I need a phrase to mean process of copying somebody's work is in the context of industry/manufacturing. Is there a concise phrase with the meaning similar to "plagiarism" by a competitor in business (e.g. copy a car engine or design of the car)? I am describing a situation where a competitor can benefit from the lack of R&D costs, and bring their product to market with a higher profit margin.

  • reproduction
  • cloning
  • replication

I think "This was done to make the reproduction of their work by competitors more difficult." sounds not so bad and also doesn't lose the desired meaning.

The style is that of a technical register.

It seems that counterfeiting is too strict for the current sentence.

Perhaps I should restructure the sentence:

Not least of all it was done to make the reproduction and distribution of their work (e.g. through reverse engineering of products and technological processes) by competitors more difficult (as the result of competing in manufacturing speed).

In this way both meanings are covered, though it is not a single word nor a phrase, rather enumeration of the senses: reproduction (clone/copy) and distribution (selling).

  • Reverse engineering, perhaps? Mar 3, 2014 at 21:15
  • I thought about it, but this word emphasizes the process of disassembling and figuring out how does the stuff work, not the "reproducing" part of the meaning. But the word "reproduce" has not really the meaning of the "plagiarism"
    – static
    Mar 3, 2014 at 21:22
  • I think there is a bigger barrier here. You want one word to tell two stories. They stole the idea and sold it. I don't think a single word covers it in the sense you want to convey.
    – David M
    Mar 4, 2014 at 3:17
  • and again I think similar: already added the new variant with reproduction and distribution (see. update 3)
    – static
    Mar 4, 2014 at 3:23
  • 1
    No problem. It was my pleasure to help.
    – David M
    Mar 4, 2014 at 3:47

4 Answers 4


Counterfeit might fit. It implies the imitation of an original product.

To counterfeit means to imitate something. Counterfeit products are fake replicas of the real product.

Counterfeit products are often produced with the intent to take advantage of the superior value of the imitated product.

The word counterfeit frequently describes both the forgeries of currency and documents, as well as the imitations of clothing, handbags, shoes, pharmaceuticals, aviation and automobile parts, watches, electronics (both parts and finished products), software, works of art, toys, movies.

enter image description here

From International Trademark Association:

Counterfeiting is the practice of manufacturing goods, often of inferior quality, and selling them under a brand name without the brand owner’s authorization.

Anything that can be made can be counterfeited.


The noun knockoff means

(slang) a copy or imitation; esp., an inexpensive copy, as of a fashionable clothing design (also ) ˈknock-ˌoff

The verb form knock off means

(US, slang) to make a knockoff of

This term can be applied to imitating product design or construction, as well as trademark infringement or counterfeiting.

The term rip-off is sometimes also applied to imitiation, but its basic meaning is

the act or an instance of stealing, cheating, exploiting, misrepresenting, etc.

  • my fault: I did not mention the style where the sentence is placed is rather technical, so slang doesn't really fit there. But still, thank you for the precise slang variant!
    – static
    Mar 4, 2014 at 2:50

Counterfeiting implies that you are passing off a copy as the original.

Reproducing is the process of copying itself, but does not imply the illicit sales angle.

Intellectual property (often abbreviated IP) is the set of ideas, manufacturing methods, etc. that go into making a product. I think you are trying to say: Infringing upon intellectual property or Patent infringement

For a slightly less technical/legal usage: Intellectual property theft

In the end, the crime is not just the production, but rather the theft of the idea behind the product.

See here for a better definition of IP

Given your updated sentence:

This was done in an attempt to protect their intellectual property from the competition and prevent the loss of their advantage in the market.

  • "... but does not imply the illicit sales angle." - precise remark (I think so)! infringement is too legal/law/juristical for the text
    – static
    Mar 4, 2014 at 3:01
  • @static That is correct. I can reproduce something without selling it. Scientific studies are frequently reproduced to attempt to find similar findings. The process is not only legal, but encouraged.
    – David M
    Mar 4, 2014 at 3:04
  • @static If you are writing for a technical journal or similar, IP theft may be the term you wish to use. Although, infringement is a frequently used term in technical circles these days.
    – David M
    Mar 4, 2014 at 3:07
  • I would also ask colleagues to chose from all of the answers here. Maybe you are right about infringement variant. Anyway thank you for the discussion and help!
    – static
    Mar 4, 2014 at 3:20
  • @static Take a look at my update. The last sentence says what you wished to say in a smaller package.
    – David M
    Mar 4, 2014 at 3:22

To avoid the connotations of illegality or underhandedness in plagiarism but still maintain that the work was not of the competitors' own design, I recommend imitation. Because imitation here means "the act or an instance of imitating," let us consider the the related verb imitate. TFD cites AHD with

  1. To use or follow as a model.
  2. .
    1. To copy the actions, appearance, mannerisms, or speech of; mimic: amused friends by imitating the teachers.
    2. To copy or use the style of: brushwork that imitates Rembrandt.
  3. To copy exactly; reproduce.

Imitation has even been used to describe copying that has been done as a compliment to its inventor, as in the phrase "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery".

Example usage in the sentence you provided:

This was done to make the imitation of their work by competitors more difficult.

  • I choose the counterfeiting, but it is rather subjective choice for the given text. I think imitating is also suitable, though it has a bit of behavioral aspect of reproducing meaning (in my opinion, based on the definitions: copy actions, mimic: imitating teachers)
    – static
    Mar 4, 2014 at 2:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.