Step 6 – Exhibits and trade fair stands

Selecting the exhibits

Selecting the exhibits

Exhibitors can determine the range of products they intend to exhibit by answering the following questions:

  • Which products are really NEW?

  • What changes have been made and are they superior to those of the competition?

  • Should the entire range of products be presented or only a selection?

  • Which products are a must?

  • What attributes should be highlighted?

  • Which product is most suited to the target audience’s future needs?

  • Have current technical and energy-saving trends been taken into account?

  • Regarding styling, colours and packaging: have the correct choices been made?

  • Should a model go on show designed especially for the fair?

  • What messages should banners, displays and videos carry?

  • Is it possible to demonstrate products’ in real life situations?

  • Is energy required (electricity, gas, compressed air)?

  • How much space do the demonstrations need?

The exhibits chosen will determine the amount of space required and the concept of the stand.

Fake products at German trade fairs

Fake products at German trade fairs

Trade fairs mirror the market situation and focus on the range of products and services that an industry has to offer. Thus, trade fairs provide a comprehensive overview for visitors and exhibitors alike. No other type of event makes it so easy to compare one’s own products with those of competitors. Hence it is not surprising that trade fairs are where exhibitors often find out about fake products that copy their own.

When is copying against the law?

In Germany the basic principle is that copying is allowed. It means that in principle anyone may copy a third-party product, method or trademark. Only the owner of special proprietary rights may forbid third parties to make copies and to commercially exploit his proprietary product or trademark. Besides prohibiting the act of copying an owner of proprietary rights may also forbid third parties to offer copies for sale or to promote such sales. Furthermore, he may demand that a copier desist from infringing his proprietary rights and also demand compensation for goods already sold. He has a right to information on the origin of the products and may even require that any remaining products be destroyed.

What are proprietary rights?

Proprietary rights also include patents. These are issued for inventions, which must be new, the result of an innovative process and be commercially exploitable. A patent gives its inventor the right to forbid others to use, produce, sell or import an invention for a specified period of time. In return an inventor must make the details of his invention public in open letters patent. Utility patents: as with a patent, in order to apply for a utility patent the object in question must be new, based on an innovative process and be commercially exploitable. It is quicker and cheaper to register a utility patent than a patent. However, no investigation takes place as to whether the object in question is new or based on an innovative process. For this reason a utility patent may represent a quasi-right that cannot be upheld in the event of a legal challenge.

Trademarks: any characters, in particular words, images or presentations used to distinguish the goods or services of a company from those of other companies may be afforded proprietary rights. Registered designs: Registered designs protect the colour scheme and design of industrial and artisanal products.

At many trade fairs in Germany, a so-called exhibition priority can be claimed for utility models, brands and registered designs. If an exhibitor receives industrial property rights from DPMA for one of his or her exhibits after one of these trade fairs, the DPMA will consider the property rights valid starting on the first trade fair day. In this case, the DPMA requires an exhibition certificate issued at the beginning of the trade fair from the management as well as the registration documents. The registration of the property rights within six months following the first exhibition constitutes a further requirement. The affected trade fairs will be regularly published in the German Federal Law Gazette.

What can I do before the fair begins?

You can take action in the run-up to a fair in order to avoid unpleasant surprises later. First of all you should get in touch with a lawyer. In order to effectively protect a product or trademark against imitation you must own the proprietary rights. You should bring all the documents along to the fair that prove you own the proprietary rights, e.g. originals or certified copies of the certificate in question and if applicable any previously issued declarations of discontinuance or orders issued against an imitator. Also make sure you can get in touch with a lawyer, if necessary on a weekend, at the event venue.

If you possess concrete information that a competitor intends to exhibit copies of your protected products then you can apply for a seizure attachment to be issued before the fair begins. This attachment authorises customs officials to seize goods in breach of proprietary rights even after they have crossed national borders.

What can I do during the fair?

