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Against Monopoly

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Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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NYTimes magazine reviews the Asian knockoff business

Brand name product piracy has long been with us and continues to grow if one is to believe the New York Times magazine section link here. The story focuses on sneakers produced in huge quantities in South China where the product range is broad and the copies range from very good to shoddy.

The author, Nicholas Schmidle, has got both Chinese producers and the US feds to talk to him about how the business works. He shows how good the copies are in a series of photos; it would take a professional enforcer and a photographic memory to see some of the differences. But they seem to sell. Indeed the copyright holding makers are reluctant to complain too loudly, for fear of souring the market for all, legitimate and not.

As a one-time economic counselor in our embassy in Seoul Korea bsck in the days when Korean pirates were rampant, I found it was really hard to get the cops to close the pirates down. They were small businessmen providing jobs at a time when Korea was very poor. All this changed when Korea got rich enough to want IP law enforced to protect its own export goods. But I suppose now the name brand producer is Korean while the pirates are Chinese.


Comments

Ah, yes. I remember the days of the cheap Korean copies well. One of the popular things for people to do was to bring back multiple pairs of Korean knock-offs that could be purchased for as little as $2 a pair, while the U.S. equivalents could sell for up to $100 a pair.

There was only one, rather significant problem with the Korean knockoffs. They were no where near as well made as the U.S. equivalents. The knockoffs would often last for a few months before the shoes fell apart, or the soles wore through. The knockoffs were also typically much less comfortable than the genuine article. You can copy a look, but hard to copy materials, especially when the materials are produced in a certain way that is important to the performance of the shoe that is not understood by the copier.

Perhaps the second biggest problem is when people sold Korean knockoffs in the U.S. in an array of locations as genuine, but discounted. You buy a pair of genuine-looking tennis shoes that normally retail for $100 for $25, and when the shoes fall apart in 4-6 months you realize that you probably got rooked.

Because the price of labor in Korea has grown significantly, I think tennis shoes are no longer made there.

The New York Times recently had an article on cell phone knockoffs. Unfortunately, I was unable to find it. Here is an earlier article that touches on the same issue. In China, Knockoff Cellphones Are a Hit

The obvious intent of the recent New York Times article on cell phones was to promote the concept that manufacturing knockoffs is equivalent to stealing. However, there was an interesting tidbit in that article. Knockoff phones in some cases were incrementally superior to the original product!!!!

This raises the concept that these knockoffs were not simply knockoffs but an improved product.

As an improved product, the claim that these knockoffs are "stealing" so-called intellectual property from US firms would be considered absurd. How can a US company claim that these knockoff represent theft when the US companies don't even offer these "advanced features". Wait till the Chinese figure that out and sue US companies.

Of course there is a final point. If other countries have superior electronics, why aren't the US companies offering these features? Seems to me that the US companies like to assert, with much bluster, that they are world "leaders" but its all unsubstantiated hot-air.

Ah, yes. I remember the days of the cheap Korean copies well. One of the popular things for people to do was to bring back multiple pairs of Korean knock-offs that could be purchased for as little as $2 a pair, while the U.S. equivalents could sell for up to $100 a pair.

There was only one, rather significant problem with the Korean knockoffs. They were no where near as well made as the U.S. equivalents. The knockoffs would often last for a few months before the shoes fell apart, or the soles wore through. The knockoffs were also typically much less comfortable than the genuine article. You can copy a look, but hard to copy materials, especially when the materials are produced in a certain way that is important to the performance of the shoe that is not understood by the copier. ---------- 1z0-051ll HP0-D07 ll 70-685 ll SK0-003 ll NS0-502


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