Copying branded products at the expense of the makers of the originals has long been big business and has become a major problem for the world’s economies.

The valve industry is among the latest to report the theft of intellectual property. However, international initiatives are now being introduced to counteract the problem.  Rotork, the British manufacturer of valve actuators, took an imitator to court in a successful prosecution for contravening design rights and copyright laws. The Asian company had copied Rotork’s prize winning IQ and IQT actuator ranges. Trademark laws were also infringed. The product pirates were then forced to take down their stands at trade fairs in both Germany and the Netherlands.

Product piracy is worldwide no longer a marginal phenomenon. It is estimated to cost companies €660 billion, which amounts to 9% of world trade volume. In the past, the main focus of copiers was on consumer goods but now counterfeiters are increasingly turning to industrial products.

Mechanical and plant engineering, and therefore the valve industry, has been particularly hard hit by the development. Complete machines are being imitated but so are spare parts and components. The German Engineering Federation VDMA estimates annual losses at €7 billion.