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Chinese Pens -- Too Many Look Like Counterfeits!

fakes counterfeits chinese pens indian pens

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168 replies to this topic

#41 WirsPlm

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 13:32

my Kaigelu 356 writes better than my Sonnet :wacko: .
 
i like the design... i really don't care who came up with it first... 
 
 
 
 
 
 
PS.
Moshe, you keep mentioning that some people might get "riled up"... was this you intention?

I think it's pretty clear that Moshe weas trying to pick a fight (sadly for Moshe, most people on FPN aren't interested in one), although it could be that he's just so upset he's not thinking clearly about his phrasing or that there's simply a communication style difference.

Edited by WirsPlm, 10 December 2013 - 15:32.


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#42 proton007

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 14:28

Whew!  Well -- I did say I'd probably rile up some folks.

 

In an attempt to clarify my own thinking for y'all.  I'm not focused on things like the hooded nib or the barrel shape.  As several have pointed out, these designs have been widely copied by various manufacturers from each other over the years.  Preventing this would be nigh on impossible.  I'm not an attorney, but I suspect that even enforcing patents on the hooded nib would be very difficult.  Just an opinion.

 

My main issue was and is with the use of design elements which are non-verbal expressions of a brand's trademark.  My initial examples were the 'arrow clip' of Parker; and (forgive me the awkward description) the 'slotted' Waterman clip.  Based on some of the other examples brought up, I'd include the very distiinctive wire clip of the Lamy Safari, the Lamy name and font molded into the barrel (yes, I know the Hero isn't labelled Safari but does position its brand name in the identical font and position as Lamy does), and the snow cap trademark of Montblanc.  Copying these trademarks is not necessary to the function of the Chinese pens; but in one way or another would contribute towards sales and marketing.  And dilutes the brand presence of the originals.

 

Several respondents did raise the point of whether or not I recognized that not all manufacturers in China were capable of putting out good quality product, as well as their ability to put out a good quality original product.  

 

Emphatically YES.  I've worked out there.  Manufacturing and even design capability have progressed hugely!  My issues are not with the engineers and designers.  

 

My issues are with the managments who are still choosing to copy (whether for their domestic markets or export or both) rather than standing on their own two feet.  Lenovo computers are an example of a Chinese company that puts out a good solid product -- and does so under its own name.

 

Hope this helps a bit.

 

btw -- I have also found a fair bit of discussion on this same issue in the forum for Far East region; several posts there offer more detail on the history of how the Chinese pen industry has come to what it is today.  Interesting reading for anyone interested....

 

Thanks to all for a lively thread!

 

The hooded nib design has been used as an inspiration by many brands.

Same goes for the torpedo design.

 

The Hero 336 I have has the same hooded nib design, but the clip and cap design is different, and the arrow on the hood is also different.

I think a hooded nib can be made in only so many ways.


Edited by proton007, 10 December 2013 - 14:29.

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#43 Sailor Kenshin

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 15:02

This may rile up some folks.
 
I've noted that when the subject of low cost pens comes up, more and more members will now advocate the Chinese pens.  I've also seen where some posts voice an uneasiness regarding whether or not the pens from China are out and out counterfeits.
 
On the one hand, I do know and recognize that some of the Chinese manufacturers are not in the legal sense counterfeiters.  Many we are told have or had licensing agreements with say Parker.  Plus, given that they market under their own brand name, I'd concede that they may not be legally counterfeits.  Counterfeiters typically try to name their products so that a purchaser thinks these fakes are the legitimate product.  But not always.  
 
Back in the 80's Iived in Asia when it seemed every taxi driver wore what appeared to a 'Rolex' (but wasn't).  Every shop keeper it seemed had what appeared to be an Apple II computer but wasn't.  Yes, I know I exaggerate -- did so on purpose.  I myself at that time had a 'pineapple' computer linked with a couple of 'orange' floppy disk drives.  At the time I had no choice where I was; when I came back to the US I did not bring the fakes with me!
 
