Italy’s Show War Turns into Legal Battle
VERONA/PADOVA, Italy – The fierce competition between the Italian bicycle shows CosmoBike and ExpoBici has turned a legal fight. Paolo Coin, former CEO of PadovaFiere SpA together with two other previous Expobici employees are under investigation. Their computers and private e-mail correspondence have been seized by the Italian Police.
The fight between CosmoBike in Verona and ExpoBici in Padua starts to look like a real war with the battlefield moving from the trade fair pavilions to the courts. Following a complaint of PadovaFiere President Ferruccio Macula, the prosecutor of Venice District Attorney, opened an investigation to former PadovaFiere CEO Paolo Coin and two other employees early February.
Today the three are part of the CosmoBike show team at Veronafiere. After the search and seizure of their private computers and USB sticks they were charged with, “Unauthorized access to computer systems of PadovaFiere and the disclosure of professional secrecy.”
Disclosure of private e-mail
PadovaFiere SpA CEO Daniele Villa announced at a press conference last Friday, that the District Attorney authorized the disclosure of private e-mail correspondence between Paolo Coin and Diego Valsecchi, Commercial Manager of Veronafiere. Daniele Villa stated, “These e-mails prove that Paolo Coin masterminded the launch of a competing event in Verona while he was still legally bounded to PadovaFiere as Managing Director.” Villa declared that in one of these e-mails, “Valsecchi speaks about moving the exhibition product to Verona,” and stated that “PadovaFiere awaits the answer from Veronafiere President Ettore Riello.” Villa invited Veronafiere to cancel the CosmoBike show and to take a stand against the three ‘collaborators’.
Meanwhile CosmoBike disclosed a list of 300 exhibitors. Comparing this list with exhibitors of the 2014 edition of Expobici, 90% of the key companies in the bicycle industry would shift to Verona. Only Pinarello, De Rosa, Shimano Italy, Trek Italy, Santini and a few other reputed names are missing. Moreno Argentin, manager of the organizing committee of ExpoBici, objected that, “Some of these names are listed without the knowledge of the named companies.” “ExpoBici confirms a list of 125 exhibitors,” Villa concluded, but for reasons of company policy no names were revealed.
Verona press conference
In the afternoon Veronafiera also hold a press conference. During the event, Coin and Valsecchi rejected all charges. “We really have a list of 300 exhibitors and these are the facts. Only the names of those who have signed a contract were disclosed and listed,” they stated.
Paolo Coin declared, “PadovaFiere gave a biased and only partial look into my correspondence. I had contacts with competitors in the market. With the phrase ‘moving the exhibition product’ they are referring to a hypothetic opportunity that I checked and found unviable since my non-competition agreement was solid and binding. When I got fired and my agreement of non-competition was terminated by the PadovaFiere management, I started to look for a new project. Only then!”
“This is a free market,” stated Valsecchi. “When a professional show organizer becomes available we are ready to listen to him. In order to be able to ask Paolo Coin to organize a new bike show in Verona we had to wait for this opportunity. It only occurred when Coin’s non-competition agreement got out of the way. VeronaFiere always acts according to the law.”
To date none of the two bike shows is canceled. Expobici will be held September 19 to 21 in Padua and CosmoBike will take place from 11 to 14 September in Verona.