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Plagiarius 2022

"Plagiarius 2022" goes to particularly brazen product counterfeits

This year's "Plagiarius" awards were presented at a virtual press conference. Since 1977 and for the 46th time, Aktion Plagiarius e.V. has been awarding the "Plagiarus" prize to manufacturers and retailers of particularly brazen counterfeit products. The virtual award ceremony and press conference was broadcast from the Baden-Württemberg Patent and Trademark Centre in Stuttgart. In her speech, this year's laudator, Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut, Minister of Economics, Labour and Tourism of the State of Baden-Württemberg, emphasised the outstanding importance of intellectual property for securing jobs, prosperity and competitiveness.

Counterfeit products and online piracy: Youth Barometer 2022 shows significant increase in the purchase of fake products

How often do young Europeans aged 15 to 24 use legal or illegal online sources and how do they behave with regard to counterfeit goods? These are the questions addressed by the "Youth Barometer 2022" published on the occasion of the "World Anti-Counterfeiting and Piracy Day". According to the survey, 37 percent of young people have deliberately bought one or more counterfeit products in the last 12 months. The counterfeit products that young people most commonly buy intentionally are clothes and accessories (17 %), followed by footwear (14 %) electronic devices (13 %), and hygiene, cosmetics, personal care and perfumes (12 %).

Online piracy
Intentional piracy remains stable, with 21 % of young consumers (one in five) acknowledging they accessed pirated content on purpose in the last 12 months. However, access from legal sources is gaining ground among the younger generations: 60 % claimed to have not used, played, downloaded or streamed content from illegal sources in the past year, compared to 50 % in 2019 and 40 % in 2016, thus confirming the trend.

Key drivers
Price and availability continue to be the main reasons for buying fake products and accessing pirated content intentionally. However, social influences, such as the behaviour of family, friends or acquaintances, are gaining significant ground.

What makes young people think twice?
For both products and digital content, young people mentioned personal risks of cyber fraud and cyberthreats as important factors that would curb their behaviours. Also, a better understanding of the negative impact on the environment or on society are now more widely mentioned by the young people surveyed.

This study is the third edition of the Youth Scoreboard series, which was first released by the EUIPO in 2016 and then again in 2019. Find out more on the externer Link EUIPO website.

Every original stands for progress, diversity, the future - and for courage

With all its activities against brazen idea theft, Aktion Plagiarius is also committed to more appreciation of creative achievements. After all, it is a complex and cost-intensive process from the initial idea to the market-ready end product, in which the developers or brand owners regularly make advance investments. Design and engineering services require not only very complex specialist knowledge, but also a sense for markets, trends, sustainable production and economic feasibility. Quality and safety controls, certifications, packaging design and many more factors also play an important role. In order to be able to secure further product developments and jobs, this entrepreneurial risk must pay off. Only then can the economy and prosperity in Germany, Europe and the world develop and the future be shaped.

High profits at the expense of the economy, consumers and factory workers

However, this does not work out when unscrupulous free riders successfully copy established products 1:1, unabashedly pass them off as their own achievement, offer them at a supposedly lower price and thus unjustifiably siphon off market shares and profits from the original manufacturer. In addition, to maximise profits, counterfeiters sometimes use the cheapest materials and disregard quality controls as well as social standards in the counterfeiting factories.

During the pandemic, many counterfeiters adapted their business models to the modified demand at lightning speed. Whether lockdown, or supply bottlenecks - such as for masks, eBikes, semiconductor chips or active ingredients for medicines - they can supposedly meet any demand, especially online and via digital media. Kathrin Körber, Telecommunications and Internet Officer at the Consumer Advice Cen-tre of Lower Saxony, advises victims of so-called "fake shops". Operators of fake shops offer online products that are in high demand and then charge customers without ever delivering the goods. "Some websites are only operated in order to obtain customer data and conclude other sales contracts," says Kathrin Körber. She always recommends taking a look at the imprint and the terms and conditions. "Typical warning signals for online shops are, e.g., a missing imprint or fictitious addresses or stolen trade register numbers, compulsion to pay in advance, seals of approval not linked to the issuer. Suppliers from non-European countries often exclude the right of withdrawal altogether, have idiosyncratic return conditions and respond less frequently to enquiries. In addition, there are high return shipping and customs costs." She advises those affected to try to reverse the payment as soon as possible and to file a complaint with the local police. To avoid high penalties and to minimise losses upon discovery, counterfeiters deliberately spread their activities among various small, seemingly unrelated online shops.

