Quantcast
  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

S35VN now available from Cold Steel. I wasn't expecting that...

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by JohnKSa, May 25, 2017.

  1. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Messages:
    20,910
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Hso (and a couple of the lawyers on staff) know more about this than I do, but let's look at the difference between patents and just one other type of intellectual property, the trade secret. To quote:
    A well-kept trade secret could theoretically last forever. But there is a risk. Unlike with patents, it is perfectly legal to reverse engineer and copy a trade secret. A patent lasts only 20 years, but during that period, the protection is far stronger: independent invention is no defense in a patent suit.*

    Now, again, most knife designs aren't patented, but if made in a country where intellectual property rights are acknowledged, knives that are too close to a competitor's product in design or appearance can lead to a suit against the copied product.

    There was a lawsuit from Spyderco towards Benchmade about 2005 over the use of the round ("Spyder") hole on the AFCK, but since a legal agreement was reached, it's difficult to find details now.
    (Interestingly enough, Benchmade won a patent infringement case of its own in 2011.)

    Though some of the case is about mislabeling counterfeit knives, the fact that visual characteristics of a knife can be intellectual property is clearly explained here.

    *the difference between these two would be particularly important on the particulars of a process like making INFI steel, whereas Cold Steel's branding of steel "Carbon V" is just applying their own brand name to whichever inexpensive but decent-performing steel they're using now. So, a competitor using identical steel wouldn't be breaking intellectual property laws by using the same steel, but he would be in trademark violation if he called any steel he used "Carbon V" without permission from Cold Steel.
     
  2. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2003
    Messages:
    12,533
    Location:
    DFW Area
    Ok, that makes sense--trade secrets offer no protection other than what the secrecy can provide.

    The patent suit seems very straightforward and is similar/identical to what I would expect to see in the gun world.

    The two Spyderco suits seem to me to be primarily based on trademark infringement and that also seems pretty straightforward to me. It looks like KTP would have skated had the knives not had any Spyderco "marks" on them (including the hole) and if KTP hadn't mentioned the fact that they were clones of Spyderco knives. Of course the steel being different from what was claimed was obviously a problem for them, however that isn't really related to the topic of intellectual property/design infringement.

    Interesting. I'm going to have to think about this and do some more research.
     
  3. Madcap_Magician

    Madcap_Magician Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2009
    Messages:
    1,649
    Location:
    MN
    These ones are pretty clear-cut to me. The firearms patents you mentioned are expired, so there is legally and ethically no issue with people using those designs.

    In the knife world it is pretty vague, because relatively few knife innovations ever get patented, but there seems to be a code in the community that if someone invents something cool, you ask their permission. Not everyone plays equally nicely (Spyderco will license anyone the Spyderhole blade opener idea for cheap, Ernie Emerson will share his accidentally designed Wave opener, but I don't think Benchmade will license the Axis lock), but the general consensus is that if someone invents something, you respect their invention even if they haven't patented and trademarked it.

    It does get pretty murky sometimes, especially when you start talking about design aesthetics instead of discrete and distinctive functional mechanisms like lock designs and blade-opening mechanisms.

    Everyone in the knife world is pretty down on counterfeiting, but there's a wide variety of opinions as to what the difference between a counterfeit and a clone and a tribute is.

    There's a thread on Bladeforums now about this.

    It's kind of like Judge Potter and obscenity, though.

    Pretty much nobody thinks that making a traditional Barlow knife and calling it a Barlow knife is intellectual property theft. But the closer you get to the present, the more gray it gets. Is Bark River Knife and Tool making inappropriate Randall clones under the Blackjack Knives label? Can custom makers copy Bob Lum patterns? It gets stickier.
     
    JShirley likes this.
  4. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2003
    Messages:
    48,336
    Location:
    0 hrs east of TN
    Not any longer now that so many manufacturers have teamed with custom designers for designs AND the Internet has made it so easy to see who has copied who. There are still companies that will push those new cultural norms, though.
     
  5. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2003
    Messages:
    48,336
    Location:
    0 hrs east of TN
    If it isn't protected by copyright, patent, trademark, or some other intellectual property prote croon there's no legal protection. Also, defending protected intellectual property can be costly, unless you have legal support. Much of todays protection comes through social media and Internet blogs identifying ripoffs.
     
