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Knock It Off!




Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but not if it cuts into your business!

Manufacturers who spend great effort and time to develop and promote products, once they are successful, often find that imitators are looking for a free-ride by copying either the trademark and trade dress of the product or the product design itself, or both!

Such knock-off products are usually significantly cheaper and involve inferior manufacturing, thus less value to the consumer. We've all seen boot-leg VHS or DVD movies, fake brand name purses, and fake brand name watches, the movies are not of good quality, the purses poorly made, the watches of much inferior quality. In extreme cases, such as in imitation pharmaceutical products, customer's health and even lives may be endangered by untested and unregulated drugs sold over the internet.

Consumers often confuse these knock-off products with the real thing and blame the poor quality on the real owner/manufacturer, thus tarnishing the hard won reputation of the real manufacturer.

Even when consumers are aware that the knock-offs are not the real thing, a flood of low quality imitations dilutes the value of the original products and trademarks (brand names) of the real manufacturer.

Consumers can protect themselves by being careful about not buying counterfeit products on street corners or over the internet, and examining goods carefully in stores and flea-markets.

Manufacturers can protect themselves by filing to protect their intellectual property rights, including copyrights, trademarks, and patents through federal registration, early, before the infringement occurs, and by policing infringers after it occurs.

Trademarks and trade dress, in particular, are the "I.D." for products and companies as well as the symbol of consumer good will. Knock-offs are purely theft of the manufacturer's identity and goodwill, valuable but intangible assets that need to be protected for the manufacturer as well as for the consumer.

The Washington Post has an interesting article regarding furniture knock-offs at
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A19484-2003Aug20.html.

 


 


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