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Counterfeits, knock-offs, and copies


#1

I have to vent. First thing I did when I got home today from my day
job was play Howard Beale’s “Mad as Hell” rant from the movie
Network (1976). 35 years later it’s still a great speech. So what
set me off? This afternoon a coworker had a friend come into my
place of work with her counterfeit Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors,
Chanel, YSL handbags and fake Tiffany & Co. jewelry. The seller even
put together a catalog of all her counterfeits and knock-offs! How
did I know it was fake Tiffany’s? Easy. Even though it was clearly
embossed “Tiffany & Co.” and 925 it looked wrong. I say embossed
because I don’t know the process used to mark the pieces, but it was
almost as if it had been printed on. Not only that, but the heft was
wrong; I make chains, a lot of different kinds of chains, and this
did not feel right. Oh sure, it was probably silver plated and had a
nice finish on it, in fact so nice that it will probably never
tarnish, and all for $30. An actual Tiffany chain approximately the
same size and length would run about $850 according to their
website. Anyone from Tiffany’s on this forum? I’ll be happy to pass
the name of the seller onto you. Does Tiffany’s aggressively pursue
knock-offs? Why does this bother me? Because whether you are a mega
corporation or a drop in the ocean like me, it’s wrong.

One small ray of hope, after my encounter with the fakes today I
read that 150 domains were shut down in a probe of counterfeit
goods.

Guess where the sellers are located? You got it, China. And why did
I feel that I had to vent on Orchid? Because I believe in the honesty
and integrity I find here everyday regardless of the the differences
in opinions, and I damn well need to believe in something.

Howard Beale: I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody
knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or
scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth, banks
are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are
running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to
know what to do, and there’s no end to it. We know the air is unfit
to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV’s
while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen
homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s
supposed to be. We know things are bad - worse than bad. They’re
crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go
out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living
in is getting smaller, and all we say is, 'Please, at least leave us
alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my
steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.'
Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don’t
want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot - I don’t want you to
write to your congressman because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to
write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation
and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that
first you’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say, ‘I’m a HUMAN BEING,
God damn it! My life has VALUE!’ So I want you to get up now. I want
all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right
now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell,
‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’ I want
you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and
stick your head out and yell - ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going
to take this anymore!’ Things have got to change. But first, you’ve
gotta get mad!.. You’ve got to say, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not
going to take this anymore!’ Then we’ll figure out what to do about
the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up
out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell,
and say it: “I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS
ANYMORE!”

Priscilla Fritsch
Atlanta, GA


#2

One small ray of hope, after my encounter with the fakes today I
read that 150 domains were shut down in a probe of counterfeit goods.
"Here in Columbus Ohio the police & other assorted agency personnel
recently raided and shut down a large number of knock off vendors at
a drive in theater flea market just south of Delaware Ohio. Some day
I truly Hope people will understand that knock offs as a type of
theft are an issue of national economic security


#3

The problem is called ethics. Some folk do not have any.

John


#4
One small ray of hope, after my encounter with the fakes today I
read that 150 domains were shut down in a probe of counterfeit
goods. 

I am going to take a contrarian view on this subject. I believe the
more fakes there are, the better it is for the goldsmith profession.

Someone said that “you cannot cheat an honest man”. I will
paraphrase it by saying that it is not possible to sell a fake to
someone who knows how quality looks, and how valuable craftsmanship
is. Bargain hunters will always be snookered by fakes, but this is a
marketplace cleansing process. After bargain hunters run out of
money, only the real customers will remain. So long live fakes and
knock offs.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#5

Early in my career one of my jeweler mentors had sharp words for me
after I made a piece that closely resembled his work. I took it
apart, apologized, and realized he had given me a great gift. Take
the techniques, but do your own creative work with them, and respect
every moment that a mentor chooses to spend with you.

I’ve had people knock off my pieces, and it has never been a nice
experience.