What I am bothered about from surveying offerings on e-bay as well as websites from some sellers/importers (several of whom are active members of FPN) is that this approach is being used by the Chinese pen manufacturers.  Think of how many of the Chinese pens not only look like Parker 51's in general body shape, but also use the Parker arrow clip of the same design as the P-51 era.  Also how many pens are using what appear to be Sheaffer or Waterman clips.  I've seen quite a number of pen offerings that have the pen cap bevel that look like Waterman.  As well as pens having the conical cap ends looking like Cross products.
 
In short, to me these imports smack of the same approach to counterfeiting as I described above for watches and computers in the 80's.  And yet all too many of us moan about the industry dying or going off shore, while we buy the products that are stealing the legitimate manufacturers' markets.  
 
I don't object to the imported products.  But let the overseas manufacturers use their own design elements, rather than try to fool purchasers.  And we, as enthusiasts, should vow not to support these imports pretending to be what they are not.
 
Anyone else feel this way?  Comments?


Nope, not at all.

Hero, Jinhao, and other legitimate Chinese brands are always CLEARLY marked Hero, Jinhao, or whatever. In English, for the most part.

If you can't read, it's not the manufacturer's fault.


Many Chinese makes represent great bargains for decent writing and I have a number of them in my rotation.

Most dealers sell Chinese pens as Chinese pens. I never for one moment thought I was buying a 'real' Parker for ten bucks just because it had a hooded nib.

#44 videopope

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 17:18

The way I look at it is that it comes down to intention.

 

When Hero markets their 616, is it really their intention to trick people into thinking that its a Parker 51? Absolutely not, or if it is they are doing an exceptionally poor job of it. 

 

All patents have expired, so its free game. (I am speaking of the Hero Summer Colour/359) The patent system is designed specifically to eliminate monopolies and encourage innovation. 

 

Nobody is being fooled by these pens. When I got my 616, I knew it wasn't a Parker. When I looked at it online and decided to buy it, I knew it wasn't a Parker. When I hold it in my hand and write with it, I know its not a Parker. In fact, I can't imagine anyone who has written with a Parker 51 mistaking a 616's (even mine which which is buttery smooth and wet) writing characteristics for a 51. So where is the poor ethics or unscrupulous behaviour?

 

Hero is not taking any money out of Parker's pockets by making these pens. Neither are they taking money from Lamy with the Summer Color. If someone wants to buy a Safari, then they go and buy a Safari. I can't imagine someone seeing the Summer Color - which is emblazoned with "Hero" all over the place - and thinking, "wow, that Safari is cheap! I should buy that German pen from this sketchy Chinese website/ebay auction." It just won't happen.

 

I think you should only condemn/boycott these manufacturers if you can prove and intention to deceive, which I don't think is possible.

 

That being said, my Hero 616 wrote awesome right out of the box, and continues to write awesome. About half a bottle of Noodler's Heart of Darkness has gone through that pen now and not a single hiccup or hard start. That's more than I can say about most of my "real" pens. I use my 616 WAY more than my 51. As a professional writer, I make my living from writing with these pens, and I would say at this point my $5 616 is far more valuable to me  than my $150 Parker 51 or my $600 Mont Blanc 149. I understand of course that not everyone has had this experience with Chinese pens and so take that with a grain of salt.

 

Cheers,

 

Matt



#45 ceac

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 18:24

Here's my two cents ...

 

If I may try to summarize ..

We all seem to agree on the fact that there's a (emotional) difference between:

1) hommage/copy pens branded under their own label and pricetag (eg. Jinhao 159) vs blatant fraud

2) copies of discontinued models (Hero 616) vs copies of current models

 

I've got several Chinese pens that I'm quite fond of. My Jinhao 159 is nearly always with me and personally I don't have a problem with the situation as long as the imitations are clearly labelled and sold as such. Something similar happened in the car industry; the first KIA models were identical to the German Opel Kadett. When Opel discontinued that model they sold the complete factory/molds to KIA (a bit similar to Parker/Hero although Parker didn't quite sell the factory :-)). What surpises me however is that the established penmakers hardly make a fuss about the copies/hommages that are being made of their current models ... Just imagine what would happen if a chinese company started making hommage cars of the latest Mercedes or Audi models  :lticaptd: I guess there are just not enough financial and/or geo political interests involved with the pen industry.

