I hear you knocking

Cybercrime LogoI hadn’t quite realized this — and I’m not sure for how long I’ve been in the dark — but my old friend Rob Holmes, superstar IP PI and absolutely a great American, at his Knockoff Report blog, is really keeping on keeping on!  (I think I got that right.)

Evidently every Monday and Thursday he does a roundup of counterfeiting / authenticity related links.  And as we know, not every “knockoff” is a counterfeit. Evidently every Monday and Thursday he does a roundup of counterfeiting / authenticity related items from around the Internet.   To the contrary, folks like to walk riiiiiiiight up to that line (or what they think is that line) to see just what they can get away with.  Rob seems to pick up a lot of great stories on this topic in his twice-a-week linkathons.  (For some reason, however, he doesn’t like permalinks, so you have to just go to the home page.)

Here’s a great item about a Sharpie knockoff called “Skerpel” Rob linked to today by business professor Juergen Kneifelfrom in the Herald Business Journal:

How a Chinese knockoff left mark on Sharpie pens

Competition among manufacturers is what we thrive upon.

Competition fuels our economy and offers consumers the benefit of more product choices, features and varied price options. Competition also drives product enhancement and innovation as businesses seek out to develop products that customers want and need.

SkerpleBut sometimes competition can become downright messy and even unfair. Sharpie Pens are in a mess of sorts with a Chinese knock-off using the brand name Skerple. . . .

Fortunately the Skerples have not made it into mainstream office supply channels. They work the fringes of discount stores and dollar stores.

I purchased several dozen Skerples from a discount store two years ago. My plan was to use them exclusively in classroom “show-and-tell” discussions and share how businesses must fight to protect their brand.

I contacted Newell Rubbermaid, the parent company for Sharpie, to learn how they’re fighting this trademark infringement. The company representative offered no comment, a response that often times in my experience indicates reluctance out of legal concern.

Still, my curiosity got the better of me. So I visited the store where I had made my original purchase and surprised to see that the Skerples were no longer available at this particular discounter, but the store was now carrying Sharpie brand pens.

Perhaps the corporate strategy at Newell Rubbermaid is to aggressively engage with non-traditional distribution channels to ensure the Skerples become “lost” in the U.S. marketplace. This also requires the company to aggressively compete on pricing. I hope their strategy works.

Well, hope springs eternal, dunnit.  Others have picked up on the Skerple knockoff pen as well — not always disapprovingly!  Note that the last link is from 2010, a year that is three minus the one we’re in now.  Not a “hope”-ful sing for the Sharpie people, I’d think.

Just one example, is the Skerple story, of the how Rob is delivering great value by covering this sub-niche so thoroughly — great value to me, at least, because now that I had the good idea of stopping by there, I realize that I’m guaratneed blog fodder, or at least some very good tweets, at least twice a week.  That’s what I call value!

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Author:Ron Coleman

I write this blog.

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