Injunction issued against the organisers of ITB India

Fairfest Media's appeal on breach of non-disclosure agreement by Messe Berlin

News - India Outbound

December 2, 2019

/ By / Kolkata



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An injunction has been passed against Messe Berlin, the organisers of ITB India. Messe Berlin is the organiser of top global travel show ITB Berlin. The tension was brewing for months, especially when Messe Berlin launched its India edition named ITB India in Mumbai, back to back with India’s top outbound travel show OTM in Mumbai.

The 100 per cent Indian ownership company Fairfest Media is leading the travel exhibition industry as the pioneer since 1989 with OTM in Mumbai and TTF (Travel & Tourism Fair) in 10 cities across the country. It was no wonder any international player would want to partner with them.

But to everyone’s shock when the German state-owned company Messe Berlin left the partnership discussions midway and launched their own show, they were already privy to all the critical industry data and information supplied by Fairfest Media for a broader partnership, according to Fairfest sources. It left Fairfest Media with the only option to take a legal route and appeal to the court for breach of an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), for the proposed collaboration. According to Fairfest sources, an injunction order has been passed against Messe Berlin.

Fairfest Media approached the High Court of Bombay earlier this year, for an injunction against Messe Berlin, to restrain it from using confidential information including client details shared with them in confidence. They asked for an injunction to restrain Messe Berlin from conducting ITB India, as it would inevitably benefit from the competitive and confidential information shared under the terms of the NDA.

Speaking exclusively to India Outbound magazine, a Fairfest spokesperson commented, “I believe if you want to enter a market while playing by the rules, you are not supposed to know and misuse the secrets of an established player in that market.” Since the matter is under the court’s jurisdiction he refrained from any comment on the case and India Outbound would also like to not push any further at the moment.

India Outbound magazine contacted Messe Berlin over email asking for their official statement and the response came from the top. “We are given to understand that Fairfest is attempting to create a false impression that perhaps there is an interim order restraining Messe Berlin from organising the travel trade show – ITB India. It is our duty at Messe Berlin to correct this wrong impression. The Sole Arbitrator vide its interim order allowed Messe Berlin to conduct ITB India in April 2020,” wrote Katrina Leung, the managing director of Messe Berlin (Singapore) Pte Ltd to this author in the email.

However, Fairfest’s statements do not claim shutting down of ITB India at this stage.

ITB India launch announcement

ITB India 2020 launch announcement 

 

OTM Mumbai bird's eye view

OTM Mumbai bird’s eye view

According to Fairfest, the High Court of Bombay referred the matter to a sole Arbitrator, who after hearing detailed arguments from both the sides, issued injunction orders restraining Messe Berlin from using the confidential information.  The Arbitrator ruled in favour of Fairfest Media and restrained Messe Berlin from using the confidential information it obtained from Fairfest.

Messe Berlin had challenged the jurisdiction of the Arbitrator. The Arbitrator ruled that it had jurisdiction on issues related to the breach of NDA. The Arbitrator also ruled that it did not deal with the issues related to copyright/trademark and further confidential information obtained by Messe Berlin under a Letter of Intent (LOI) executed later to the NDA, which specifically designated Singapore as the jurisdiction. Fairfest is, however, considering additional litigation to address the above, at appropriate forums in Singapore and in India, for further injunctions and claims for damages in respect of the breach of the terms of the LOI.

The Arbitrator has also ordered Messe Berlin to pay costs to Fairfest Media.

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