Friday, October 19, 2007

Here Come the Fakes

I knew it was only a matter of time before someone started ripping off my designs. I'm not talking about folks making items that are similar, I'm talking out and out counterfeits. And not so surprisingly it turns out to be Chinese in origin. This titanium "Prybaby" showed up recently on a popular Chinese version of Ebay. Price $12. It is the first I have seen of what is obviously a blatant rip off.

It really begs the question, why? Why is it that the Chinese can't come up with their own designs? Why is it that they make these copies instead of innovating? Why do they not have a sense of pride in their own creations and feel that they can just copy whatever they want? Why do they not respect what others have created? Why are they focussed only on making money at any cost including human and environmental costs? Why do we as a nation put up with it just so we can have our cheap dollar store goods and our Wal-Marts?

I'm not the only one who has had this happen of course. It is something that all companies must deal with and I have seen others going through all kinds of crap while trying to combat the fakes. I suppose it is a sign that I have "arrived" in some way and perhaps I should revel in this achievement. But somehow it still feels like a slap in the face.

BTW, In the above remarks I made broad reference to "the Chinese" as if all the Chinese people are guilty of this. Obviously they are not, it is certain people within their country and their government probably does not always cooperate in enforcement. I apologize for painting the situation with such a broad brush.


BigEd said...

Welcome to the world market...

It's a "coat tail" thing. Why would anyone buy an original design. They do not understand the draw or demand so they copy and hope for low cost and niche buyers who cannot or won't pay premium prices.

Why do they do it...because it MAKES MONEY! It's the @#$% buyers that keep it profitable. If anyone WOULD but a Atwood Knockoff for $12 then they WILL sell them.

EDC?CPF'rs won't but other priced out of the $60-$180 range WILL buy them and then they feed the process again...

I'll but them all and melt them down for you... cheap Ti or Stainless?


Anonymous said...


I feel for you. But don't you worry, I will continue to buy your works (when I can afford a little "luxury" or want a nice functional tool).

Just bought 4 pieces in one go!!

Very often, such copies are made by "businessmen". Out to make a quick and easy buck. Unfortunately, the "flavour" of the decade are the Chinese (mainlanders), that are prolific counterfeiters.

However, there are still quite a lot of true artists in China and other parts of the world that would share your feelings.

Hang in there, I know what is real and genuine. And I buy them from you, and not even eBay.

Saw someone trying to get US$90+ for a Keyton, :-(

Forgive the ranting.

Unknown said...

Two words for you Mr.Atwood- heart and soul. Your work is infinitely more valuable than anything mass produced by slave labor which is almost, by definition, utterly devoid of such.
You are/were brilliant to recognize the niche market for the items you have innovated. You are so successful at this point that demand seems to have far exceeded your ability to meet it (trust me I've been waiting for an A51 Mini Keyton for an eternity). This leaves the door open for opportunistic scavengers with no sense of business ethics whatsoever.
As much as I hate war, we have been on the receiving end (and sometimes willing victims) of economic warfare from Asian countries for quite a while now. Trillions of dollars in trade deficit is a staggering sum. How much less of a tax burden could the US alleviate from its citizens if we were to levy just a 1% tariff on that cheap garbage they dump on us? Quite a bit I'm sure.
The quality of your work, and the love you put into it, will prevail.

Anonymous said...

Sure, they could come up with their own design, but why should they? It's much more efficient to copy something that already works than to risk the costs of designing something that doesn't work.

It might not be morally right, but it's certainly a good decision from a business viewpoint. We (Americans) did the same thing to the British in the 19th century, making inexpensive and poor copies of high-end furniture and other goods.

I guess if there's a bright side, it's that you're worth copying!

Anonymous said...

Hola Peter.

My wife and I were shocked 2 yrs ago to find a measure for measure Chinese copy of our most popular product offered online, and even more so to find they had stolen word for word the description as well. We were able to get the distributer to remove the product from his website. We bought 1 from another site, just to see...TOTAL CRAP. We can advise you on how to track down the perps if you like.
Steve, WP4SM

Anonymous said...

It is not shocking. It is sad. Funny, I was just thinking yesterday how unique and desirable the Atwood tools really are...and after reading Cormac McCarthy's "The Road", how valuable these little pocket tools could be, always with you at the ready. The Chinese manufacturers need huge quantities to make a profit. It is sad they don't respect the Atwood design by licensing it, but they will never be able to offer the durable, bomb-proof quality of the originals. These tools are like fetishes to those of us"consuming" them! Don't let it get you down, Peter!