 

 

PS: The most renowned penshop in Holland (Akkerman) sells Hero 616's for some years now ... looks like Hero at least is becoming mainstream, just as KIA in the automotive sector ..


Edited by ceac, 10 December 2013 - 18:24.


#46 Seele

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 01:41

ceac,

 

First, I am sure you are mistaken. Opel and Daewoo were associate companies and some of the earlier Opel models were inherited by Daewoo, such as the front-wheel-drive Kadett which became the Daewoo Cielo, which was in turn imported by Pontiac and sold as the LeMans, but that was in the 1980s. Daewoo carried on building cars of their own design after hiring an ex-Porsche man, but eventually it was bought by Holden, another GM associate. Kia (not "KIA" as it is not an acronym) was a Ford and Mazda associate, but now it was bought by Hyundai, severing its Ford ties.

 

It might sound odd but the numerous Chinese car manufacturers are copying numerous mainstream cars from other makers; a quick search on YouTube will find a number of videos comparing the originals and the copies.

 

As I mentioned previously, it is not true to say that the Hero 616 is a copy of a discontinued model.


No, I am not going to list my pens here.

#47 TSherbs

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 03:32

Copying and improving on design is exactly what nature does, and what merchants and artisans in markets and bazars have done the world over. There is no deceit, no cheating in these clearly marked parallel versions. And these manufacturers also can and DO make many models which are not clones or imitations. Hero has a very diverse model range, if you take the time to really look around. Is the Hero Summer a bold move? Yeah. Chutzpah. Old school. May the best version win in the new-world bazar. 



#48 proton007

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 04:01

Copying and improving on design is exactly what nature does, and what merchants and artisans in markets and bazars have done the world over. There is no deceit, no cheating in these clearly marked parallel versions. And these manufacturers also can and DO make many models which are not clones or imitations. Hero has a very diverse model range, if you take the time to really look around. Is the Hero Summer a bold move? Yeah. Chutzpah. Old school. May the best version win in the new-world bazar. 

 

They also serve different markets. In a lot of countries people don't have the luxury of buying a $30 Lamy. If Hero's offering can raise some awareness of FPs (and maybe even the originals) there's no harm. Its a lost market to Lamy anyways.

 

My personal experience: I started using the Hero's hooded nib pens when I was a kid. They were the common offering where I lived, and given the price, were a reasonable choice. I used them daily for schoolwork, until the nib's width changed from an F to an M (I think once a year). Then I'd just go to the local shop and get the nib replaced.

 

Parker entered the market with their Jotter and Vector, and they were priced many times higher. No school kid in their right mind would use a Parker pen in school. The chances of one getting stolen or lost were too high.

 

Later I came to know that the shape of the Hero's I'd been using had been taken from the 51. When I was capable and earning myself, I went out and bought a 51.

 

In a way, I have to thank Hero for introducing me to the 51.


In a world where there are no eyes the sun would not be light, and in a world where there were no soft skins rocks would not be hard, nor in a world where there were no muscles would they be heavy. Existence is relationship and you're smack in the middle of it.

- Alan Watts


#49 fpconverted

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 05:25

the quality is attrocious as well. I was recently given a gift a a no name fountain pen sold at things engraved and installed the ink catridge and while use for the third time...the nib started leaking ink uncotrolably like the vaccum had been broken or something. 

 

Subsequently this pen is now in the garbage. 



#50 Sailor Kenshin

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 13:24

Complaining about a gift is one thing, and separate from the original question.


Because you got a bad specimen it does not follow ALL Chinese fountain pens are atrocious. I hear of bad Montblancs, Viscontis, and other high-end pens costing hundreds of dollars. Trash the brand because of one bad example? I suppose some people are so inclined.

But if it was a pen that cost $10 or less....not a big loss.

#51 WirsPlm

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 14:03

Complaining about a gift is one thing, and separate from the original question.


Because you got a bad specimen it does not follow ALL Chinese fountain pens are atrocious. I hear of bad Montblancs, Viscontis, and other high-end pens costing hundreds of dollars. Trash the brand because of one bad example? I suppose some people are so inclined.

But if it was a pen that cost $10 or less....not a big loss.


