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General information on product and brand piracy

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    In Germany, there is no uniform definition of product and trademark piracy.
    Product piracy is understood to mean, in particular, the prohibited copying and reproduction of goods in which others (the manufacturers) have an intellectual property right. This property right may relate to trademark or patent rights, as well as to design patents or related property rights.
    In contrast, one speaks of brand piracy when signs, names, logos or business designations of brand manufacturers are used illegally.
    Legal measures against product and trademark piracy are regulated in particular in the German Trademark Protection Act as well as in the Copyright Act.

    Forms of product and brand piracy

    In general, product piracy is differentiated according to four different criteria. These are referred to as slavish counterfeiting, plagiarism, classic counterfeiting or piracy.
    While slavish counterfeiting is very concerned with producing a faithful copy of the original product and also adopts the packaging and brand name, plagiarism involves minor changes to the brand names. The classic counterfeit uses the original packaging, also uses the name of the manufacturer unaltered, but changes the ingredients or the materials or the type of processing. Pirated or black copies are illegal reproductions of originals. This type of product piracy occurs mainly in the area of software, audio or video media.

    However, all four forms of product and brand piracy have one thing in common: trading in these products is illegal.

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    Special cases of product and trademark piracy

    The term product piracy also includes so-called look-alikes. This English term refers to products that look similar to the original but are marketed under their own brand name. Although such products do not constitute trademark piracy because they do not affect trademark protection law, they do significantly disrupt marketing and licensing structures.
    Also not clearly classifiable are the so-called parallel imports. These are original brand products intended for export to countries that do not belong to the EU. Although parallel imports - similar to look-alikes - do not constitute a trademark infringement, under certain conditions parallel imports do constitute a criminal act of product piracy.

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