VDMA Study Product Piracy 2020



Every two years, the VDMA conducts a study on product and brand piracy among its member companies. Since 2003, reliable figures and information have thus been collected in order to give a picture of the threat posed by plagiarism, counterfeiters and copiers in our industry. The necessity of the survey among the members is shown by the large proportion of companies affected. The damages estimated by the companies go into the billions every year, for the German mechanical and plant engineering industry alone.

The most important results of the VDMA study Product Piracy 2020 at a glance:

- 74 percent of companies in the mechanical and plant engineering sector are affected by product piracy (2018: 71 percent). For companies with more than 500 employees, the rate is even around 90 percent. The threat of product and brand piracy is thus reaching a new all-time high.

- Compared to the last studies, the perceived threat shows a clear trend reversal: After a steady decline, with an increase of around 40 percent, 52 percent of those surveyed are now in favour of an increase in the threat level.

- The estimated loss in the 2019 sales year was 7.6 billion euros, an increase of 300 million euros compared to the 2018 study. The average loss for affected companies was 4.9 percent of annual sales.
- The loss of 7.6 billion euros corresponds to around 35,000 jobs (2018: 33,000).

- The People's Republic of China undisputedly leads the list of countries distributing counterfeit products with 61 percent. Germany follows in second place by a large margin (19 percent), followed by Russia (12 percent).
- For 72 percent of the companies, the competitor is considered the cause of the plagiarism. However, an alarming 42 percent of those surveyed also say that at least one of their business partners (customers, suppliers, joint venture partners, spare parts sellers) is a plagiarist.

- Among the infringements of property rights, unfair copying is again in first place with a clear 58 percent. Second place is shared by the infringement of trademark and patent rights with 39 percent each. The infringement of trademark rights, design and utility models thus falls significantly behind the last study.

- Counterfeit products are a verifiable security risk: 36 percent of companies report that counterfeit products pose a danger to operators or users. An alarming 57 percent of those questioned see a danger for the safe operation of the system in the case of the plagiarism they have discovered.

- In 64% of cases, individual components remain the most frequent plagiarism. Close behind are design plagiarisms in second place with 60 percent. In around 40 percent of cases, whole machines, spare parts or so-called "soft" plagiarism (catalogues, brochures, product photos) are the target of counterfeiting.

- In cases of plagiarism, the means of choice is to enforce the applicable rights first out of court and then under civil law. However, about half of all companies affected do not take any action at all. This is particularly true for small and medium-sized enterprises, where two out of three companies do not take any measures.