The most recent was from a young man; I was asked by his school to
mentor him when he was 13 years old. A few years later he decided to
develop his own watch case design, and I was justifiably proud of his
accomplishment. He was written up in IW magazine.

Two years ago, IW approached him about including some nautical theme
watches for a special issue. He approached me to make a compass rose
dial, I suggested something quite different. Ivory dials with
scrimshaw. I introduced him to a local scrimshander, made a prototype
dial and drilled a number of dials for him.

I have had zero attribution for my efforts in the second and third IW
articles. Not a word of thanks, and for a year have had a close
friend pester me with “Why hasn’t he given you a watch?”

I know 5 or so other people who have mentored this young man over the
years. Am I right in thinking that this is deeply disrespectful and
dismissive of them as well?

Rick


#6

Unfortunately, our FTC guidlines are in need of a revamp to protect
our designs. 10% difference in the end result is not enough


#7
I am going to take a contrarian view on this subject. I believe
the more fakes there are, the better it is for the goldsmith
profession. 

So Leonid, you’d be okay with someone copying your designs and
selling them as yours, for 1/2 the price of the originals? How about
if I make copies of your DVDs and sell them? Is that acceptable as
well?

I’m willing to bet that you would change your tune if your
intellectual property was being ripped off.

Counterfeiting does no one any good, except for the counterfeiter.

Cheree, in cloudy Maryland where it finally feels like Autumn.


#8

Rick,

Was part of your instruction for this young man the same belief
system you have about respect and etiquette? If not then he can
hardly be blamed for not having your views. If you did then he either
ignored that lesson or forgot it.

As to what makes it into articles…well…I have yet to read an
accurate quote of mine in ANY publication…even those I have written
myself. Once the words leave your lips they are no longer
yours…they are on the wind and in the ears of others…the wind
scatters them and ears are just echoes. Print and video and tape are
different…but since other people edited those you get what you
get. It may be that he waxed poetically about his five teachers, but
that is not germain to the article, the editor,the author and was
dropped.

Aspiring your belief and ethics to others is a great way to be
disappointed. If it bothers you then grab the student by the lapel,
force him against the wall and ask in very small short words what the
situation is…the answer will not be what you have thought I am
sure. I little violence is uncommon these days and as such will make
an impression…where, apparently, you feel your past words have
not.20

Ric Furrer
blacksmith
Sturgeon Bay, WI


#9
I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open
them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and
I'm not going to take this anymore!' Things have got to change.
But first, you've gotta get mad!... You've got to say, 'I'm as mad
as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Then we'll
figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and
the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, openthe
window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: "I'M AS MAD AS
HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!

I want to give my opinion on this. First, your rant, on which I will
be short. Here in Bordeaux, there are lot of Russians too, as well as
a l of the Arabs and furthermore, I believe, every nationality under
the sun and the level of criminality here is much the same as it was
30 years ago. It makes not the difference. Second, your story. I have
been a goldsmith for more than 35 years and, gradually, my opinions
changed concerning the counterfeit and the knock-offs. I had my own
work copied and I did not give the damn about it. I saw it as a
compliment and… I made another piece. But that is just me. I think
that everyone who makes a sterling silver chain for $ 850 asks for it
and, more so, deserves to be counterfeited. Because it is grotesque.
It is a perversion. I can buy all the T-shirts I want, but I would
never buy a T-shirt from Michael Kors, instead I wear one which costs
3 Euro. It’s a fine T-shirt. You say that knock-offs are wrong, but
selling a T-shirt for $ 60 or more is okay for you as well as the
silver chain for $ 850. It isn’t for me. The one is as dishonest as
the other, or, actually, selling the silver chain for $ 850 is far
more dishonest in my view. I also understand that it is bon ton to
bash at the Chinese, but this is short sighted, because the Chinese
economy started to develop when multinational corporations, first and
the foremost, American ones, started to produce in China. And so,
what you are describing is just globalised capitalism driven by the
cost of labour and nothing else. We know from history that this is
not viable and being mad and screaming through the window will not
help, but regulation will.


