Having to deal with knock-offs and the violation of our intellectual property right is very frustrating. It was never a one-time investment to obtain some form of legal protection to our invention, but years of costly and time-consuming commitment to defend it.
The lower priced knock-offs come usually with lower quality and often unsafe conditions. Details are copied and simplified unaware of the function and materials needed to achieve it. Harmful and toxic materials are also introduced to achieve the lower cost.
By identifying the Knock-offs here, we hope to have your understanding of the challenges many small innovative businesses like Celltei faces. Please help us and say "NO" to Knock-offs!
(Captured from www.northernparrots.com)
Knock-offs by a former distributor (since January 2015)A retailer forwarded an email from her customer inquiring if a new product introduced by Northern Parrots in United Kingdom was made by Celltei.
Northern Parrots carried and distributed Pak-o-Birds from year 2008 through 2010 but has not ordered from us since. The product(s) shown on Northern Parrots website is NOT a Celltei® product.
(Captured from www.TaoBao.com listing)
Knock-offs from China listed in TaoBao.com (since October 2014)Our heads were ready to explose when we first saw our product pictures bearing Celltei logo were "borrowed" from our website and used by quite a few sellers listed at TaoBao.com, a major selling platform in China equivalent to Amazon.com in the US. Pictures from our customers using Celltei products were also "borrowed". No wonder, a customer were asking if we were selling to China at less than half of the price. Hell "NO"! The pictures show our products but we have no idea of what's actually being shipped.
TaoBoa.com is a subsidiary of Alibaba, a publicly listed company in the US. We wrote to both TaoBao and Alibaba, as well as notified Google of the copyright violation. It has been a continuous battle. Our repeated demands seem to have only taught the infringers to improve their photo editing skills by removing Celltei trademark from our product pictures more thoroughly over the years. Before long, the same product listing at TaoBao.com with the same original Celltei product pictures by the same sellers (or seller using multiple store names) would pop up again.
Knock-offs by Potential BuyersAt a trade show, a buyer from a large pet-industry catalog company asked for a free sample for review. About four months later, We were surprised to see a similar product in their catalog. The only difference was the side meshes are replaced by grommets. One of the sizes exactly matches our medium size and the more costly construction method was also adopted to minimize defects in the finishing process. Just like that, we didn't even get the "courtesy" of a small trial order!
Just as distressing, the base support they use was a wooden board wrapped by a thin lining. This was unhygienic (absorbent of urine or water) and harmful. We also do not believe the wooden material had been properly declared for the import, with the required fumigation process to kill any insects. Except for a paper hang tag with unregistered trademarks "Eastside Collection by Casual Canine," there is no label or trademark on the carrier.
Knock-offs by the ProIn 2006, one of our retailers in Florida emailed us a price list with pictures of product resembled our Love Series. This heart shape original design was first introduced for Valentine's Day in 2005. It has the shoulder straps extended to and joined at the bottom to symbolize the idea of unzip (open) your heart. It has special meaning to the designer as she was fighting breast cancer during that time.
Louis Vuitton's designer Marc Jacobs had reportedly said, "Knock-offs are the highest form of flattery (for the designer) but the company won't feel good about it." For small businesses like ours where the designer is also the business owner, the threat to the business outweighs any sense of flattery!
After further inquiry, we found out it was a professional handbag company that "specialized" in copying designs for more than 10 years. The knock-offs had captured the body of the design but never its soul!
"Knock-offs" by the SupplierIn the initial years, like most businesses, we have our products made by an overseas contracted factory. After a successful run of 400 pieces of the first and original Pak-o-pet design, we gave a 50% deposit for an extended line of designs that filled a container for the anticipated orders taken various trade show. Little did we know, our order was sub-contracted out without our knowledge. Inferior materials were used and the finished product was defective. We rejected the shipment and lost the deposit.
About nine months later, we found the rejected shipment bearing our trademark in the hands of a US trading firm trying to sell to our retailers. Numerous attempts were made in the next few years to stop the trading firm from getting the defective products to the market including the last contact with the large chain store of the T.J.Maxx group. It was an exhausting process.
Knock-offs by fellow Entrepreneurs and ManufacturersIn 2006, we were tipped by another retailers that a new pet product company showing a carrier just like our Pet-on-the-Go design. The company claimed in the website that this was a "patent pending design". Really? We made a friendly phone call to the owner who confirmed that they imported the product from China. She told us that she understood patent process and asked us to provide the patent details of what we think they were copying so that they could "modify the design to avoid the patent issue". She was correct, wasn't she?
Over the years, in numerous occasions, we found product pictures from our website were "borrowed" and listed in the websites of overseas factories to solicit business. No matter how many times we dealt with it, we could not avoid making our blood boil.
Perhaps, the only thing we can count on is your support not to buy the Knocks-offs!