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Plagiarius 2020

Plagiarius dwarf

Negative Award sheds public light on damage caused by counterfeits

This year’s "Plagiarius" awards were presented at the "Ambiente" consumer goods fair in Frankfurt on 7 February. For the 44rd time since 1977, Aktion Plagiarius e.V. has presented the dreaded Plagiarius anti-award to manufacturers and traders of particularly brazen copies and counterfeit products. It aims to raise public awareness of the coarse and unscrupulous business practices of counterfeiters and brand pirates and to draw the attention of industry, politicians and consumers to this problem. At the same time, the association emphasises the importance and effectiveness of IP rights.

Theft of intellectual property = design plagiarism, brand forgery, technology theft: Hidden (health) risks often revealed in counterfeits

Imitators unashamedly copy products that have been successfully established on the market. The manifestations range from design plagiarisms to technology theft to brand forgeries. The counterfeit goods are offered for sale in all price and quality gradations: From cheap and dangerous counterfeits to high-quality plagiarisms that are hardly cheaper or even more expensive than the original product. The damage for the original producers is enormous: loss of sales, loss of jobs, unjustified damage to their image, lack of earnings for future product developments.

Many plagiarisms and counterfeits are verifiably made of cheap materials, poorly processed and have never undergone quality or security checks. De facto, this can be seen, among other things, in short life cycles, defective electronics and functionality or high levels of pollution. In short: health risks. For example, if the material of the supposedly harmlessly counterfeit backpack is contaminated with toxic, cancer-causing pollutants, or if the counterfeit sunglasses do not provide UV protection against dangerous sunrays. Fake rims, medicines, chainsaws, respirators are even life-threatening.

A global problem with many profiteers along the value chain

According to the EU Commission, in 2018 the European customs authorities confiscated more than 27 million infringing products with a value of over 740 million Euros at the EU's external borders. China is on the one hand the No. 1 country of origin for counterfeits. At the same time, many Chinese companies are developing from the extended workbench of the West into innovative competitors on the world markets who protect their products themselves. Furthermore, imitations are often also produced, distributed or even commissioned in industrialised countries. This is often done by competitors with poor ideas or former production or distribution partners. Western competitors very specifically check the existence of industrial property rights. If none are registered, aspirations and scruples are thrown overboard and external design and technology solutions are issued as one's own achievement.

Easy job for counterfeiters on the WWW - Fake shops are booming

Demonstrably, well-known global eCommerce platforms do not only offer original goods but also large scale illicit plagiarisms and counterfeits. Mainly, the last-mentioned are being distributed from third-party suppliers who change their (fake) identities whenever required, and successfully veil themselves in the anonymity of the World Wide Web. A lucrative business without (liability) risks, where the plat-form operators incidentally also earn money. Parallel to this, more and more "fake shops" are emerg-ing. Dubious providers either take over expiring domains of well-known brands or register domain names in which brand names appear. The fake shops look deceptively similar to the websites of brand manufacturers. They often use original photos, -reviews etc. in order to mislead consumers.

As long as it is possible for anyone in the world to register (de-) domains without identity verification or to log on to e-commerce portals with fake names and addresses, these loopholes will be exploited for unfair purposes. Especially when buying on the Internet, consumers should take a close look, listen to their common sense and not click on "Buy" hastily and without criticism: Is the price unrealistically low? Does the domain name sound strange? Is there an SSL certificate (https)? Is a supposed trust seal linked? In addition, it is useful to carefully check the imprint, payment conditions (attention with "prepayment only"), revocation possibilities and the general seriousness of the provider, in order that no one will become an easy victim of fraudsters.

The main winners of the "2020 Plagiarius" award

Abbildung der Produkte

The "Main Prize Winners 2020" - left original, right plagiarism

The jury met on January 11, 2020. Four main prizes (3rd prize has been awarded twice) and six distinctions (equal in rank) were awarded; total entities: 23. The four main prizes are awarded to:

  • 1. Price: Kitchen Cutting Device "Nicer Dicer Quick"
    • Original: Genius GmbH, Limburg, Germany
    • Counterfeit: Ningbo A-Biao Plastic Industry & Trade Co., Ltd., PR China
    • The counterfeiter infringes various industrial property rights of Genius. He not only copies the product and packaging design, but also the company name "Genius", the product name "Nicer Dicer Quick", as well as text and pictures of the English-language operating instructions - only the Genius logo was retouched away here. The cheap materials reflect the inferior quality: the cutting blades are rather blunt and not as firmly anchored - there is a risk of breaking out and thus a risk of injury.

  • 2. Prize: KAYSER Cream Chargers
    • Original: Kayser Berndorf GmbH, Vienna, Austria
    • Counterfeit: Female Foods BV, Woerden, The Netherlands (liquidated)
      A Belgian vendor acquired the counterfeits "in good faith"
    • The counterfeiter infringes the figurative mark "KAYSER" and copies 1:1 product and packaging. The fakes do not meet any quality and safety standards: The cap of a counterfeit charger has ex-ploded under normal storage conditions and without any external influence. The chargers are rusted inside; the gas in the chargers is contaminated and not food safe.

  • 3. Prize: JULIUS-K9 Dog Harness "IDC Powerharness"
    • Original: JULIUS-K9 Zrt., Szigetszentmiklós, Hungary
    • Counterfeit: Shenzhen Dog Favors Pet Supplies Co., Ltd., PR China
    • The counterfeiter copies 1:1 the product as well as the brand "JULIUS-K9". The inferior materials and reflectors have a negative effect on wearing comfort, visibility and durability. JULIUS-K9 coun-terfeits are often distributed via e-commerce platforms (e.g. Alibaba.com) and social media. The JULIUS-K9 Group has international design and brand protection and consistently enforces its rights against fake manufacturers and distributors.

  • 3. Prize: (Laptop-) Backpack "Wenger Ibex"
    • Original: Wenger S.A., Delémont, Switzerland
    • Plagiarism: Manufacture: PR China
    • Distribution: Swiss Bag, Jerusalem, Israel
    • The Chinese manufacturer has adopted the design and construction of the original 1:1. He sells the plagiarisms through a worldwide distribution network, including Israel. The brand name "Wenger" is not being infringed, but the Wenger emblem figurative mark (cross on a square), which is protected by Wenger S.A. Swiss Bag sells both, original Wenger products and Wenger counterfeit products in its shop and on its website.

Further distinctions were awarded to the fakes of the following products

  • Packaging design "maria sole Caffè Espresso"
  • Sweeper "haaga 677 Profi" (with battery power)
  • Diving Torch "Ledlenser D14.2"
  • Shaver "Futur 700"
  • Pendant Light "Tilt Globe"
  • 3D-Silicone Baking Mould "ELEGANZA"

More information

Background information on 2020 Plagiarius award – photos of all prize-winning counterfeit products, information on the jury and other facts on the subject of product piracy can be found on the website of Aktion Plagiarius e.V. To find out why and how small and medium-sized enterprises in particular can protect their intellectual property, visit our SME information pages.

Pictures: Aktion Plagiarius e.V.

Last updated: 20 October 2020 

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