How to prevent product piracy using a new TRIZ-based methodology
In recent years, product and brand piracy has significantly gained importance and risen to a worldwide mass phenomenon. According to an estimation of the OECD, the total annual business volume of counterfeiting and piracy worldwide exceeds several hundred billion Euros. Companies affected are not only burdened by commercial losses such as lost sales volume and lower sales prices, but also by decreasing brand value and company reputation, lower licence revenues and finally, by costs for counteractions against product piracy. Consequently, companies are gradually facing up to the challenge and taking action. Besides legal measures, an increasing number of firms is also willing to implement strategic and technical measures into their organisations respectively products. This development is in line with the results of a recent survey conducted by the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, in which the highest success rates in the battle against product piracy were attributed to non-legal, i.e. strategic and technical actions. Nevertheless, the potential of these approaches is so far only being exploited to a limited extent. This is mainly due to lacking knowledge regarding the functionality and benefits of technical know-how protection mechanisms. Focusing on this issue, the paper introduces a new TRIZ-based methodology, the so called Product Piracy Conflict Matrix (PPC Matrix). The methodology has been designed to help companies to overcome a typical conflict, when it comes to developing non-legal protection schemes and implementing them into a running business: on the one hand, a burdened company quests for powerful protection strategies for its products or brand. On the other hand, the implementation of these strategies must not require excessive modifications to the considered product respectively the products value chain. For instance, a common demand from a companys point of view is that general product functionalities must not be noticeably affected by the implemented protection feature. In other cases, lightweight constraints or after sales service requirements for convenient maintainability have to be considered. Due to such restrictions, companies are often facing a deadlock situation when trying to implement protective measures against product piracy. The PPC Matrix methodically resembles the well-established TRIZ Contradiction Matrix and is also based on Neemanns work (2007), who recently introduced a new approach for product-based imitation protection including a set of technical, strategic, organisational and legal instruments. The PPC Matrix combines both approaches to a new framework to help companies to overcome the above mentioned conflict. The article introduces the new methodology by giving detailed insights into its theoretical backbone, providing practitioners guidance and outlining examples from industry practice.