16. April 2021

Pla­gia­r­ius 2021: Against brazen theft of ideas

Pla­gia­rism not only harms the orig­i­nal man­u­fac­tur­ers, but also con­sumers. The neg­a­tive award “Pla­gia­r­ius” was award­ed for the 45th time on April 16, 2021 — for the first time in the con­text of a vir­tu­al press con­fer­ence due to corona.

Before the annu­al­ly chang­ing jury selects the award win­ners, the alleged pla­gia­rists are informed about their nom­i­na­tion and giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to com­ment. The jury is not con­cerned with brand­ing legal com­peti­tor prod­ucts. Rather, the inten­tion is to put the spot­light on clum­sy 1:1 imi­ta­tions that delib­er­ate­ly look con­fus­ing­ly sim­i­lar to the orig­i­nal prod­uct and show no cre­ative or con­struc­tive con­tri­bu­tion of their own. For­tu­nate­ly, numer­ous imi­ta­tors have already sought a set­tle­ment with “Pla­gia­r­ius” out of fear of the award and, for exam­ple, have tak­en resid­ual stocks of the pla­gia­rized prod­ucts off the mar­ket, signed cease-and-desist dec­la­ra­tions or dis­closed their suppliers.

This year, three par­tic­u­lar­ly brazen prod­uct pla­gia­risms were again honored:

1st prize: “STIHL MS 250” chainsaw.
Orig­i­nal: ANDREAS STIHL AG & Co. KG, Waib­lin­gen, Germany
Coun­ter­feit: Hangzhou Guley Gar­den Machin­ery Co., Ltd., PR China
The coun­ter­feit infringes the word mark “STIHL” (here: STHIL) as well as the col­or mark (orange/light gray) pro­tect­ed in over 100 coun­tries. Guley is one of the TOP3 coun­ter­feit­ers of STIHL prod­ucts in Chi­na with cus­tomers main­ly in South­east Asia, Africa and South America.

2nd prize: Elec­tric brake bleed­er “ERS 5” (use: auto­mo­tive brake maintenance)
Orig­i­nal: MAN­OTEC Indus­tri­al Automa­tion, Villin­gen-Schwen­nin­gen, Germany
Pla­gia­rism: Man­u­fac­ture: PR Chi­na, Dis­tri­b­u­tion: Czech sup­pli­er via eBay and Amazon
This cheap pla­gia­rism does not com­ply in any way with the legal require­ments for elec­tri­cal and pres­sure equipment.

3rd price: Sofa bed “Up-Lift
Orig­i­nal: Pros­to­ria d.o.o., Sv. Kriz Zacret­je, Croatia
Pla­gia­rism: Oxy­gen Corp. Lim­it­ed, Lon­don, Great Britain, sold via: privatefloor.com / myfaktory.com
Pros­to­ria has reg­is­tered design pro­tec­tion in many coun­tries for its award-win­ning “Up-Lift” prod­uct line. The imi­ta­tor copies 1:1 design, func­tion and prod­uct name, so there is a risk of confusion.

Aktion Pla­gia­r­ius e.V. has been award­ing the dread­ed “Schmäh-Preis” to man­u­fac­tur­ers and retail­ers of par­tic­u­lar­ly brazen pla­gia­risms and coun­ter­feits since 1977. 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 dubi­ous busi­ness meth­ods of prod­uct and brand pirates and to sen­si­tize indus­try, politi­cians and con­sumers to the prob­lem. The tro­phy is a black dwarf with a gold­en nose. The lat­ter sym­bol­izes the immense prof­its that unimag­i­na­tive imi­ta­tors lit­er­al­ly earn at the expense of cre­ative and inno­v­a­tive companies.

The ini­tia­tor of “Pla­gia­r­ius,” Pro­fes­sor Rido Busse, died in Feb­ru­ary 2021 at the age of 86. As an indus­tri­al design­er, Busse had rec­og­nized ear­ly on that gen­uine inno­va­tions are deci­sive for the pros­per­i­ty and com­pet­i­tive­ness of a nation­al econ­o­my, and that it is indis­pens­able to pro­mote and pro­tect cre­ative ideas and know-how.

In its unique exhi­bi­tion, the Muse­um Pla­gia­r­ius shows more than 350 Pla­gia­r­ius award win­ners from a wide range of indus­tries — in each case the orig­i­nal and the pla­gia­rism in direct com­par­i­son. The 2021 award win­ners are also to be shown in the short term. The exact date will be announced on the museum’s web­site, tak­ing into account the cur­rent Coro­na regulations.