Home » Copyright/Intellectual Property » Amazon And Ebay Opened Pandora’s Box Of Chinese Counterfeits And Now Don’t Know What To Do

Amazon And Ebay Opened Pandora’s Box Of Chinese Counterfeits And Now Don’t Know What To Do

29 October 2017

From Forbes:

A few years ago in California, a professional cartoonist, a designer of golf putters, a surfer, and a self-professed geek got together and formed a company. No, this isn’t the start of a bad joke, it’s the very real story of four guys and one good idea — a story of grassroots entrepreneurship and the struggle of the little guy against the tides of global e-commerce.

These four Californians who couldn’t have been more different bonded together over the simple fact that they were all dads who shared a similar struggle when bathing their babies. They decided that together they would solve this problem, and they set to work developing a specialized pillow that could be inserted into a sink or tub that would hold their babies in place. They called it the Blooming Bath.

They then patented the product, trademarked it, passed it through all of the required materials and safety tests, and eventually took it to market. Almost immediately, sales and major design awards began rolling in, and, for a moment, it appeared as if these four random dads from California had it made:

“When you can take a problem and solve it, that feels great. And when you can take a problem and solve it for a lot of other people, that feels even better. But when you can take a problem and turn the answer into something that’s just so darn adorable – well, there’s just no topping that.”

Perhaps unfortunately, Chinese counterfeiters also found the Blooming Bath adorable — so darn adorable, in fact, that they decided to copy it and sell it themselves on Amazon and Ebay.

. . . .

Now, the original creators of the Blooming Bath are watching their earnings slip and their reputation get dismantled by forces that are beyond their control. Not only are they losing sales but recipients of inferior-quality fake Blooming Baths are often not aware that they received a counterfeit, and mistakenly conclude that the legitimate product is junk — and often letting the world know about it via word of mouth and reviews.

Link to the rest at Forbes

PG notes that counterfeit merchandise predated Amazon and Ebay by a very long time.

The first time he ever visited New York City, long before the Internet was anything, a street vendor offered to sell him a “Rolex” at a very low price.

Copyright/Intellectual Property

10 Comments to “Amazon And Ebay Opened Pandora’s Box Of Chinese Counterfeits And Now Don’t Know What To Do”

  1. ItReading the full article it very much sounds like Forbes approves of the Nock-off market. Because the Chinese share everything (public bowl). The idea that a person can’t make a living off of creating something new is disgusting. This works for China because they don’t make anything new, they let the rest of the world do it for them.

  2. This is solvable. Take a look at electrical products that have UL listing, or plumbing products that have UPC (Uniform Plumbing Code) seal of approval. These are independent organization that inspect, test, monitor and vouch for the products adhering to certain standards. In the case against counterfeiters such an organization (which doesn’t exist today) could assure the public that the product is manufactured by a licensed supplier. It wouldn’t be a free service, but it would be something to prove that you buy a genuine product. Amazon could do this.

    • I’m sure UL stickers are easy to copy.

      • Just as easy as, say, “Calvin Klein” labels. It’s not just on the streets, either – major retailers have had, and do have, issues with counterfeit goods hitting their shelves. Too many points in modern supply chains to monitor all of them adequately. (Plus, so many legitimate products are made in Red China these days – how do you actually tell the difference? Until the knock-offs fall apart, short out, or dye you interesting colors, that is.)

        • Don’t assume what you’re being told about “counterfeits” is entirely true. Many “knock-off” products are actually legitimate, sometimes referred to as the ‘grey’ market.

          The dirty little secret behind these is that a factory might run two shifts making sneakers or whatever for their western customers and then run another shift making the exact same item and then ease them out the side door into whatever channels they can manage. These aren’t “knock-offs” made by some other fly by night company – they’re the real deal.

          There was an article awhile ago about some expensive golf club set that a fellow visiting china was able to get for a fraction of the US price. A representative of he affected company was screaming about counterfeits and how horrible they were, but the golf clubs were exactly the same as the expensive set – they just weren’t marked up 1000%.

          This problem is a problem for western rights holders. Chinese factories see those huge margins and can’t help but want a piece of the action.


    • The theory is fine, but the application is very difficult. Researching an endorsement from anyone would take a very large effort, and be a significant impediment to entering the market.

      Amazon has millions of products and sellers. I’d be interested in how many new products are listed each day.

      Just determining which products need an endorsement is a huge task, and that’s before researching the endorsement.

      They might run a test by demanding authors prove copyright before posting their book, and then watch the backlog of submitted but unavailable books grow.

      Meanwhile, AliBaba waits and watches…

    • This is not only about certifying that a product is genuine, but policing it as well. That’s why Amazon could do this by becoming the certificator and enforcer. That’s the only way it could work. Question is, is there money for Amazon in marginalizing the counterfeiters.

      • “Question is, is there money for Amazon in marginalizing the counterfeiters.”

        Is it a good product?

        Amazon is all about the buyer – not the supplier. If the buyers love getting a good knock-off brand at a fraction of the real-name price, Amazon will do nothing. Now if the knock-off is crap and the buyers are demanding refunds and otherwise complaining? Yeah, Amazon will go after those because they are making Amazon look bad.

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