Anonymous said...

you probably shouldn't worry about it, because you're selling an entirely different product, although it may look the same.

I see your products as a heirloom good; the value is not just in the utility -- it's also in the story behind the item: the fact that it's designed and built by a single person and clearly created to be as close to perfection as possible.

Keep in mind too, that IKEA hasn't put furniture designers out of business, and H&M hasn't killed the world of fashion -- in some ways, they've actually created more customers for the latter.

I've been wanting to buy one of your tools for a good friend who has helped me on several projects (and as soon as I get the opportunity to buy one I think he'll like, i'll do so!); he's the type of guy who got me to start carrying a Leatherman and really made me appreciate well-made tools. This is who you're selling to; people who want to carry around something tangible made by someone 'real'.

Anyone who was going to buy one of your tools at the current price point is STILL going to buy one of your tools -- the people for whom the $12 tool is attractive were probably never going to buy anything from you, because admittedly, $50+ is a lot to pay for just a hand tool.

However, it's a *great deal* for a hand-made hand-designed hand tool -- and that's what you're selling.

Anonymous said...

Typically Asians are raised in cultures that reward conformity and punish innovation. You can see this in the heterogenity of their populations and shunning of foreigners (i.e. the half American Vietnamese children after 'Nam).
In their eyes, it is better to blend into the populace and enjoy the fruits of an equal society (where, ostensibly, everyone gets what they need from the "wisdom" of the collective), rather than the competition and benefits of a capitalistic society.
Sorry about the ripoffs, but that is to be expected these days. Perhaps you could offer a certificate of authenticity, which would stall their advance for a short time. Of course, eventually they could copy that too.

Peter Atwood said...

Thanks for the many interesting and thought provoking comments. ;)

Anonymous said...

I *completely* agree with ragaskar. More "PryBabies" might get sold, but the people that will buy that crap wouldn't buy from you anyway.

The real answer to your question though, is that American politicians have sold out American patent holders (and consumers), and bend over backwards to accommodate China at any cost so they won't call us out on our debt.

Fighting the Chinese theft of American and other Western intellectual property is something that needs to happen at the diplomatic level. Instead, we gave them Most Favored Nation status. Go us!

Keep voting for the wise and competent geniuses in BOTH parties who bring you these *benefits* of marketplaces without regard to national sovereignty, folks. And enjoy those cheap toasters. Unfortunately, we're getting exactly what we deserve.

As for me, for a split second, I thought we were getting Ti G2s! Get on it, dude! :-D

Anonymous said...

Maybe it would help if you occasionally had something in stock.

deano42 said...


David Gahan (front man for Depeche Mode) once said:

"If you ain't being bootlegged, then you ain't happening."

Peter, I would say "you are happening".!

Another quote is:

"To imitate someone is to pay the person a genuine compliment—often an unintended compliment".

Peter, I can see your frustration, it must be awful to see your own passion and innovation being copied - however you are the Brand behind all your tools.

Everyone that has purchased from you would purchase fromyou again and not even entertain these copies... so I do not see any direct loss of sales for your business.

If anything, some unfortunate person would buy one of these $12 toys, would realise sooner or later they have purchased a copy and then hunt down the real deal.!

Take care

Peter Atwood said...

Dear Anonymous,

Yeah, maybe that's it. Maybe I need to have something in stock once in a while. Maybe what I ought to do is hire a Chinese factory to crank this shit out for me by the millions and then I would have stock all the time.

Anonymous said...

Okay. I agree with anon, to a certain degree. Having been in the market for a number of your tools, just to see them drop off, and be told that no lists or suggestions are accepted... It's annoying to say the least, but not enough to lose me as a customer.

What IS enough to lose me as a customer is a hyper-generalized rant declaring a whole nation of disparate people thieves and lacking ethics. Tarring with a bit too wide of a brush?

I'm pretty disappointed, to say the least.

Peter Atwood said...

Hold on, I NEVER said all the Chinese people or other Asian folks were guilty of stealing designs and I certainly don't think that is true. But it is obviously a well documented problem that this goes on and now I have seen evidence of it for myself. Others who commented here may have said things and they are entitled to their opinion however well or ill stated it may be.

As for having stuff in stock, I really am just one guy as I have often said and can only make so much. It is not my fault things fly out the door when they do become available. Believe me, I do wish I could have a whole lot more done at all times but there are very real limits as to what I am able to accomplish. Sorry for the frustration that many people probably feel but all I can do is all I can do....

