On 16 April, the German negative award Plagiarius was once again awarded; due to the pandemic in a virtual press conference. In addition to the top-3 counterfeits, seven equally ranked negative prizes were awarded this year; in total, seven counterfeits copied products of German companies, multiple of those originating in Baden-Württemberg; Croatian designs were affected twice, and one product came from Great Britain.
The jury of Aktion Plagiarius e.V. awarded the first place to a counterfeit of a product from the tool manufacturer Stihl, out of Waiblingen near Stuttgart. The highlighted fake chainsaw infringes Stihl’s protected color mark as well as the company’s word mark, even if the brand name was misspelled. The China-based counterfeiter is known as an imitator of Stihl products; the Swabian manufacturer has already won eight court cases against them.
Second place was also awarded to the counterfeit of a product from Baden-Württemberg, highlighting the counterfeit of an electric brake bleeder from the special machine manufacturer MANOTEC in Villingen-Schwenningen. The fake product did not comply with legal requirements and had significant safety flaws. It comes from a Chinese counterfeiter and was sold by a Czech vendor e.g. via online marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon; for the online sales, only different control buttons were added to a product photo of the original manufacturer. Third place went to a fake of a sofa bed from the Croatian manufacturer Prostoria, which could also record another award for a fake of its armchair. In both cases, the design as well as the product name were closely imitated by British companies.
Manufacturers from Baden-Württemberg are also among the victims of the other award winners: One of the awards went to a counterfeit of a step drill from RUKO GmbH Präzisionswerkzeuge in Holzgerlingen in the Stuttgart area. Another German company had imitated the innovative product and design features of the newly developed drill bit. “Our team, especially our developers, have worked long and hard to develop such an unique tool. For this reason, such bold plagiarism is all the more annoying”, said Ronald Weber, CEO of RUKO. However, the alleged counterfeiter denies the accusations and argues that the technology is free to use. Other award-winning fakes copy products from Wagner System GmbH in Lahr, also in Baden-Württemberg; in this case, the negative award went to doorstops from a Czech supplier that faked the design of the originals.
A well-known major German company is also among the alleged counterfeiters: the retailer ALDI SÜD is accused of copying the design and concept of a functional jacket from the renowned Hessian clothing manufacturer Engelbert Strauss. According to Aktion Plagiarius, ALDI SÜD does not consider the jacket to be a counterfeit but still wants to consult with the original manufacturer. Also denounced were a counterfeit cookie former for small bakeries and confectioneries (original from Niederrheinische Formenfabrik Janssen GmbH, North Rhine-Westphalia), a counterfeit dish drainer (original from Rotho Kunststoff AG, Switzerland), and a counterfeit Christmas tree stand (original from Tannen-Paradies GmbH, Berlin).
The negative effects of counterfeit products were highlighted by laudator Peter Siebert, Managing Director of HANSI Siebert GmbH & Co. „Knowingly buying counterfeit products is neither cool nor clever or even harmless. Further consumer education is and remains one of the most important tasks in the fight against counterfeit products and their manufacturers or clients.” The negative prize Plagiarius, which has been awarded since 1977, wants to increase public awareness of the dubious business practices of counterfeiters and to raise awareness of counterfeiting.