Tuesday, January 24, 2012

EU Studies "Parasitic Copying"

"The rapidly growing number of frame copycats was a much discussed topic at last December’s Taichung Bike Week. In particular carbon frame makers are faced with more and more patent infringements and outright copies. To fight such unlawful competition the European Union published a report on the existing legal protection in the EU member states against “parasitic copying”.

One of the aims of this study, conducted by Hogan Lovells International LLP, was to identify whether the current protection available to brand owners to prevent parasitic copying is sufficient to ensure free and effective competition.

According to this study the differences in the legal regimes between EU member states allow parasitic copying to flourish in some countries better than others where it is more controlled. Such legal differences exist despite the harmonization of the registered trade marks and industrial designs since the establishment of the EU internal market in 1993.

Even though the protection available in all member states should be identical in respect of trade mark law the approaches to deal with common problems differ across the EU. The reasons why they differ may depend on how such an issue was historically dealt with in each country but also on how EU law has been interpreted.

As a result of the legal diversity the rights of trade mark holders are inconsistent and lead to different results in different Member States. The study, published mid January, provides the basis for a new reflection on the adequacy of the current legal framework throughout the European Union.

The study recommends that any parasitic copying legislation should include a clear and precise indication of its aims and objectives to make it entirely clear to a member state when the approach it had previously adopted is insufficient and/or inapplicable. Next to that specialist courts should be the only judicial arena in which claims relating to parasitic copying claims are heard."


Pinarello is one of the most respected brands that has a huge problem, we've written here about it. FAKE:

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  1. Interesting report. Left me wondering: In which EU countries is parasitic copying flourishing?

  2. Larry just can not work up much sympathy for this problem. Of course it's impossible to claim none of this would be going on if these famous brands were not making their products in Asia instead of where their "company" is located, but one has to wonder. This would seem to be a mostly self-inflicted wound but perhaps would have happened even if the companies with copied products were still making them in their own country rather than outsourcing? Part of the blame can be laid upon rules that allow olives to be hauled into Tuscany from anywhere in the world to be pressed with the resulting oil legally labeled as "Tuscan olive oil" in the same way that bicycles made in Asia can be painted and stickered in Italy and be called "Made-in-Italy".

  3. Pinarello is able to get a better frame, for less money, in Asia. But they have also taught someone else how to make a Pinarello.

    It would not surprise me to learn that the counterfeits come out of the same mold, because molds are very expensive. They may be made with low-quality cf...or maybe not. Heck, Coach handbags come off the same production lines as Wal-mart handbags these days; bikes are no different.

    Kudos to Campy for sticking with Europe, even though it's hurting them. I just bought a new Centaur gruppo, but paid at least a 30% premium just because of Italian production (and the euro), and then a little more because it's Campagnolo. Campy has said the copycats are a big part of the reason, and they are right--look for a SRAM knockoff before a Campy one. But can Campy survive? My friends thought I was nuts to pay top dollar for a lower-mid-range groupset, and collectively they buy a lot more stuff than I do.