The plagiarism of a STEGO product, the Touch-safe Enclosure Heater CS 060, has been awarded the anti prize “Plagiarius” at the Ambiente consumer goods fair in Frankfurt for the most brazen counterfeit.
Illegal business with plagiarism and counterfeiting is extremely lucrative. The perpetrator structure ranges from unimaginative competitors over unscrupulous traders to organised crime. This is nothing new for consumer products. What is new, however, is the increased focus of plagiarists on high-priced products in the industrial sector. As a result, innovative medium-sized companies from Germany’s technology regions are increasingly moving into the focus of product counterfeiters.
This is the case with STEGO. “For years we have been actively fighting against counterfeits of our products. However, what we had to experience when copies of our enclosure heater CS 060 surfaced the market is unheard of. The plagiarism of the CS 60 is a 1:1 copy of our product. Even packaging, datasheet and operating manual have been copied in detail,” explains research & development manager Peter Witsch as reasons for the participation in the “Plagiarius” contest.
The jury followed this assessment and bestowed the Chinese copyist with the Plagiarius anti award. Since 1977, Aktion Plagiarius e.V. (an Anti-Counterfeiting Organisation) “honours” manufacturers and distributors of the most flagrant plagiarisms and counterfeits. The goal is to unmask the unscrupulous business practices of counterfeiters who violate intellectual property and pass it off as their own creative achievement (“name and shame”). As well as to raise public awareness of this complex problem that concerns industry and consumers likewise. Finally, to make clear that the process from the idea to a market-ready product is time-consuming, costly and requires innovative skills.
STEGO managing director Elmar Mangold takes up the same line of reasoning in his appreciation speech at the award ceremony in Frankfurt. “As a developer, I’m emotionally stirred up when I see how others abuse our innovative ideas. The development approach of the CS 060 was bold: take a glowing coal, pack it safely and still generate enough heat to warm a control cabinet. That sounds simple in the aftermath, but it is not. Anyone who knows the solution and copies it saves immense effort. “
Counterfeits are the expression of greed for profits and unscrupulousness rather than a well-meant compliment. Product and brand piracy is often waved aside as a trivial offence. However, the figures speak for themselves. According to the European Commission, only in 2016 European customs officials seized more than 41 million intellectual property infringing goods, with an estimated value of €670m at the EU borders – and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
During Hanover Fair in 2016, STEGO and German customs struck against plagiarism and closed the exhibition booth of a copycat. Product imitations were brought to destruction by customs authorities and the exhibitor was excluded from the fair. STEGO will keep their eyes open when participating at Hanover Fair in April 2018 and act against possible copycats and their counterfeits.