Innovation versus imitation: Plagiarius exhibition in the red dot design museum
From 26 August to 17 December 2006, the red dot design museum presents plagiarisms and counterfeited products, which are exhibited together with their originals, in a small exhibition. This exhibition is part of the annually awarded negative prize “Plagiarius,” which was created by Professor Rido Busse in 1977. At that time affected by the problem himself, Busse came up with the idea to create this prize which was to heighten the general public’s awareness of the imitators’ unscrupulousness and lack of ideas. A museum exhibiting the collection of ‘Aktion Plagiarius e.V.’ from the last three decades will open in Solingen in autumn 2006.
In 1977, when Professor Busse discovered an exact copy of the letter/diet scales 8600, which were designed by him and manufactured by the company Soehnle-Waagen, at a stand of a Hong Kong manufacturer - offered for a sixth of the original price and of course having a considerably lower quality – he decided to draw the public’s attention to this problem and inform them about the economic damages by awarding this negative prize.
Today, roughly 30 years after the Plagiarius prize was created, product and brand piracy have grown to an alarming extent. Almost eight percent of the world’s trade are imitated products. The economic damage is 200-300 billion euros per year and it keeps rising. In this process the Internet is regarded as the most important distribution channel. Plagiarisms and illicit imitations can be found in all possible product sectors. Even the red dot was not spared by product piracy: In 2003, an illicit copy of the ‘International Yearbook Communication Design 2002/2003’ edited by Professor Dr. Peter Zec appeared on the Chinese market unexpectedly and surprised the management of the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen.
With increasing ruthlessness, product pirates copy ideas of successful companies and present them as their own achievements. Above all in Asian regions, the western idea of intellectual property is not yet established. In China it is traditionally an honourable task to copy masters; but it is no longer only Asians who are masters of copying, but also increasingly Europeans and Americans, who appreciate the easily earned profits from illicit imitations.
As a symbol of the enormous profits plagiarists make at the expense of others, the ‘Plagiarius’ trophy, a black painted standard garden gnome No 917 by the manufacturer Hessler, has a golden nose. This brilliant PR idea of ‘Aktion Plagiarius e. V.’ has generated a lot of media attention and increased the public awareness of the problem. The deterring impact of this negative prize on imitators has also had the effect that plagiarisers try to escape public disgrace by often making a deal with the manufacturer of the original product and ideally taking their imitations off the market completely. The negative prize is awarded annually at a press conference at the ‘Ambiente’ goods fair in Frankfurt.
From 26 August to 17 December 2006, the red dot design museum presents originals and counterfeits of well-known products which have received the ‘Plagiarius.’ By presenting the actual imitations directly next to the originals the problem of product piracy is highlighted graphically.
For further information on ‘Aktion Plagiarius e.V.’ and the competition please visit www.plagiarius.com.