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Event formatting

Organization of events is a complex and multi-stage activity and in case of a high level of ingenuity and originality events may become much more than just a one-off occasion.

Licensing of ready-made, fully developed concepts of events which have become popular abroad have a good chance of achieving international success, enabling their authors and producers to expect additional profits from licencing them for new markets, thus strengthening their brand and increasing future value. The purpose of this article is to indicate prospective strategies which organizers may employ to protect themselves against unfair competition and secure their intellectual property rights.

Methods of protection

The event concept may contain a wide range of elements which may not be protected on standalone basis, but as a combination lead to creating an original work which may be the object of such protection. „Formatting” an event, that is distinguishing all its characteristic elements and combining them in a systematic way, is what makes it a unique structure, so distinct from other occurrences that an event becomes a work. The elements of an event which may become the components of a specific format may include those which will be easiest to cover by copyright protection: the script, the set, multimedia and lighting. However, in order for an event to be recognized as a work it must have an individual, distinctive character. This means that a simple event idea, such as a show held according to a pre-set scenario, in which successive presentations of goods or services taking place one after another are interspersed with artistic performances, or a prize giving ceremony in a competition, even in the context of music or a set specially designed for that purpose, does not grant the organiser a monopoly for such a concept. It is necessary to realise that some solutions are naturally inherent in a given genre, and as such cannot be protected by copyright. No author can have exclusive rights to use general scenes of this type in the events they organise.

Protective strategies
However, if the event we plan possesses all the elements needed to capture the masses and defeat competition we need to immediately start working on a strategy to protect the event concept and implement it. First of all, the event organizers ought to start building the brand of their event by registering the trademark in many jurisdictions for the name of their event and other distinctive, characteristic phrases. it. At the same time it is necessary to remember about protecting the know-how of the event and production, about confidentiality agreements (NDAs), providing information on “need to know basis” also in relation to subcontractors. Event organizers may also employ additional protection by entering into agreements which contain a broad description of the relationships between the parties, ensuring exclusivity in the execution of subsequent editions. This may apply to artists, performers as well as sponsors and partners of the event. Organizers should also make sure that the agreements contain non-competition clauses preventing competitors from taking over persons valuable for the event.

A Biblical event
A useful solution from the point of view of the event sector is collecting all the information regarding the event concept in a so called Format Bible, which will support its protection in two ways. First of all, it will be a valuable reference for potential licensees interested in acquiring rights to use the event format, and as well as a method of discouraging other potential authors from copying our solutions. This is why the Format Bible should be drawn up already at the first stages of organization. Secondly, if legal action is required, the Bible may be used as evidence of creativity and the originality of our concept. It may serve as a key argument in support of the claim that the event concept we developed ought to be protected by copyright as a creative, unique work. When implementing the above protective measures it is also worthwhile to use the services of experienced advisors to assist in developing active protective strategies for valuable intellectual property.

Article published in „Think MICE”.


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