Peter Atwood said...

OK, actually, rereading it I did paint it with a rather broad brush and I should have said some Chinese manufacturers rather than the Chinese people in general which is what I meant. I apologize.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the clarification, Peter.

Anonymous said...

I'd honestly rather wait for one of your hand-crafted goodies (which always rock, btw!) than ever consider aiming for the mass-produced junk.

There's something to be said for quality and I've got to say that I've never once regretted any of the things I've purchased from you.

In_Flux said...

Hmmmm.. I'll bet they used lead paint on that cheap counterfeit too...

Peter Atwood said...

Rob, I get your reference of course but it's not painted. It is almost certainly titanium. Looking elsewhere on the seller's site he showed samples pieces illustrating all the colors available and they definitely went right up the color scale that you would expect to see.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this thread certainly got interesting. The issue here is classic supply and demand. Maybe Peter should hire a factory in China to churn out MSOP tools 24/7. But how would that work with his home-grown entrepreneurial creativity? And how long would the demand really last? How many potential consumers of MSOPs are there?

As for availability, there are other possible sources on the net for Peter's tools. Do some research. It takes desire, a little strategy, and lots of patience to score from the Atwood site, but it is well worth it for the uniqueness and quality of the products.

Anonymous said...

"Typically Asians are raised in cultures that reward conformity and punish innovation. You can see this in the heterogenity of their populations and shunning of foreigners (i.e. the half American Vietnamese children after 'Nam).
In their eyes, it is better to blend into the populace and enjoy the fruits of an equal society (where, ostensibly, everyone gets what they need from the "wisdom" of the collective), rather than the competition and benefits of a capitalistic society.
Sorry about the ripoffs, but that is to be expected these days. Perhaps you could offer a certificate of authenticity, which would stall their advance for a short time. Of course, eventually they could copy that too."

I'm sorry but by the looks of it, your definition of Asian seems to cover only the Chinese. Might I remind you that Asians are more than Chinese?

What you speak of, "In their eyes, it is better to blend into the populace and enjoy the fruits of an equal society (where, ostensibly, everyone gets what they need from the "wisdom" of the collective), rather than the competition and benefits of a capitalistic society." is extremely untrue. Though it may be true in the past, for China that is, it is a thing of the past. You'd be surprised by their capitalistic mindsets. Just FYI, you can see those cultures in countries where Communism prevails.

Imitation is a sad thing, but do you have to make such a sweeping statement? Your last sentence didn't help either. It gave me the impression that Asians or Chinese are morons.

To Peter:

Sorry about the ripoff. But hey! At least you know you're doing a damn good job! Your work must be worth copying, eh? Every cloud has a silver lining, right?

Anonymous said...


Have you ever thought of doing a collaboration with a tool or knife maker like Mick Strider and Tom Mayo have done with Buck? Just wondering.

Anonymous said...

You know you are a success when there are bootlegs of your stuff. That is a compliment. No bootleg will have the same quality as your work, and people that buy the knock offs will realize that.

Anonymous said...

Some very good points have been made with the previous posts, but just keep in mind that there are always people more attracted to cheap rather than quality, and you don't have any control over that. I understood you were just "venting" about the copy, and you had every right to do so.
I think the worst thing said in these posts, was you not having things in stock. Obviously this person does not get it...Just keep having fun and keep on doing what you are doing and don't worry about everyone else, your loyal customers have got your back!!

Anonymous said...

I resent this sort of ripoff, too. I remember one Chinese gov't official who deals with intellectual property rights mentioning it might take them 2-3 'generations' to entirely get rid of this act of thievery... :(

And BTW, please use caution when entering Chinese websites. They tend to be infested with viruses and malcodes!

Anonymous said...

"Maybe it would help if you occasionally had something in stock."

Looks to me someone missed the last wave of Crawdaddies LOL.
Peter be proud man!! You getting counterfeited, it was bound to happen bro, you're just too good. You are now in the upper class of NIKE, ROLEX, CARTIER, and others..Nothing to be afraid off. I love the hunt for your pieces, it makes them unique and highly sought after. To me this will only draw more traffic to your site, and more work to you...Keep it up!!

herbsandspices said...

Hey Peter,

This is one of the reasons why I avoid purchasing Chinese-made products. If I can't afford it, I save up.

Don't worry bud, we're not going anywhere! They can keep their clone Prybaby, and go ahead and stick it where the sun don't shine.