Matthias Rößler - 6. September 2019

Plagiarism and counterfeiting

Product piracy is understood as the targeted infringement of copyright or intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks, designs), in which protected works and goods are produced and distributed on the market. The focus of product pirates is not only on consumer goods, but increasingly also on capital goods, with high-margin spare parts and components being particularly affected.

Economic consequences due to the existence of counterfeit products

For the manufacturer, the infringement of patent and trademark rights primarily results in lost sales and profits. Further consequences for the companies include, in addition to a falling price level, the loss of brand image and the risk of possible product liability for pirated goods. Europol reports on the situation in Europe: "Counterfeited and pirated products account for about 5% of imports to the EU. Thus the relative impact of counterfeiting is twice as high for the developed economies of the EU as it is for the world as a whole."

Prevention measures to ward off piracy and counterfeiting

In order to protect themselves from piracy and counterfeiting in a best possible way, companies must implement suitable protection and security concepts throughout the entire value chain. Technical protection measures, such as holograms, watermarks, micro colour codes or coding systems help to distinguish original products from counterfeits. Legal protection measures can prevent counterfeits from being put into circulation in the first place.

With an application for customs action it is possible to have plagiarism seized by customs. The prerequisite is that the products and goods are protected under patent or trademark law and that the infringement is obvious. This active action against product piracy is possible when importing or exporting to or from Germany.

With patent attorneys against product piracy

Patent attorneys can help manufacturers effectively fight piracy and protect their products. In order to prevent product piracy, we advise our clients on the extent to which the product in question is protectable and which product adaptations can be made in order to obtain patent, trademark or design protection.

When defending against product piracy, we support our clients in obtaining preliminary injunctions, especially at trade fairs, in border seizure proceedings and in asserting claims for information, damages and destruction.

Liquidation of claims in case of product piracy

With a claim for injunctive relief, the rights holder can prevent the further production and distribution of the plagiarism. In the case of a claim for damages, financial losses of the rights holder are to be compensated. With the right to information, information about the origin and course of the plagiarism can be demanded. The destruction claim obtains the destruction of the counterfeit product so that it does not come into circulation again.

In addition, numerous organizations - such as the "Initiative BASCAP" (Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy) of the International Chamber of Commerce and the "German Aktionskreis gegen Produkt- und Markenpiraterie e.V." (APM) - are committed to combating trademark and product piracy.

Regarding Matthias Rößler:

Matthias Rößler, German and European Patent Attorney since 2003, studied mechanical engineering at the RWTH Aachen. He is co-founding partner of karo IP. A main focus of his practice is the management of large patent portfolios and the enforcement of bilateral litigation proceedings before patent offices and patent courts. His additional qualification as Master of Laws (LL.M.) qualifies him especially for multinational infringement matters in Europe.

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