Product and brand piracy - a serious threat to the economy and consumers
Product and brand piracy is a lucrative business worth billions. It is proven that increasingly extremely low-quality counterfeits are being offered, that pose enormous safety risks. Clearly, plagiarisms and counterfeits are neither a compliment nor harmless trivialities. They are ruthless, destroy jobs and mean stagnation instead of diversity and progress. The damage caused by counterfeits to buyers and innovative manufacturers is massive. The explosive spread of product and brand piracy is encouraged by globalisation, online trade & digital communication - and by the specific demand of gullible (online) bargain hunters. Fact is, counterfeits are the opposite of a status symbol. It is the (personal) responsibility of every consumer to consciously and enthusiastically choose the original and thus deprive the counterfeiters of their basis for business.
Negative "Plagiarius" Award - Against brazen idea theft - For innovation and fair competition
Since 1977, the "Plagiarius" negative prize has been awarded annually at the Frankfurt "Ambiente" trade fair to manufacturers and dealers of particularly brazen plagiarisms and counterfeits. The award says nothing about whether a counterfeit product is legally permitted or illegal.
The aim of the Plagiarius campaign is rather to raise public awareness of the unscrupulous business methods of product and brand pirates and to sensitise industry, politics and consumers to the enormous damage and risks.
Trophy: A black dwarf with a golden nose - symbol of the immense profits that unimaginative imitators literally earn at the expense of creative people and industry.
The Museum Plagiarius in Solingen shows more than 350 Plagiarius award winners from a wide range of industries - in each case the original and the plagiarism in direct comparison.
Counterfeits mean standstill - the original stands for diversity and the future!
1. Prize - Glass series „DENK’ART“ (Champagne-, Universal-, Bordeaux- and Burgunderglass)
Left Originals: ZALTO Glas GmbH, Gmünd, Austria
Right Plagiarisms: Bayerische Glaswerke GmbH, Neustadt a.d. Waldnaab, Germany
In 2004, Zalto launched the "DENK'ART" glass series, which is popular with winegrowers, top gastronomy and consumers, and hand-blown according to traditional craftsmanship. In 2020, Bayerische Glaswerke GmbH presented its machine-made "Definition" glass series, which it says is based on two of its own older glass series. Neither company has applied for design protection. A lawsuit is currently pending between the renowned companies. Regardless of how the court decides with regard to possible unfair competitive behaviour, the jury found that the 4 glass types in the "Definition" glass series look confusingly similar to the 4 most successful glass types in the Zalto series and that fair competition between respected competitors looks different. In its statement before the jury meeting, Bayerische Glaswerke GmbH explicitly referred to "freedom of imitation" and denied that there is any legal or moral wrongdoing.
2. Prize - Playing Kit „LEGO Creator 10252 – VW Beetle”
Left Original: Volkswagen AG, Wolfsburg, Germany
Right Counterfeit: GDR-Trading BV, Meppel, The Netherlands
The iconic VW Beetle is protected throughout the EU as a 3D trade mark, meaning that the three-dimensional Beetle shape is a trade mark of its own. Self-evidently, Volkswagen has also protected the famous "VW in a circle" trade mark worldwide. In this case, both the Beetle 3D trade mark and the "VW in a circle" trade mark are infringed. In addition to the kit for the VW Beetle, GDR-Trading also offered other counterfeits via its online shops in Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands. The fakes were advertised with photos of the original kits and the claim "that the finished model looks true to the original". The counterfeits were delivered in plastic bags wrapped in bubble wrap. GDR has signed a cease-and-desist declaration and provided information on sales figures. Some of the counterfeits cost half the price of the original licence kits, which is reflected in the lack of stability and quality of the finished products.
3. Prize - CUBORO Marble Run „STANDARD 32“
(Educational game / learning method in schools / CUBORO championships)
Left Original: Cuboro AG, Bern, Switzerland
Right Plagiarism: Manufacturer of the “Easycool”-Plagiarisms (Distribution via taobao.com):
Zaozhuang Yike Electromechanical Equipment Co., Ltd., Shandong, PR China
The entire, multi-award-winning CUBORO marble run system consists of over 100 different elements. It trains fine motor skills, strengthens spatial imagination and stimulates creativity. Invented by Matthias Etter in the 1970s, CUBORO now inspires children and adults in more than 30 countries, including Asia. The original cubes are produced in a family carpentry workshop from certified "Swiss wood" from sustainably managed beech forests. All elements are pure natural products, chemically untreated. Concept theft: Easycool copies almost all CUBORO products, in some cases including packaging, photos, functional graphics, awards and designations of origin. They advertise the counterfeits as "compatible with CUBORO". Easycool has been trying to poach Cuboro's European dealers directly since 2023. The counterfeits cost 50% of the original.
Special Award „Online-Marketplace for Hyenas“ -
Cutlery-Set „KLIKK POCKET“ for on the go (3 pieces)
Middle: Originals: koziol »ideas for friends GmbH, Erbach, Germany
(1) TEMU.com, Whaleco Technology Limited, Ireland
(2) ALIBABA.com Singapore E-Commerce Private Limited, Singapore
(3) FRUUGO.com Limited, Great Britain
(Only) the Koziol original is robust, 100% recyclable and made in Germany. After SHEIN (Plagiarius 2022), countless dealers of cheap 1:1 copies of the design-award-winning Koziol reusable cutlery are now also allowed to spread out on TEMU, ALIBABA and FRUUGO and offer their inferior plagiarisms at knock-down prices. Although the offers are removed after reference is made to the EU-wide design protection for the cutlery, they are not actively and automatically prevented, despite knowledge of the property rights. It would be easy: all retailers use the same advertising texts and photos. It's like the "Groundhog Day" - a recurring annoyance. The major platform operators generously allow Chinese suppliers to get away with violations of general terms and conditions and fair trade, while neglecting their responsibility towards Western manufacturers and retailers. Theoretical promises and practice are still far apart.