Increase in dangerous imitations reveals unscrupulousness of counterfeiters

In their recent report externer Link "Dangerous Fake", the OECD and EUIPO warn that criminals often pay no attention to legal regulations and safety-related parameters and increasingly distribute counterfeit goods that can pose serious health, safety and environmental risks. The most frequently affected products are clothing, perfumes, cosmetics, toys, spare parts for cars, medicines as well as medical and COVID-related products such as test kits or protective equipment. The American Apparel & Footwear Associa-tion also points with concern to sometimes dangerously large quantities of chemicals and heavy metals in counterfeit clothing, shoes and accessories.

In the report externer Link "Global Trade in Fakes", EUIPO and OECD put the international trade in counterfeits at an alarming €412 billion for 2019 alone. This corresponds to 2.5% of world trade. In Europe, the share is significantly higher, at 5.8% of all EU imports. Imports of counterfeit products into the EU amounted to €119 billion in 2019. Purely domestic transactions are not included. The study externer Link PDF-Datei "Intellectual Property Crime Threat" by Europol and EUIPO shows that most of the counterfeits are still produced in China. However, the increasing import of counterfeit packaging materials and semi-finished products into the EU also points to illegal production sites in the EU.

Fake remains fake: No brand experience, despite a chic cover

Nowadays, counterfeit goods are available in all price and quality gradations: from dangerous cheap fakes to high-quality, but then also high-priced, plagiarisms. Aktion Plagiarius strongly advises consum-ers not to uncritically follow every recommendation on social media or to click "buy" too quickly. It is still evident that plagiarisms and counterfeits are only deceptively similar to the original at first glance. Con-sumers should not indulge in the illusion that identical appearance automatically means the same quality, performance, and above all safety. In addition, every counterfeit merely copies the product cover. It does not convey the inner values of the brand product and never manages to create the brand experience of the original.

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 counter-feiters of their basis for business.

The Award Winners 2022 of the Negative Award “Plagiarius”

The jury met on January 14 + 15, 2022 (corona-conform) and awarded three main prizes, one spe-cial award and four peer awards / distinctions.

"1. Prize": Cutlery Set "KLIKK" (3 pieces) - sold as part of a promotion

Plastik-Besteckset

Besteck-Set "KLIKK" - oben Original/unten Plagiat

Original: koziol ideas for friends GmbH, Erbach, Germany
Plagiarism: Distribution: Are Media Pty Ltd., Sydney NSW, Australia, Manufacture: PR China

Compact. Clever. Sustainable. What seems so simple at first glance is extremely complex in its fine construction. The design-awarded KLIKK reusable cutlery set impresses with its intelligent plug-in connection and a sustainable material and manufacturing concept. Australia's 'leading premium' publisher of women's magazines used a very inferior plagiarism of the cutlery as part of a loyalty campaign. As much as the visual appearance was designed to match exactly, there was little emphasis on durability. The plagiarism is made of unsuitable plastic, which deforms after a very short time and thus makes the cutlery completely unusable after a few uses. Even the low price - approximately one third of the original price - is no consolation.

"2. Prize:" Pressure Gauge (use: in chemical and process engineering processes)

Druckmessgerät

links Original, rechts Plagiat

Original: WIKA Alexander Wiegand SE & Co. KG, Klingenberg, Germany
Distribution: Abdullah Corporation, Dhaka, Bangladesh

(Pressure) measuring instruments are essential in mechanical engineering, automation, the food and pharmaceutical industries as well as in chemical and process engineering processes. WIKA products stand for precision, quality and safety; even at extreme temperatures or in highly aggressive media. The inferior counterfeits from Southeast Asia are neither reliably precise nor robust against shocks. This counterfeiter not only abuses the globally protected trademark "WIKA", he deceives buyers with "Made in Germany" about the true origin. CT examinations by Klostermann 3D Messtechnik reveal that the measuring spring of the counterfeit is too small and that there are no fine adjustment possibilities, so that the declared measuring accuracy - class 1.0 according to EN837-1 - is not achieved. The potential danger of falsely regulated pressure is high, as are the follow-up costs. Therefore, WIKA always takes decisive action against counterfeiters.

"3. Prize: "Double-row "INA" axial angular contact ball bearing (precision bearing for screw drives)

Axial-Schrägkugellager

links Original, rechts Plagiat

Original: Schaeffler Technologies AG & Co. KG, Herzogenaurach, Germany
GIANT Bearing Co., Ltd., Jiangsu, PR China

GIANT shamelessly copies and forges everything: from products, packaging and the brand names of renowned manufacturers such as Schaeffler, to dealer certificates, Data Matrix codes and bank confirmations. Everything except the product quality. Precision and reliability play an enormous role in products that are used in machine tools, among other things. 3D Scanning by Klostermann 3D Messtechnik shows significant deviations in dimensional accuracy and manufacturing quality, with unpredictable consequences depending on the installation situation. The damage lies not only with Schaeffler, but also with dealers who are liable for the inferior quality, and with customers who have to endure the consequences for man and machine. Schaeffler therefore protects and defends its intellectual property very consistently worldwide.