  6. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2003
    Messages:
    48,336
    Location:
    0 hrs east of TN
    That can be problematic. If 80% matches the copy can cross clear lines, but there are plenty of style elements that can get you accused of knocking off a competitor even if the rest of the knife isn't similar. The Chinese were notorious for "clones" (a very dirty word) and style copycats.
     
  7. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2003
    Messages:
    48,336
    Location:
    0 hrs east of TN
    There are traditional patterns that are not protecred or expected to be exclusive. Pukkos, Bowie's (although there's no real "Bowie" to point to so everyone knocks some element off), Nesmuks and Kepharts and the various Fullered short clip points like Marbles. Then there are distint versions of these like the Iron Mistress Bowie or the Wirkala Pukko or the Loveless Drop Point that are clearly unique versions of "traditional" styles that could have been protected, but weren't. There's a lot of style to a knife that is attributable to specific designers and makers when they're identifiable as their creation. In many ways it is like copying art.
     
  8. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2003
    Messages:
    48,336
    Location:
    0 hrs east of TN
    Very much.

    You can design and patent a knife with a new mechanism or new material not used or even a detail like lock or opening and have similarities with the firearms industry, but style is where you get huge divergence.
     
  9. ilbob

    ilbob Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Messages:
    12,006
    Location:
    Illinois
    I think once the US government bought the 1911 design the situation on who could make copies of it changed pretty dramatically toward pretty much anyone can.
     
  10. Madcap_Magician

    Madcap_Magician Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2009
    Messages:
    1,649
    Location:
    MN
    With knives anyway honestly a lot of the protection comes from vigilant fan bases as much as it does the original manufacturers and makers. There is always some base level of scuzziness where whether through ignorance, apathy, or greed, a certain percentage of the community keeps the fakers in business, but very few thieves and fakers prosper.
     
  11. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2003
    Messages:
    12,533
    Location:
    DFW Area
    That only works for people who actually spend time in those arenas and give such threads serious weight. I have friends who are into knives who don't spend time online reading about them.

    I consider myself to be a knife buff and spend a good deal of time online but really haven't paid too much attention to the various complaint threads I've seen because I'm so inured to seeing similar complaints about firearm companies which most often amount to someone ranting about a company they don't like for some personal reason but trying to rationalize their dislike by making up flaws or magnifying existing flaws.

    I guess what I'm saying is that doesn't seem like much protection. To pick a pertinent example, it doesn't seem to be hurting CS at all...
     
  12. Old Dog

    Old Dog Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2004
    Messages:
    4,662
    Location:
    somewhere on Puget Sound
    ^^ John, great post. Sums up my feelings pretty well. I was sorry I waded into a thread pertaining to a certain company after hearing all the opinions of that company's president/CEO personality. I get that some folks feel real strongly about ethics in manufacturing, but frankly, to me it just doesn't seem as though there are so many different ways to make a knife -- and how it looks -- that it's worth getting one's panties all twisted in a wad. A knife to me is like a tool, a hammer or wrench; there's simply not that much involved (aside from various mechanisms of folders, auto, etc.) -- it's not complex machinery. I liken knives to art -- and anyone in the art community knows that styles are copied widely and there can be any number of portrayals of the same image. Unless someone is purposely counterfeiting something with intent to deceive, which is another matter.

    At what point do we need to worry about copying a design which is already derivative of a design that's been in existence for years, over quality of a piece? And yes, the head of a particular manufacturer might be a horse's ass, but is that necessarily germane to a discussion about his company coming out with new product using high-quality steel?
     
  13. Atla

    Atla Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2008
    Messages:
    351
    Honestly, I couldn't give a flip if the CEO wear's women's underwear with peanut butter in his hair and a lit fire cracker in between his buttocks while doing the Chicken Dance.

    It's the quality of the knife, the service of the company, and the price that matters to me. :)

    I'll still point and laugh at him for being a super weirdo, but I'll also cut a switch with his blades.
     
  14. ilbob

    ilbob Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Messages:
    12,006
    Location:
    Illinois
    The way I see it is that there are a bazillion knives out there representing who knows how many tens or hundreds of thousands of designs. The chances are that any knife designed these days is going to look a whole lot like something that has already been designed. People who like to think of themselves as knife people will make a big deal out of really minor differences in knife designs but I am not convinced that they are all that significant in the grand scheme of things. More like marketing than anything else. Once in a blue moon someone will come out with something that real is unique but most designs are like most cars. they look a lot alike and most of the differences are cosmetic.

