3 Tips for IPR Complaints at SEMA

The SEMA show is one of the best places to showcase your new product to the brightest minds and the greatest enthusiast in the automotive industry. However, as is the case with any other major trade show, SEMA can also be a place where innovators clash over intellectual property rights. It is not uncommon for an entrepreneur to see a knock-off of their product on a trade show. On the other hand, it isn’t unusual for a producer to be targeted by an IP complaint either.

SEMA has policies and procedures in place that allow exhibitors to file IP complaints if they believe that another participant of the show is infringing their intellectual property rights with a product they’re displaying. In this blog, we will provide a short overview of steps you can take if you find yourself a target of an IP complaint at the SEMA show.

Bring Appropriate IP Documentation 

When one exhibitor suspects that another exhibitor’s product violates their intellectual property, they need to file a complaint form with the Show Management Office. Such a complaint must be supported with appropriate documentation that proves that the party is in possession of valid IP such as a patent, trademark and so on. 

When such a complaint is filed, SEMA will open an investigation into a possible IP violation. As a part of this investigation, SEMA may review your display and products. What they will definitely want to review, however, is any IP documentation that may prove you have full intellectual property rights to the product your exhibiting. If your documentation is solid, SEMA will likely resolve the claim in your favor. 

In order to protect yourself from unsubstantiated complaints, it also important to remember to follow SEMA’s IP Rights Policy advice which encourages exhibitors to affirm their rights “by properly marking their products with appropriate notices, such as trademark symbols, copyright symbols and, where practicable, patent numbers.”

Don’t Allow the Complainant to Harass You 

It is important to remember that you are not required to take any action until SEMA conducts and conclude the investigation. Therefore, do not allow other exhibitors to intimidate you or threaten you with legal action, especially if your IP documentation is solid. In fact, according to SEMA’s own IP Rights Policy, it is prohibited for the complainant to “enter or loiter around the booth of the other party, harass or antagonize the other party or remove anything from any exhibitor’s booth.”

Consult Your Lawyer Immediately

There are many factors to consider when you are the target of an IP complaint at SEMA. Before taking any steps, it is advisable to consult your trusted IP attorney to choose the best course of action for your company and your product. However, if you’d like to fully benefit from your attorney’s expertise immediately when an issue arises, you need to register them under your exhibiting company’s name.

BRADFORD, LTD. is a team of experienced IP attorneys who are ready to come to your assistance and help you protect your intellectual property – at SEMA and beyond. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and obtain the professional advice you need.

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Bradford LTD specializes in IP protections and maximization for startups and small businesses. We also provide scaled legal services to our clients, including fractional legal counsel and value-based rates. From trademark, copyright and service mark protections to patent protection and outside inside counsel, we help position entrepreneurs and owners for long-term success.

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