Product falsification, patent infringements, imitations ... One often associates such activities with Asia. Fact is, however, that these activities do not take place only in Asia. Moreover, no longer is it only the producers of sport and luxury items that are affected.
KARL STORZ, a leading, worldwide manufacturer of medical endoscopes, endoscopic instruments and equipment, is increasingly finding that other German firms are illegally copying their products.
The management of KARL STORZ note a small but significant difference between fair and unfair competition: "As the leading producer of endoscopes, we have nothing against fair competition. Fair competition comes about through innovative new products that a company brings onto the market through its own research and development. As leading innovators, we have no problem with having such market comparisons. Healthy competition spurs us on to find even better solutions. However, products developed through KARL STORZ’s hard work that are then illegally copied can in some cases have a negative impact on KARL STORZ’s reputation as well as on its ability to provide employment."
In just the past two years, for just one set of instruments – a standard urology set comprising resectoscope working element (passive or active form) partially with appropriate sheaths – 17 German firms that had virtually copied the original KARL STORZ model were identified. Except for one still-pending case, all cases have been settled whether in- or out-of-court to the advantage of KARL STORZ.
Aktion Plagiarius e.V. is considering eight of these copied products for its prize this year. Since 1977, under the motto “Innovation vs. Imitation – “Plagiarius” accuses imitators for their unimaginative and shameless behaviour”, Plagiarius has been awarding its prize to companies that have copied products – in effect stolen the intellectual property – of other companies.
Firms receiving the award this year include:
- Ackermann Instrumente GmbH, Rietheim-Weilheim, Germany
- Asap Endoscopic products GmbH, Freiburg, German
- Gimmi GmbH, Tuttlingen, Germany
- Mahe-Barthelmes Medizintechnik GmbH, Emmingen-Liptingen, Germany
- MGB Endoskopische Geräte GmbH Berlin, Berlin, Germany
- Schölly Fiberoptic GmbH, Denzlingen, Germany
- Stema Medizintechnik, Stockach, German
- Wenkert Medizintechnik Klaus Wenkert, Seitingen-Oberflacht, Germany