One Special Award and four “Distinctions“ (equal in rank) were awarded

Special Award "Hyena Prize"

Schaltschrankschlüssel "KNIPEX TwinKey"

Original: KNIPEX-Werk C. Gustav Putsch KG, Wuppertal, Germany
Plagiarism: Various online vendors, mainly from the PR China (14 examples out of 9,500+) Distribution via, among others:
Amazon.de/ Amazon.fr /Amazon.com/USA; Alibaba.com; Taobao.com/China; 1688.com/China; banggood.com

9,500 illegal offers of the TwinKey have been deleted by KNIPEX on online platforms in the last three years. The special feature of the original: The ingenious, patent-protected solution, in which two multifunctional keys with a total of ten profiles are combined very compactly and in a star-shaped arrangement by means of a magnet, but can be easily separated for use. Various court decisions confirm the 'competitive distinctiveness' of the original, i.e. imitators act unfairly and deceive buyers about the origin. The extremely low prices of the counterfeits are reflected in cheap materials and poor workmanship, the magnet often does not work or comes loose from the attachment.

"Distinction": "GERMENS“ Artist’s-Shirt "ALNUSO“

Männerhemd

links Original, rechts Plagiat

Original: GERMENS artfashion - Markeking GmbH, Chemnitz, Germany
Plagiarism: Distribution: Gabano UG (limited liability), Melle, Germany, Manufacturer: Gabano Fashion Design Agency / Gabano Group, Istanbul, Turkey

GERMENS shirts stand for high-quality fabrics and edgy designs created by artists. In this - and many other Gabano plagiarisms - the colours and the art motifs that characterise the overall impression have been copied almost 1:1, only the arrangement and tiny details have been changed or the view rotated. Gabano's German website is in English and contains no imprint. The address given on Facebook is also not accessible. Trendy buzzword buttons like "design process" and "sustainable production" lead nowhere. A German online retailer offered the plagiarism for one seventh of the original. He signed a cease-and-desist declaration.

"Distinction": Cutlery Set "KLIKK POCKET" for on the go (3 pieces)

Plastik-Besteckset

links Original, rechts Plagiat

Original: koziol »ideas for friends GmbH, Erbach, Germany
Plagiarism: Distribution via: "de.shein.com", Fastfashion Online Shop, Operator SHEIN upon discovery of plagiarism: ZoeTop Business Co., Ltd., Hong Kong

The functional reusable cutlery KLIKK POCKET is ideal for on the go and meets the spirit of the times: compact, robust and 100% recyclable. Koziol has registered EU-wide design protection for the design-awarded cutlery - as for all its products. Cheap-Fastfashion distributor SHEIN recruited customers via Google Adwords and social media and offered the visually identical but unstable plagiarism in 4 colours - for less than a third of the original price. On the packaging of the plagiarism, 5 certificate labels are shown, which are supposed to testify to sustainability, quality and safety. Whether the testing institutes have ever tested the material and the cheap product is questionable.

"Distinction": Volkswagen wheel trim with "VW" logo

Radzierblende

links Original, rechts Plagiat

Original: Volkswagen AG, Wolfsburg, Deutschland
Plagiarism: Manufacturer: Murama S.r.l., Turin, Italy, Distribution: various online vendors (Germany / EU), via eBay.de and Amazon.de

"Product does not originate them but adaptable". This is unabashedly engraved on every fake "VW" wheel cap. Optionally, Murama offers other car brands. Price: 25% of the original. This is reflected in cheap materials and lack of stability. VW protects its intellectual property worldwide and consistently enforces its rights. A German online vendor has signed a cease-and-desist declaration and submit-ted. The Italian manufacturer refused a cease-and-desist declaration. Despite obvious trademark infringement, (protracted) court proceedings are therefore pending against Murama in Italy.

"Distinction": CanadianCat foodbar “Cat Diner”, with separate cat grass bowl

Katzenfutterbar

oben Original, unten Plagiat

Original: Wagner Pet Products Group, Geilenkirchen, Germany
Plagiarism: Vertrieb: Distribution: German discounter and a German supplier theme promoter

The original: Smart (protected) design, well thought-out ergonomics, high-quality impression. Idea, shapes, colours and arrangement of the individual elements were adopted almost 1:1. The cheap price, a fifth of the original, quickly becomes apparent in the materials and fine construction. In the plagiarism, the feeding bowls are not made of shape- and heat-resistant ceramic, but of cheap plastic. The bowls do not sit stably in the recess, i.e. they slide back and forth uncontrollably and loudly when eating. Due to the clear design violation and in the interest of a quick and unbureaucratic settlement, the supplier/theme promoter of the German discounter was willing to settle the case amicably out of court.

More information

Background information on 2022 Plagiarius award can be found on the website of externer Link 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: 28 September 2022