#10

Knock-offs, copies and counterfeits are not the same thing. I
suspect Leonid was talking about knock-offs and copies, not
counterfeits.

Elliot Nesterman


#11
So Leonid, you'd be okay with someone copying your designs and
selling them as yours, for 1/2 the price of the originals? How
about if I make copies of your DVDs and sell them? Is that
acceptable as well? 

Go right ahead. Designs by themselves are nothing without technique.
You may be able to imitate appearance, but it would never withstand
direct examination. So whoever buys from you will be wasting his/her
money, and it is only a matter of time before they come to me for the
original.

As far as DVD(s), that is fine too. If my memory serves me right,
the fine for intentional infringement is up to $150,000. It applies
to both parties. Even if a buyer could claim innocent infringement,
it is still $700 minimum. I actually like that. $700 instead $42! I
take this deal every time.

The point is that fakers and counterfeiters serve useful function.
They teach businesses to protect their intellectual property, and
they teach bargain hunters the perils of buying cheap. That is why I
like them.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#12

Rick, not everyone has a thankful spirit. Whether people go on
mentoring him would have to do with their reasons in mentoring in the
first place. Thanks for sharing

Barbara


#13
The one is as dishonest as the other, or, actually, selling the
silver chain for $ 850 is far more dishonest in my view. 

Why is pricing a silver chain at $850 “dishonest”, as you say,
actually far more dishonest than the theft of intellectual property?
Do you really contend that my selling an item for more than YOU think
it’s worth is more of a crime than if I were to steal an idea, design
or concept and make a profit from that theft? For real? How much is
an Apple IPod worth? At what price does selling it become dishonest?
How should such a threshold be determined? By whom?

It is a perversion. I can buy all the T-shirts I want, but I would
never buy a T-shirt from Michael Kors, instead I wear one which
costs 3 Euro. It's a fine T-shirt. You say that knock-offs are
wrong, but selling a T-shirt for $ 60 or more is okay for you as
well as the silver chain for $ 850. It isn't for me. 

What you are describing is pure and simple free market capitalism at
work and your completely voluntary participation in it. If you don’t
like something or think it’s too expensive, you don’t have to buy it.
If enough people agree with you, then that $60 price drops to $10. If
on the other hand, enough other people don’t agree, then that $60 tee
shirt might become a collectible and all of a sudden might be found
on EBay with a starting bid of $600. So what if it does? How exactly
does that hurt you? Or anybody else for that matter? I really want to
know why that is such a bad thing.

what you are describing is just globalised capitalism driven by
the cost of labour and nothing else. 

Nothing is driven by the cost of labor and nothing else. Labor by
itself is nothing. If there isn’t any market, there isn’t any need
for labor, cheap or otherwise. I would think you would have more of a
beef with a government that artificially keeps labor so cheap rather
than the market that takes advantage of that kind of government
intervention done at the expense of their own people. How would the
lives of the people of China be enhanced or improved if all outside
markets were closed entirely to them because the rest of the world
decided that their government’s pricing of labor was too cheap? Do
you really think that would do anything to help the Chinese people?
Or might it cause many of them to lose their jobs and make ALL tee
shirts cost $60? Then would the price be OK so long as the Chinese
people weren’t getting shafted anymore? Or is it OK for them to get
the shaft as long as the shaft is coming from their own government
and not from free market capitalists?

We know from history that this is not viable and being mad and
screaming through the window will not help, 

You must have different history books than I do. I can’t for the
life of me find where in history capitalism, global or otherwise, has
proven unviable, unless it has been so heavily regulated that it
really isn’t capitalism anymore, but fascism (government control of
private enterprise) or socialism (government ownership and control of
all enterprise). Both of those have a historical record of failure.
You’re right about anger, cursing and screaming have a proven history
of not being helpful to anyone in any situation. But unfettered
capitalism has worked everywhere it has been tried, including in
China where, as you pointed out, even though it is fettered, it is
happening right before our very eyes. Open the full Chinese market to
the capitalism of the global marketplace and watch how it grows and
improves the lifestyles of the lowly (and imho much undervalued)
Chinese people!

but regulation will. 

