Thursday, March 26, 2015

Knife Clones, Counterfeits and Hypocrisy

I'm doing that thing where I write a post just off the cuff without giving you visual content. Sorry. I'm not sure why I've been in a ranting mood lately. Today I am talking about those Chinese brands like Sanrenmu, Ganzo and Enlan, but also pure counterfeits that look absolutely identical to the knife they mimic, to include the box and logos and whatever else. There is a gray area as well. It's well known that several of the Chinese outfits use the patented axis lock used by Benchmade. Many will argue that taking a patented design, then using it without permission or license is illegal and therefore essentially the same as counterfeit even when the knife isn't infringing on any other protected properties. I think that I agree. That aspect of that knife is in fact counterfeit whether the rest of it is or not. We're talking about China though, not America, and just because we do it here, doesn't mean any other countries care. The argument then progresses into morality because you can choose not to support these brands and that by purchasing their wares, you have crossed some moral line.

Fact is, that's all probably more or less true. Some people like to call it arguing semantics (ironic connection to one of my other rants) and others make a distinction between clone and counterfeit, and I do as well. But it's really not about semantics or morality. It's about hypocrisy. Benchmade, Spyderco, CRKT, Kershaw, Boker, Buck, the list goes on and on, and every single one of them uses or has used Chinese factories to increase their margins, and in fact, some of these very same factories. If you can argue that one Chinese company and their products steal business from one American company, then I can argue that every single Chinese employee making goods for American companies steals jobs from every single American company with an entirely American payroll, thereby stealing business from thousands of American companies and prospective companies. It is the policies of the Chinese as a nation that allow these practices to happen, so you don't get to draw convenient distinctions between one company and another. To say that you are morally superior to someone because you refuse to buy one counterfeit product makes you a raging hypocrite. You drive a counterfeit product, you wear counterfeit products, you have a house full of counterfeit products. As a nation we're in bed with China, as a consumer YOU are in bed with China, and these very same companies you so vigorously defend are in bed with the very same factories you condemn. There are two choices really. Get over it, or accept that you are a hypocrite. There is only one way to get around these two choices. Never buy another foreign made product again, and throw away every single one you own now. Let us know how that works out. You aren't going to do what it takes to really make a change in America, so save your self righteous hypocrisy.

Counterfeits are a real thing, Americans buy them, and there is a distinction between a counterfeit and a clone. The water does get muddy when a product typically considered a clone illegally uses a patented design and you're welcome to choose not to purchase that product for that very reason. It is entirely possible that pure counterfeits can be very bad for reasons beyond the obvious. The factories are unknown, the money could be going places that none of us would want. It's hard to tell and the unknown nature of these businesses is cause enough to avoid them. I can't, and won't argue with that and I don't personally have any interest in buying a purely counterfeit anything. But when it comes to places known to produce goods for US companies, any high horse attitude just isn't going to fly.