It's still very irritating even if 'only' $10 was spent (and $10 will get you a decent meal around here, so it's not an insignificant amount of money depending on finances). QC problems are the reason I only recommend that people get into Chinese FPs when they're up for fixing (and sometimes failing to fix) pens, because sometimes you're going to get stinkers. It's not necessarily a bad thing, lots of people happily take the risk of a stinker and the sloppier engineering in exchange for a 90% price cut, but it is a tradeoff. I don't think Chinese pens are the place we should send people looking for their first (or even second) pen for this reason.

#52 Mike_Dowling

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 14:30

They're more homages, they do the same with watches, they'll sell a mechanical with a cloned ETA movement that looks identical to a Panerai, Rolex, ALS, AP, Patek etc... but scrub the dial.  It's kind of a grey area for me, they aren't selling pure counterfeits and they're certainly not dipping into the 10K+ watch market with their $150.00 homages.

 

And everyone apes each others designs, there are only a handful of original designs in the pen world, everyone else just steals from one another.



#53 fpconverted

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 16:38

Complaining about a gift is one thing, and separate from the original question.


Because you got a bad specimen it does not follow ALL Chinese fountain pens are atrocious. I hear of bad Montblancs, Viscontis, and other high-end pens costing hundreds of dollars. Trash the brand because of one bad example? I suppose some people are so inclined.

But if it was a pen that cost $10 or less....not a big loss.

THe Brand is called CADENCE.....note everyone! DO not buy this brand I repeat!!



#54 fpconverted

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 16:39

like I siad earlier...after the 3rd use., the nib starting bleeding and blobbing on paper....Ive never had that happen with any of my "other" pens. 



#55 Sailor Kenshin

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 16:50

THe Brand is called CADENCE.....note everyone! DO not buy this brand I repeat!!


I can't find any reference to that brand online....too bad you don't have photos.

#56 Moshe ben David

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 21:53

OK folks:

 

  1. No, I was not trying to pick a fight with the membership of FPN.  No point to that.
  2. My useage of the phrase "This may rile up some folks."  Was simply an acknowledgement that I expected -- based on how many threads turn out on a variety of topics -- to receive a broad range of responses, some more intense than others.  Nothing more than that.
  3. I may be taking a broader view of what constitutes a trademarked design/brand element than some people do.  As an example from the computer industry, Apple Computer over its life has treated the 'apple' -- with the bite taken from it -- as a trademarked brand image.  Both in the original multicolored version and the current polished metal version.  I interpret the pen clip shapes for example in the same manner.
  4. Finally, some respondents have suggested that I was implying a lack of engineering/marketing/creative capability in China.  Far from it.  I know from first hand experience that these capabilities exist in a broad range of industries over there.  

My intent was to identify the (to me) unacceptable marketing approach being used by companies such as Hero by such blatant copying.  Whether the design is an out of production pen (e.g. a P-51) or a current product (Lamy Safari) I don't feel it is relevant.  They are still infringing on another manufacturer's trademarks.  

 

Also by the way, to my knowledge the Parker brand has had a long history in China -- preceding WWII as well as the civil war between the Communists and the Nationalists after the war.  This historic brand identity then to me accentuates the infringement of brand identity even in the Chinese home environment.

 

As I've said before, I really do appreciate the energetic and frank elucidation of varied points of view.  Thanks all y'all.


Moshe ben David

 

"Behold, He who watches over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps!"


#57 WirsPlm

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 23:04

OK folks:
 [list=1]

[*]I may be taking a broader view of what constitutes a trademarked design/brand element than some people do.  As an example from the computer industry, Apple Computer over its life has treated the 'apple' -- with the bite taken from it -- as a trademarked brand image.  Both in the original multicolored version and the current polished metal version.  I interpret the pen clip shapes for example in the same manner.

My intent was to identify the (to me) unacceptable marketing approach being used by companies such as Hero by such blatant copying.  Whether the design is an out of production pen (e.g. a P-51) or a current product (Lamy Safari) I don't feel it is relevant.  They are still infringing on another manufacturer's trademarks.  
 
Also by the way, to my knowledge the Parker brand has had a long history in China -- preceding WWII as well as the civil war between the Communists and the Nationalists after the war.  This historic brand identity then to me accentuates the infringement of brand identity even in the Chinese home environment.
 