If things really are as you say and regulation of the marketplace is
the key to prosperity, Burma (I still refuse to use the Government
Approved name of Myanmar) would be a burgeoning economic powerhouse
right now. North Korea’s economy would be the envy of the world. Such
is not the case, and the evils of capitalism have nothing to do with
it, except for the fact that capitalism isn’t practiced or even
allowed in either nation. You can’t blame capitalism for problems in
places where capitalism is explicitly outlawed. Their economic
malaise is the direct result of government regulation and
intervention in the marketplace. That is actually something we do
know from history, if we really want to look at history accurately
and not just as an esoteric place to find what we want to find. As
Tim Russert once said, “we are all entitled to our own opinion, we
are not however, entitled to our own facts.”

I love you Jacques, but you really should read something other than
those anti-capitalist blogs once in a while!

Dave Phelps


#14

Hi Rick,

I know 5 or so other people who have mentored this young man over
the years. Am I right in thinking that this is deeply disrespectful
and dismissive of them as well? 

It would have been nice to have been mentioned, by that young man,
but children today have a tendency to be self focused (I’m attempting
to bring my children up differently), and probably didn’t even think
that he hurt your feelings…

I don’t think it’s disrespect, just thoughtlessness. It seems to be
a symptom of the young these days.

Regards Charles A.


#15
Knock-offs, copies and counterfeits are not the same thing. I
suspect Leonid was talking about knock-offs and copies, not
counterfeits. 

And, may I add, I would consider marking something as silver when it
is NOT, is counterfeiting!

Margaret


#16

Leonid and All

As far as DVD(s), that is fine too. If my memory serves me right,
the fine for intentional infringement is up to $150,000. It applies
to both parties. Even if a buyer could claim innocent infringement,
it is still $700 minimum. I actually like that. $700 instead $42! I
take this deal every time. 

From what little I have seen the laws about selling dvd copies are
extremely difficult to impossible to enforce by large movie
production companies let alone the individual. I think it far more
likely that someone will post Leonid’s entire video for free viewing
on one of the many such hosting sites. I have seen this on youtube
for blacksmith related videos and though there are steps to having
it removed they are slow and largely ineffective. So getting your
$700 per viewing would be a bit difficult Leonid…let along having
the video removed from the US/Austrian/Swiss/Canadian/Czech/“insert
nationality” here individual who just posted it in four parts.

As I will shortly be releasing a video it is concern of mine as
well.

The other side of the coin to having laws upheld is that you, the
offended party, would need to pursue the claim…so your ?$700? per
copy, not sure where you get that number, (hard to prove how many
copies were sold or bought by whom by the way) is now far less than
that. AND you are trying to get the money from folk who bought the
dvd maybe thinking it was yours…doubt that will get you many
sales afterwards from them. Most of the laws I see come into effect
for over ten dvd’s bought…and as low as zero sold (just having them
on hand to sell).

Ric Furrer
Blacksmith
Sturgeon Bay, WI


#17

Jacques,

I can buy all the T-shirts I want, but I would never buy a T-shirt
from Michael Kors, instead I wear one which costs 3 Euro. It's a
fine T-shirt. You say that knock-offs are wrong, but selling a
T-shirt for $ 60 or more is okay for you as well as the silver
chain for $ 850. It isn't for me. 

Come on… that is pretty weak and you know it. I don’t think it
even has to be pointed out where this mindset fails.

Daily there is junk mail in my inbox with a subject line that goes
something like, “FINE JEWELRY: HAVE THAT EXPENSIVE LOOK FOR LESS”.
Now, that seems like a worthy goal to me. How does that work for
you??

Of course money isn’t everything, but after all it does beat out
what is second best. What about the illusion of having money? Does
that rank somewhere between the two?

