In a fast moving age manufacturers of innovative products and products of exceptional quality are often victims of product piracy. Imitators enter the market just copying extensively developed prod-ucts and reducing the deserved turnover of the original creators. To fight this current threat con-scious behavior and reliable protection measures are required. But at first the companies itself have to change the way of dealing with the protection of products.
As part of the technology network “intelligent technical systems” OstWestfalenLippe (it’s OWL) funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) the project “Prevention of Product Piracy” (it’s OWL 3P) focuses on raising the awareness that legal measures are just one way to protect innovations and products against product piracy.
Nowadays a high percentage of companies try to counteract piracy just by the use of legal measures as registration of design and utility patents. These measures are important in the fight against coun-terfeits as well but they are more reactive than they appear. The imitations are already in the market and so the economic damage is already perceptible before companies can initiate formal complaints. Therefore the project focuses more on a preventive approach for the protection of products.
The Direct Manufacturing Research Center (DMRC) is leading a workpackage focusing on possible contributions of Additive Manufacturing to prevent product piracy. At the projects beginning the specific characteristics and possibilities of AM have been analyzed to show the potentials of pre-ventive protection by the use of this innovative technology. During the runtime of “it’s OWL 3P” “traditional” protection measures have been adapted to be applicable by AM and new measure have already been developed.
Considering the measures developed during “it’s OWL 3P” in the early stages of product develop-ment process will contribute preventively to the protection of products. Mostly the measures can be applied to a product or a part of a product without increasing the manufacturing costs in the later stages.One objective is the development of a catalog listing the possible protection measures (stra-tegic, product-related, tagging etc.) to be considered and applied already in the early stages of product development.