It seems that there is more and more counterfeit gear available in our industry. You see advertised in a variety of places like Facebook and eBay. But is it causing harm to the industry? Well it seems to me that there is a lot of harm being done and it seems some companies are starting to fight back against companies that produce and sell counterfeits. Clay Paky is one such company that is fighting back. Recently in the UK a prolific counterfeiter Michael Reader was in fact sentenced to 2 ½ years goal time. He was found guilty of 13 charges that included selling counterfeit goods to a school in Bristol. This case is trading standard services largest cases they have undertaken in the UK. Over 4000 items were seized worth 250,000 pounds. These items included Sennheiser, Apple and Monster Cable. He is believed to have had more items in his possession at the time of his arrest.
Speaking with the BBC, Sennheiser’s Volker Bartels, president, corporate services and spokesperson of the Executive Management Board concluded:
“(Counterfeit product) damages the trust in our brand, it damages the trust in our company because what people expect when they buy Sennheiser products is quality, great customer service… and what they get is crap. This is a clear motivator for us to go after this, and to support everybody who’s joining the fight (against) counterfeit products.” Source : http://www.psneurope.com
Whilst this was happening the spectre of copies flared on certain Facebook groups. Someone was proudly selling copies of a well-known speaker brand. The sellers point in selling was “but for the work I do i don’t need to spend the earth to get the job done” and was quite happy to boast that they was more copies of well-known brand on the way, even though they had a different badge on them. It seems obvious that some people are willing to sell equipment that is deliberate copies of well-known brands. The purchase of this copied equipment is taking money from those companies that have spent hundreds of thousands if not millions on researching and developing their product. Surely they are entitled to get a return on their investment. So buying copies or counterfeits is the same as stealing from the original designers and manufacturers. I have said it before but I am going to repeat it. If you have designed something or created something that toke a lot of your time and money would you like it if someone then copied it and made money from it. I am sure you would be pissed off if this happened to you.
So where should the blame be placed in regards to the fakes that are making it to our shores? It seems that some companies are after the quick dollar and are will to import this gear and hope that the end purchaser is gullible enough to buy the equipment. In fact I can imagine that some re-sellers of this gear are passing it off as the well-known brand, or saying that it is made under license. So we could blame these companies for the imported counterfeit and dodgy gear, but they are not the only ones to blame. Surely some of the blame rests on the end user for not researching and making sure that the equipment they are buying is fit for the purpose. Especially if it has a similar name. We all want the equipment at a cheap price, but surely if the deal sounds really cheap there must be something wrong with the gear or the deal. Now we all know about tight budgets but surely buying substandard equipment it not a good way to save money, what do you do if it breaks down? Can you get spares? Do the suppliers have a good back up service? Can the ship you a replacement fast? Especially in the middle of a season, is the warranty a return to country of manufacture or to the local distributor? And last but not least does it perform as well as for as long as the real equipment.
Now I understand that people do not want to spend loads of cash on equipment, and maybe they do not want to buy big brand name equipment. They may not need that kind of equipment for the tasks they require it for; well there is a lot of reasonably priced gear out there that does a very serviceable job. You don’t need knock off copies.
Also why buy gear that potentially will not last as long as the real deal? Will not perform as well? Why give ourselves more headaches. We are only going to have to spend money again when the counterfeit gear packs it in.
If you are buying brand name audio or lighting make sure you buy it from the distributor, this information can be found on the company’s web site. The last place to look is on eBay or similar sites, these are the places some of the more dodgy companies peddle their wares.
You just have to look at the websites that sell this gear to know how much of a problem it is becoming. Is the western world being invaded by dodgy gears and not guns? It is a rather large world market that is being copied from microphones to moving lights. No manufacture seems to escape this insidious disease. So we all need to work together to fight this. Everyone from the purchasers to the manufacturers need to work together on this. We need to report these “illegal” copies to the right authorities and also the company who gear is being copied.
This issue is affecting our industry and we need to stand together to make it stop.