If you find out that copies of your proprietary products are being exhibited at the fair, you can at first and with the help of a lawyer issue the offending party with a notice and offer him to sign a declaration of discontinuance subject to payment of a penalty. If the party in question refuses to sign the declaration you can take out an injunction forbidding him to exhibit the products that infringe your proprietary rights.

What can I do if I have no proprietary rights?

In exceptional cases copying goods may contravene the rules of the Law against Unfair Practices even if the relevant proprietary rights do not exist. For this to be the case the company in question must copy a competitor’s product with competitive attributes and offer it for sale on the market. Furthermore, exceptional circumstances must apply in order for said company’s practices to be considered unfair. Only if such conditions are met is the basic principle that permits copying negated by the legal protection afforded by competition rights.

What can trade fair organisers do?

Trade fair organisers in Germany will gladly help to ensure your participation is a success. It is important that you inform the organisers before any legal conflicts ensue on the exhibition grounds, so that in the event of a legal challenge they have a chance to act as mediator. However, the organisers cannot assert your rights in respect of third parties, as they are not the owners of the proprietary rights. Consequently, and as a matter of principle, in the absence of an executory title they are not authorised to close down an exhibitor’s stand.

For more information:

Supporting programme

Supporting programme

A number of trade fairs feature programmes allowing exhibitors to make company presentations on certain products and methods. These must be registered in advance. Some lecture slots are free of charge while in other cases charges apply.

Organisers provide a lecture area and a moderator and also promote and introduce these events. Companies can also take part with their exhibits in specially organised themed shows. The organisation of these special shows is usually carried out separately by non-commercial sponsors.

Trade fair stands

Trade fair stands

A trade fair stand is a company’s calling card. Its dimensions and design should reflect a company’s market standing and the products it is exhibiting.

The focus should be on a customer-friendly presentation of the exhibits. A trade fair stand should appeal to the visitor’s senses in every way.

A trade fair stand

  • can impress your visitors without being pretentious

  • can be modest without looking cheap

  • can be inviting without being insistent

  • can be matter-of-fact without being standoffish

  • can put on a show without being an amusement park

Area of Operation

Different areas

Every stand, regardless of its size, is divided up into three areas which dictate its overall dimensions.

  • presentation area
    the entire space required for exhibits, information boards, videos, presentations and activities

  • meeting areas
    seating areas, cubicles or an appropriate area for consultations

  • Ancillary areas
    kitchen, storage area (including for brochures), cloakroom, technical area, staff area, an office

Types of stand and location

Types of stand

Row stands are cheapest to rent, while the other three types cost more.

  • Row stand
    Row stands open onto the aisle and have two neighbouring stands, in rare cases parallel aisles on either side.

  • Corner stand

  • Corner stands
    Corner stands are located at the end of a row and open onto two aisles which meet at the corner. A corner stand achieves a greater impact than a row stand of the same size, due to an additional side opening onto the aisles.

  • End of block stand
    End of block stands open onto three aisles and if used to full effect have a greater impact than the above stands by appearing welcoming and possessing greater prestige.

  • Island stand or block stand
    Island stands are surrounded by aisles on all sides and are the most expensive type of stand. Their insular nature achieves a high impact.

  • Outdoor stand
    Outdoor stands are chosen for very large products (e.g. natural stone blocks) or for entire systems and machines (construction equipment) which have to be demonstrated in a practical setting.

Location of the stand

The planning of the hall layout (stand areas and aisles) by the organisers takes the technical infrastructure, anticipated visitors numbers (width of the aisles) and the flow of visitor traffic into account.

The organisers lay down stand location criteria according to:

  • the layout of the grounds and the halls

  • the individual sections for different industries and products

  • the infrastructure

Prior to the fair exhibitors can agree on an exact stand position with the organisers in terms of the stand location in the hall and neighbouring stands (competitors). Exhibitors can usually obtain the same location at the next event if they reserve this option at the end of the fair.