J Collier Metalsmith
http://jlcollier.com


#18

Hello Monsieur Phelps, I was surprised to read your reaction, but I
am glad that you love me. Merci, I love yo too, not the problem.
However, let me give you my reaction. "Why is pricing a silver chain
at $850 “dishonest”, as you say,actually far more dishonest than the
theftof intellectual property?

Do you really contend that my selling an item for more than YOU
thinkit’s worth is more of a crime than if I were to steal an idea,
designor concept and make a profit from that theft?" Sure. Let me
see. The price of silver is appr. $ 34 per ounce, yes?, so just
let’s assume that I need two ounces, because I want a sturdy chain,
so I am too lazy to make this, I would give it to one of my workers,
so there is labour in it, say one hour and 60 grams of the Sterling,
so let’s say this costs me 90 Euro in labour and appr. 60 Euro for
the silver - of course I can make a chain with much less, but okay,
so this is 150 Euro, but Tiffany does not make the chains like this,
well, I assume, it’s not handwork at all, so, I am sure that their
labour is way less, so let’s say they make the chain for $ 130, why
exactly do they have to make $ 720 profit on a silver chain I do not
understand and I never will? But, sure thing, you gave the answer,
although I am sure you do not understand the consequences of it, it
is ‘pure and simple free market capitalism’ and ‘my completely
voluntary participation in it’.

You are right, of course, I have never been for capitalism; one of
the many reasons why not is that I am for free markets for some
products and in capitalism, there are cartels, monopolies and
something we use to call lobbies but we should call blackmailing and
buying governments now. Also, of course, my participation in free
market capitalism is not voluntary at all. If I live in the America,
I can choose not to have health care or participate in health care
driven by the profit motive.

This is not really a ‘choice’ as I cannot choose to have good health
care without participating in capitalism, something which is,
however, possible in France. I do not know what to make of your
statements saying that the labour is nothing. Capitalism is a
geographical project, always in flux, going there were labour is
cheapest, were regulations are the most lax. It has not much to do
with the existing or not existing markets, because capitalism is
global now and so is the Fordism, the old model or manufacturing and
creating markets in the same places - manufacturing can happen
everywhere and consumption can be everywhere else. The new model is
called flexible accumulation, and it does not work in
contradistinction to Fordism, which worked for a couple of decennia,
because the America and the Europe cannot compete with low labour
costs in China and the South East Asia - there is simply not one
single trump card left (so, Krugman and his theory of international
trade are wrong): the Chinese, the Indian, the Indonesians and so on
speak English as well as the Americans do and they spell it better;
technological advances take place everywhere, since there are smart
people everywhere; new technology makes it possible to manufacture
something in 15 places at once - one part in China, another in South
America, another in Israel, this happens full swing… At the same
time, the average industrial wage in China is $ 380 a month. There is
no way for the America or the Europe to gain productivity - and this
is the essence of the whole problem. If we, as by the magic, could
invent a machine that could make what the Chinese also make, but 25
times quicker, there would be no worries, but there is no such
machine. There has not been any substantial gain in productivity in
the Europe or the America for a long time. And so, we are losing the
race. We, it is to say, the populations. We will see a deeper divide
in our societies, we will get less rich, and many things we assumed
were in order will become a real problem and a fight. And this whole
process is driven by the cost of labour. “You must have different
history books than I do. I can’t for thelife of me find where in
history capitalism, global or otherwise, hasproven unviable, unless
it has been so heavily regulated that it really isn’t capitalism
anymore, but fascism (government control of private enterprise) or
socialism (government ownership and control ofall enterprise). Both
of those have a historical record of failure.” Well, this is simply
not true, but do not take my word for it. Read Karl Polanyi’s The
Great Transformation. Unfettered capitalism, which only existed for
perhaps 2 or 3 decades in the 19th century, was so destructive that
very quickly a lot of laws were made to transform it. But read
Polanyi about it. And you mindblow me. Are you really in earnest
going to say, after all that has happened recently, that we need
freeer markets? The financial meltdown could only happen because
financial institutions were deregulated and left alone and because
bankers were sitting in governments all over the world. And they are
still sitting there and in the meantime, millions of workers are
unemployed. And the last thing on their minds is trying to do
something to alleviate this misery. This, indeed, is capitalism. I
will talk about intellectual property another time, but I think that
this is the problem which leads to the infinite regress. Show me any
model of ring you like and I will most probably find you a ring which
is pretty much the same but which was made in antiquity or in the
middle ages. We, goldsmiths, are all members of something greater
than any of our products and strivings, we are part of a tradition, a
craft, an art. Someone invented the wheel way before our time, still
we all use it and never think about it. We all do bead setting,
although we did not invent it. You can say that this is a process and
not an end product, but so what? It has not the importance. If you go
to my website and you ‘steal’ one of my creations, so it means you
can copy it, so it was not very distinctive to begin with. In this
sense, although it has, I admit, some limited use, legal copyright is
a lot of the bullshit. If you want to ‘copyright’ your pieces, make
something that is so distinctive that only you can make it, make
something so that people know immediately that it was you who made it
and not something else.

