Brand piracy, product piracy or product counterfeiting is the trade in imitation goods produced with the goal of being as similar as possible to the original goods. This kind of trade infringes on trademark rights, copyrights, or patent rights.
There are three types of piracy:
- An original product is copied as closely as possible through counterfeiting and identical packaging and/or the manufacturer’s name is used as well. However, the contents, the materials used, and the workmanship are usually of inferior quality.
- Plagiarism is the unauthorized use of a product idea; plagiarized products typically have a slightly modified (brand) name.
- Pirated (or illegal) copies is the commonly used name for illegally produced or distributed copies of copyright-protected material.
The freedom to market me-too products applies, basically allowing competitors to produce me-too products and selling them under their own name. Only if the similarity is too big or a specific protective right (trademark right, patent right, design right, or copyright) is infringed can it be considered plagiarism or even counterfeiting.
Product and brand piracy have become a global phenomenon. According to information from the EU, plagiarized and counterfeit products account for about 10% of the global trade, corresponding to global and international losses of more than EUR 300 billion.
Product and brand piracy does not only have a negative impact on national economies. It can also cause lasting damage to the reputation and value of your brand. On the one hand, the audience no longer associates the characteristics, values or even products intentionally chosen by you with your brand. On the other hand, the inferior quality of the counterfeit goods or the sales channels used can damage your brand’s reputation. But most of all, you lose the exclusive control over your brand’s areas of commercial application, which leads to downright harmful market confusion on the part of the target audience.
To make sure that pirated goods do not have a harmful effect, they need to be taken out of circulation and destroyed as quickly as possible. Various legal procedures and legal remedies are available for this. In urgent cases, the court can be petitioned for what is known as a precautionary measure. In the long run, collaboration with the customs authorities is welcome so that they can hinder the import, export, or transit of pirated goods on request of the trademark holder. LB has many years of hands-on experience fighting brand piracy to guarantee that you are the one in control of your brand.