Types of stand

Stand construction

Stand construction

Exhibitors must plan their trade fair stand according to their trade fair objectives, the products they wish to display, the space they require and their available budget.

They must decide on the following:

  • whether to rent, lease or purchase a stand

  • the stand layout

  • whether to build their own stand or employ contractors

  • an implementation phase

Renting a stand is a good option for a company taking part for the first time. Once a company has gained sufficient experience and decides to regularly take part in trade fairs then it can consider leasing or purchasing. Renting a stand is the option that involves the least organisational effort.

Modular stands in different sizes and with basic furnishings, to which one’s own or other rented furniture can be added, are available for rent either from the organisers or from contracted firms. The rental fees include construction and dismantling.

Stand architecture

Stand architecture

As the presentation and meeting areas are the only parts visible to visitors, the exterior design concept focuses mainly on these two areas.

It should be noted that a visitor takes four steps before engaging in a conversation:

  • he orientates himself
  • he obtains information
  • he asks for something to be shown or demonstrated
  • he engages in a conversation

Regarding the stand concept that means:

  • a trade fair stand must provide the visitor with a key for orientating himself. He must be able to quickly establish which areas present which products.
  • A visitor must connect with a flow of verbal and visual information presented to him that offers clear and precise statements.
  • The exhibits provide a visual input per se, so that getting to know the products’ advantages must surpass the impact of that input and lead directly to a dialogue.
  • The resultant face-to-face meeting must round off the image of a product and that of a company’s capabilities and help a visitor to make his purchase decision.

Stand design and furnishings

Stand design and furnishings

The design of the stand guarantees the company's unmistakable optics. Visual impressions are the primary source of information. Whether a visitor looks at a product or lettering, it is the immediate visual impression that counts before he examines the detail. Anyone presenting, offering or promoting a product must make it is visible.

Presenting the exhibits

Every product must be highlighted in the appropriate way. The more attractive the presentation of a product the more attention it attracts from visitors. It is better to exhibit quality rather than quantity. The most important thing is to highlight its advantages for the user. An exhibitor must look at the way he presents a product from the visitor's point of view.


The furniture a company chooses for its presentation and meeting areas should be appropriate in terms of appearance, colour and quality.


Lighting forms part of the overall stand concept. A distinction is made between general lighting on the stand (meeting area and ancillary area) and lighting used for objects (presentation area). Using lighting effects creates an additional attraction.

Graphic design and information tools

Graphic design and information tools

The colours and graphically displayed information that create a visual impression are an integral part of the stand’s design.

A visitor should be able to find the stand he is looking for as quickly as possible. In addition to the size and location of the stand the positioning of a company’s logo and the use of its typical colours help visitors to detect the stand from a long distance.

Stand construction and dismantling

The exterior design, location, overall design and technical equipment of the stand and the products exhibited dictate dismantling and construction procedures and the related costs.

A member of the company who has experience with trade fairs should oversee the construction of the stand by in-house personnel or a contractor to make sure costs and dates are adhered to.

As a rule, no further alterations should be made when setting up the exhibits, nor should equipment be assembled and tested for the first time on the stand. A trade fair stand is not a test laboratory, production facility or place to make last-minute changes.

The time available for dismantling is often limited due to other events which are scheduled to follow. For this reason clearing one’s rented stand needs to be organised properly.

Environmental sustainability

Environmental sustainability

Committing to environmentally sustainable action does not mean that one should dispense with an individual and creative stand. However, it means that one must plan ahead. A company can obtain the stand it wants by cooperating with a trade fair stand designer qualified to plan and develop eco-friendly designs.

It is important to:

  • consult with suitable stand construction companies

  • ensure the design and prefabricated parts are well made

  • use modular construction for conventional and individually designed stands

  • employ reusable, space-saving transport systems

  • organise and make use of storage areas for packaging used in transit

  • compare rental and purchase options from an economic and ecological point of view