    I have only a handful of knives, and they serve my needs adequately. That's about all I care about. I don't get the attraction to high dollar knives. i would be afraid to use them for fear of breaking them.

    I would not buy a gold plated or engraved gun either. There just is not much to attract me to such a thing if I am afraid to shoot it.

    But some people collect such things and that is their choice. I knew a guy with more knives than I could count and yet he did not even carry one in his pocket on a routine basis. He had at least a dozen knife rolls by my admittedly often faulty memory from way back when. He would take one out of a roll and drool over it. Me? It just looked like a run-of-the-mill knife to me.
     
  15. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2003
    Messages:
    12,533
    Location:
    DFW Area
    Just to be clear, I'm not trying to justify CS' copying/cloning behavior. Frankly, I'm still trying to get a handle on how differently the knife community feels about similar designs than the gun community does and also trying to form a personal opinion on the topic based on what I'm learning about it. Right now I'm having trouble seeing things quite so black and white as it obviously is for some folks, but that may change as I think about it more.

    What I was trying to say in my previous post is that while I generally pay a lot of attention to complaints about quality/function/customer service/durability/etc. I tend to pay less attention to complaints about the company itself or the CEO. Not that I ignore them entirely, but I do tend to give that kind of complaint less weight than complaints about how they treat their customers or how well their products work because the former tends to be more subjective and I like to deal in the objective as much as I can.
     
  16. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2003
    Messages:
    48,336
    Location:
    0 hrs east of TN

    CS and Taylor just ignored the accusations and they're known for this. They're fans don't care and they do offer a product at a low enough price point, generally, it offsets complaints. The Chinese knockoff companies certainly had tons of criticism heaped upon them and the buyers who wanted to show off their "great deal" on a counterfeit or knockoff. As to the effect of criticism from knife knuts, it is only effective if the owner of the company cares at all about it. Before the internet and forums and blogs it was knife magazines and knife shows where criticism for not citing the inspiration for a knife and it was the shows where the face to face shaming for claiming someone else's design or style as your own. It was generally considered following in the footsteps to try to copy great work because the originator had the lead and was rarely threatened by others inspired by the work that rarely if ever matched the master. It hasn't been until knife makers and designers started getting checks from manufacturers that things got so contentious about "stealing" other people's work.

    OTOH, you're probably right that for the vast majority of buyers they're not even aware of the knockoff or they don't care.
     
  17. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Messages:
    20,910
    Location:
    Atlanta
    The issue here is that CS typically sells a cheap copy, not an homage.
     
  18. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2003
    Messages:
    12,533
    Location:
    DFW Area
    I've been thinking about this general topic for awhile now and I still haven't come up with a solid position on how I feel about it. The problem is that when I look at it from the two different sides, each position seems reasonable.

    If I were to design a knife, (not a lock or other specific invention which could be patented, but rather a unique/unusual combination of blade/guard/handle shape/size/style) then I would want to benefit from that design in some concrete fashion and I wouldn't want others to benefit from it unless they make a deal with me. I mean, it's all well and good to feel the satisfaction of expressing one's self in a three dimensional art form which is also functional, but that doesn't pay the rent. And it doesn't seem fair for someone else to make money on my design without at least asking me first.

    If I were the head of commercial enterprise making knives, I would feel entitled to make and sell any knife design which wasn't protected by intellectual property laws. My business is making knives that people want to buy. If people want to buy design X and I can legally make design X then why wouldn't I do so? The fact that it's not legally protected means that, according to the agreed upon rules of commerce, this design is fair game. If I start taking knife designs off the table because some knife designer somewhere might not like what I'm doing, it's going to cut into my business and that would hurt not only me, but also many other people who rely on the revenues of my business.

    Both of those positions make sense to me although they are definitely at odds with each other.

    And there are still some aspects of this that I simply don't understand. For example:
    This doesn't make any sense to me at all.

    If there's intellectual property in the design then it seems to me that making a copy of any kind (cheap, expensive, homage, whatever) for commercial sale is infringement on that intellectual property. I don't understand how the quality of the resulting copy, or the noble/ignoble intent of the maker, could change whether there's infringement or not.
     