Special Award „Creative Freeloader“ - T-shirt „PUMA“-Logo
Left Original: PUMA SE, Herzogenaurach, Germany
Right Counterfeit: Streetwall 68 GmbH, Wülfrath, Germany
The supposedly humorous alteration, which appears creative at first glance and may cause a brief smile, represents a serious infringement of the word/figurative mark for renowned brand manufacturers such as Puma. “PUMA" becomes "PUMBA" - the leaping wild cat becomes the leaping warthog Pumbaa from Walt Disney's "The Lion King". In fact, this parody copies all the key structural features of the Puma logo: the same font, the leaping animal. Due to the high recognition value of the well-known brand, the parody attracts attention that another Pumba depiction could not achieve. The good reputation of the well-known trade mark is being unfairly exploited. The Hamburg Regional Court also confirmed this and prohibited Streetwall from offering T-shirts in the EU with Pumba lettering and the outline of a warthog in a stretched jump.
Distinction - Sofa „PLANOPOLY MOTION 4.0 1926“
Left Original: himolla Polstermöbel GmbH, Taufkirchen (Vils), Germany
Right Plagiarism: Upholstered furniture manufacturer with headquarters and production in Poland
The "Model 1926" sofa from himolla, which is protected by a registered design, was launched in 2018 and quickly became a bestseller. The special features are the (then new) electrically height-adjustable headrests and the new design language with a pointed cushion look. In 2021, several imitations went on sale - this copy even imitated the curved metal feet. In its judgement against the Polish company, the Cologne Regional Court confirmed that the overall impression of both sofas was identical despite minimal differences. The imitator had to pay damages and remove remaining stock from the market. In principle, the density of upholstered furniture is an important indicator of the quality of the foam in the seat cushions and backrests. If the density is too low, this may have a negative impact on seating comfort, shape retention and product life.
Distinction - Garlic Press „Knobi King“
Left Original: Leifheit AG, Nassau, Germany
Distribution: HS Plus d.o.o., Trgovina in Storitve, Trzin, Slovenia
Manufacturer: Spatz Global Limited, Hong Kong, PR China
Leifheit has protected its successful Knobi King garlic press with a registered design right valid throughout the EU (so-called Community design). The practical stainless steel kitchen aid sits comfortably in the hand thanks to its ergonomic design. Thanks to the punched perforated plate, garlic cloves are not crushed, but cut into very small cubes. Numerous imitators from all over the world clumsily copy the popular design 1:1. The imitations are usually sold at a fraction of the original price and in correspondingly inferior quality, sometimes with a risk of injury. To protect its brand and to protect consumers, Leifheit consistently warns off imitators and has the infringing (online) offers deleted. Imitation is therefore not worthwhile.
Distinction - Gear Knob „DSG“ of the VW Golf 6
Left Original: Volkswagen AG, Wolfsburg, Germany
Sales: Amazon Export Sales LLC, Seattle, U.S.A.
Distribution via AMAZON.de (Operator: Amazon Europe Core S.à.r.l. Luxemburg)
As a platform operator, Amazon earns money from every sale - regardless of whether it is an original product or a counterfeit. At the same time, Amazon itself acts as a seller of products - including counterfeits: "DSG" is a registered trademark of VW for the gear knob of the VW Golf 6. Amazon US offers the Chinese counterfeit at a third of the original price on Amazon.de. Unprofessional: Amazon US has shown no reaction whatsoever to a warning letter from VW. And the technical operator of the Amazon.de website (see above) also denies any responsibility. Insufficient: Although VW has already deleted numerous counterfeits via the "Amazon Brand Registry", DSG counterfeits continue to appear, i.e. Amazon does not take any technical precautions to ensure that they are blocked or deleted as soon as they are uploaded.
Distinction - Bimetal Thermomanometer (Pressure- and Temperature Measuring)
Left Original: WIKA Alexander Wiegand SE & Co. KG, Klingenberg, Germany
Distribution: via EBAY.de - eBay GmbH, Kleinmachnow, Germany
Seller according to eBay: Company „shenzhenshihongqiaoshanfuzhuangyouxiangongsi“
(Username oi98-53 – „Top rating - one of the best sellers on eBay”
Shipping / Delivery: ShunShun GmbH, Linkenheim, Germany
WIKA vs. WAYI - VIKA - VIKAI. The "WIKA" brand of the internationally renowned specialist for measuring technology is often counterfeited. It is always surrounded by the distinctive, extra brand-protected blue frame open at the top right - here mirror-inverted on WAYI. In Asia, WIKA is taking consistent and successful action against any infringements of its (word) trade marks. In Germany, eBay is demanding a court judgement and only provides the contact details provided by the seller. Problem: The address of the Chinese seller consists of an unidentifiable one-word string of letters and the German sender cannot be contacted either. In its terms and conditions, eBay requires up-to-date, correct contact information. The practice looks different - and so does fair competition for European manufacturers and retailers.