Plagiarism

Awarding shameless counterfeits

| Editor: Rosemarie Stahl

The form of the award, a gnome, was created to express the German aphorism "to earn oneself a golden nose" meaning to earn a lot of money.
Gallery: 7 Pictures
The form of the award, a gnome, was created to express the German aphorism "to earn oneself a golden nose" meaning to earn a lot of money. (Source: Aktion Plagiarius)

Many companies have to deal with cheap copies of their own inventive products. Aktion Plagiarius has found its own original way of fighting plagiarism: Each year, they award the best and most unscrupulous copies.

Since 1977 Aktion Plagiarius e.V. annually grants the negative award Plagiarius to those manufacturers and distributors whom the jury has found guilty of making or selling "the most flagrant" (design) imitations. Goal is to denounce the unscrupulous business practices of counterfeiters, who pilfer intellectual property and pass it off as their own creative achievement, Aktion Plagiarius says.They also want to shed light on and call attention to the injustice and the problems of enterprises affected by imitations. Since decades, Aktion Plagiarius contributes to a large extent to raising the public awareness and sensitising the industry, politicians and the consumers.

1. Prize: Retractable dog leash Flexi Explore L by Flexi-Bogdahn International, Germany (left). Forgery: Various anonymous online sellers, using fake identities and daily changing accounts on amazon.com (USA). The inferior quality (e.g. dysfunctioning retraction mechanism) already led to customer complaints and reputation damages in the US (right).
1. Prize: Retractable dog leash Flexi Explore L by Flexi-Bogdahn International, Germany (left). Forgery: Various anonymous online sellers, using fake identities and daily changing accounts on amazon.com (USA). The inferior quality (e.g. dysfunctioning retraction mechanism) already led to customer complaints and reputation damages in the US (right). (Source: Aktion Plagiarius)

Globalisation, digital communication, the Internet and gullible (online) bargain-hunters are the major catalysts for the rampant spread of brand and product piracy. Yet, plagiarisms and counterfeits are neither compliment nor trivial offence. For counterfeiters, it is an extremely lucrative business model. However, the reputation damages for the brand name producers as well as the safety risks for consumers are immense. As long as there is demand for copied products, there will be adequate supply. A realistic information and sensitisation of the consumer world is crucial.

According to Aktion Plagiarius, the trophy of the black gnome with the golden nose is a symbol for the exorbitant earnings product pirates collect at the cost of innovative companies. This gnome was created to express the German aphorism "to earn oneself a golden nose" meaning to earn a lot of money.

2. Prize: Office chair Silver by Interstuhl Büromöbel, Germany (left). Plagiarism: Distribution by Shenzhen Chunshan Trading, China (right).
2. Prize: Office chair Silver by Interstuhl Büromöbel, Germany (left). Plagiarism: Distribution by Shenzhen Chunshan Trading, China (right). (Source: Aktion Plagiarius)

Naturally, the Plagiarius award remains silent about whether a plagiarism is legal or otherwise. That decision depends on numerous factors, such as registered intellectual property rights for the original product or unfair competitive conduct of the imitator. Aktion Plagiarius does not, nor wants to, pass judgement. However, Aktion Plagiarius can call attention to the problems that affected businesses and consumers must face, and express the opinion, that clumsy 1:1 imitations are unimaginative and morally objectionable and lead to stagnation. Even legislature formulates the so called “principle of freedom to copy” as follows: (Technical) progress is only possible, when already existing inventions may serve as “a basis or inspiration for new products”. Thus, even freedom to copy does not legitimise almost identical products that could be confused with the original product. In this context, Aktion Plagiarius emphasises that legally competing products which follow a trend, but differ sufficiently in design and technology from the original product, do not have to fear a Plagiarius nomination, but in fact are explicitly appreciated, as they stimulate fair competition.

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