particular Hong Kong, was very notable.

Last month I attended the Jewellery Trade Fair in Hong Kong Please Follow Link and I commented on the purchasing power of the Chinese.  There can be no doubt about the increase in significance of Hong Kong in the luxury goods industry.  In 2011 Hong Kong welcomed more than 28 million visitors from mainland China, with spending set to exceed US $32 billion, an increase of 21% on 2010.

Taking your luxury goods to that market has to be a strategic objective for every European manufacturer.  Royds’ client, Rotary Watches, understands this.  Robert Dreyfuss, Group Chairman, has been quoted as saying “For 2012, our goal is to launch in Hong Kong, China and Macau …For China, we are doing our research here at Baselworld and meeting the relevant people.  After the show, we will assess our findings and decide who to work with.”

Baselworld is where you find the best in luxury jewellery, as well as watches.  There is exhibited quality of design and the finest quality of craftsmanship.

With such luxury goods comes an expected guarantee of exclusivity and originality in the designs.  Buyers, on behalf of their discerning consumers, demand the highest integrity in the brand.  It was a serious issue therefore when my client, David Marshall, saw a copy of one of his bespoke necklace designs being exhibited on a stand of a company he had not heard of.

David telephoned me and I was able to prepare the documents to take with me to the show, and pay a visit to the offenders.  In the event I secured a written undertaking to remove the copy from display and not to sell, or offer it for sale thereafter.

There isn’t anything like the proliferation of copy products on display at International Trade Fairs that I observed 10 years ago, but even at prestigious luxury goods shows such as Baselworld, plagiarism exists and the need for Intellectual Property Rights protection remains.  Designers must remain vigilant so watch it!

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