  19. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Messages:
    20,910
    Location:
    Atlanta
    A lot of custom knives are VERY expensive. If a maker of handmade knives sold less than 50 knives a year, he might not be overly concerned if a large knife manufacturer sold much cheaper knives based on his design, because they cater to different markets.

    OTOH, if a knife manufacturer who makes at least some very high quality knives copies existing production knives, and sells their versions at prices dramatically lower than the real deal, there would probably be a lot of market overlap. CS made their initial reputation off a handful of original designs. They then used that initial good reputation to continue selling not only good to excellent knives they designed, but copies of other designs still in production, with quality ranging from very good to shoddy. That leaves a bad taste.
     
  20. skmo

    skmo Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2015
    Messages:
    14
    The Randall copy they made is not cheap but it certainly isn't the quality a Randall Model 1 is (but hand forged is hard to beat.) I don't see the Master Hunter as a copy of the F1, it's a standard type of drop point hunting knife, and I liked my Carbon V MH better than I liked the quality of my friend's S1, Now that they're offering it in CPM-3V I'd bet I would like it even more.

    Having met Lynn, I can say confidently that if he isn't the most arrogant knife company owner, he's got to be at least # 2 and biting on the leader's heels. (Honestly, I'm only offering that because I haven't met any others besides Jerry Busse, and I've talked with Gary Randall a few times on the phone - both stand up guys.) The used car salesman/ambulance chasing lawyer approach to their advertising is annoying, but then I'm generally annoyed by most ad guys.

    They've had their ups and downs, and it seems they've done a good job learning from their mistakes. Their budget items like the Outdoorsman Lite, Canadian Belt Knife and Finn Wolf are decent quality for the price. Their quality items like the SRK in 3V, Pendleton Hunter and Mini Hunter, and AK-47 Field knife are great knives. Folders like the Recon 1, Code 4, and Ultimate Hunter are superb knives. I've carried a Mini Recon for several years now and I've been very impressed. It's largely replaced my D2 Griptilian (although I'm seriously considering a Contego since it's made with CPM-M4.)

    For all his annoyance, I'll give Lynn hid due. He supports shooting and hunting sports, and he supports the military. I know he sent a whole lot of knives to Iraq to be given to soldiers free of charge. While he's no Charlton Heston, he's certainly no Rob Reiner, either.
     
  21. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2003
    Messages:
    48,336
    Location:
    0 hrs east of TN
    What you're telling us is that unless it were prohibited by law you'd feel that you were under no obligation to take the design work of a creative person and exploit it for your own profit. Because something is illegal it is also probably wrong, but because there's no law against something wrong it doesn't follow that it is not wrong to do. Many people condemn things that are not illegal that they consider wrong and overall in the knife community it is condemned to use someone else's creative work without crediting them or paying them for the privilege.
     
  22. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2003
    Messages:
    12,533
    Location:
    DFW Area
    What I'm saying is that I can see both sides of the argument and that when I look at it from each perspective, each perspective, though contradictory to the other, seems reasonable.

    From the perspective of a knife designer it seems reasonable to expect to profit from someone else's use of one's designs. It seems reasonable to expect to have some control over one's designs even if the law doesn't provide that control. I think I can see the designer's point of view. It makes sense to me and I could see myself feeling that way if I were in the designer's place.

    From the perspective of a knife company, it seems reasonable to make and sell any designs which are in the public domain--which are not protected by intellectual property laws. Such designs are eligible for use by any company. I think I can see the knife company's point of view. It makes sense to me and I could see myself feeling that way if I were in the company's place.
    Correct. But it's also true that once we depart from the defined standards of legality, right and wrong become largely a matter of personal opinion, and enforcement becomes impossible, or at least extremely problematic.

    Based on your answers to the questions I posted earlier, enforcement (if it can be called that) seems to be limited to public denigration of offenders on the internet. I am kind of curious to know if there are any examples where this strategy caused a knife company to modify its behavior.
    Very true. Anyone who follows the news can see many examples of this and the strife it tends to create.
    Isn't a big (if not the biggest) part of the problem the lack of an agreed upon definition for what "someone else's creative work" actually means?
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2017 at 2:35 AM

Share This Page