A ‘signature’ should be IN the piece. No one can write music like
Beethoven, no one even ever tried. And so it is unique.


#19

Once upon a time a long time ago I was on a vacation and purchased a
canvas style Coach purse from an Outlet Mall. The purse was more
than half price off the regular price. At that time I was a college
student and it was an expensive purchase for me. About a year later
the purse had faded into this weird color. I called the company
(Coach) and let them know. They had me send the purse in to them
which cost me about 20$ to ship. I told them I DID NOT have a
receipt and that I bought it at an Outlet Store and I used the purse
everyday for a year.Coach sent me a letter back after they received
the purse: ‘We are sorry we sold you a product made from faulty
materials…’ A check for $280, which was the retail price of the
purse and my 20$ in shipping costs… The check was made out to me,
not a store credit. The end of their letter stated, 'We hope you will
consider purchasing another Coach purse in the future.'I was
shocked.Guess what ~ I only have Coach purses hanging in my closet
now. I won’t buy another purse or bag. They are expensive but they
are guaranteed for life by a company that stands behind their word.A
counterfeit product cannot do this: The person buying the counterfeit
is throwing money away. It’s a fools errand. They can buy a dozen
chains that are counterfeit ‘Tiffany’ chains and they will flake,
break, turn green and be junk. By the time the end of a woman’s life
is near the 850$ Tiffany chain is a bargain because it still has
value. One hundred years later it still retains it’s value…and
they will stand behind it. That is smart shopping.The women I know
that have bought knock-off purses: Louis Vuitton, Coach, Gucci…
The strap breaks in one year, the zipper breaks in a year, the snaps
fall apart, the lining tears…all with in a year the purse is
junk. They buy another one! They have 10 knock-offs ~ all about
$50-100 each. They could have bought the real thing a couple of times
over and still have it and it would be in perfect condition. Amazing,
thoughtless and senseless. These same women will ask me why I would
buy a real one??? ‘It’s so expensive!’ Little do they know that I
have spent way less money then them on a piece of quality that will
probably never break and if it does will be replaced.I hate
couterfeits…it’s mean to these companies even the big companies
that seemly have endless money. However the counterfeits sure can
make the real thing look great!:wink:

joy kruse


#20

Thank you Dave. In retrospect, I should have entitled my post
"Counterfeits and Fraud". My point was that registered trademarks are
illegally copied with the intent to profit off the brand. For many,
imitation is a sincere form of flattery, however how would you feel
if those imitating you also marked their inferior quality goods made
from inferior quality material with your maker’s mark or registered
trademark? If you don’t mind others passing their poor workmanship
off as yours, then so be it. As I originally posted, whether you are
a mega corporation or a one person business, counterfeiting is fraud
and is illegal. Otherwise wouldn’t we all be printing money in our
basements? I see no difference between counterfeit goods or
counterfeit money.