As I've said before, I really do appreciate the energetic and frank elucidation of varied points of view.  Thanks all y'all.

Apple's logo is a legally registered trademark, which is why Apple can sue anyone using it for uses not protected under fair use. How Apple has behaved regarding their trademark is not the point, the point is they have the legal paperwork filed to show this is their trademark. If someone else had filed that paperwork, Apple would have been sued the second they were worth suing. Pen body shapes are not trademarked (they kind of can't be), they may be patented, and the patent may expire as the Safari patents have, in which case they're fair game.

This is the whole point of the patent system - to encourage innovation by providing limited monopolies to inventors who can bring their products to market, and then letting those benefits expire after a reasonable time so that all parts of society (including those too poor to buy the products under monopoly!) can benefit. Which is why we have life-saving antibiotics, brakes, the locks on your door, the P-trap in your toilet and all the thousands of other devices necessary for modern life widely available instead of having to pay monopoly prices for everything forever and ever.

There's some basic parts of the issue here that you seem to be missing (it's possibly a translation issue with the trademark vs. patent), and I strongly urge you to read up on how and why intellectual property rights are granted.

Edited by WirsPlm, 11 December 2013 - 23:06.


#58 Moshe ben David

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 23:16

WirsPlm:

 

Please note -- I am not taking issue with things like the pen body shape at all -- my only issue was and is the use of specific design elements which are part of brand image.  I was also not addressing technology such as hidden nibs or variations on feed.  So really, I wasn't so much taking issue with patent infringement so much as abuse of trademarks.  Or at least that was and is what I have been driving at...

 

Does this help?


Moshe ben David

 

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#59 barleycorn

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 23:30

At our pen club meeting on Saturday, someone brought a new Hero "Safari clone."  Slight variation in shape aside, to the untrained eye, it would be indistinguishable from the real thing.  However, with the packaging there was a sort of trademark to ensure what you bought was not a Hero clone but the real thing?!

The fact that the lower priced Sheaffers are made in China seems to suggest they have confidence in their ability to make a quality product.

Personally. I am not interested in acquiring a "Safari clone" but some others apparently are.  Seriously, the sale of replicas of high end products is a big deal.  I recently watched a documentary on CBC on fakes of products that have shown up everything from new planes to cars.  There are some companies selling knockoffs of prescription drugs!  There seems to be no end to this type of greed.

It is possible for "off shore" manufacturers to break out on their own.  Most new bicycles are manufactured in the far east as well as components under license.  Giant has emerged from a company making other brand's products to be taken just as seriously for the same prices as the companies they still make bikes for.  Just saying it is possible.



#60 WirsPlm

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 00:45

WirsPlm:
 
Please note -- I am not taking issue with things like the pen body shape at all -- my only issue was and is the use of specific design elements which are part of brand image.  I was also not addressing technology such as hidden nibs or variations on feed.  So really, I wasn't so much taking issue with patent infringement so much as abuse of trademarks.  Or at least that was and is what I have been driving at...
 
Does this help?

OK, obligatory disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and maybe things are different where you live.

In the US, trademark law only applies to things that are registered as trademarks ('design elements' is another ball of wax and not based on easily-defensible precedent). If it's part of a mechanical device it's under patent, not trademark, law, unless it is a legally recognized trademark.
To go through what I know is considered distinctive about the Safari:
Things like triangular grip sections and clip shape cannot be trademarked, they're functional and would be patented, and I don't think anything really applies to things like where the logo is located on a device. Bright plastic colors can't be protected under any legal code, the suit would be laughed out of court.

Trying to get legal protection for 'design elements' that aren't legally registered and protected is a fuzzy area littered with contradictory precedents and (from recent trials) lots of national posturing not based on sound legal reasoning.

What you're trying to say is that you feel or believe that trademark law should apply to things that are not trademarks. What I'm saying is that you've misunderstood how the law applies (or have badly communicated your understanding). It's fine if you feel that way, but companies making look-alikes aren't actually doing anything illegal, and are in fact playing a big part of how the limited-monopoly system is supposed to work by disseminating popular inventions for cheap after the monopoly ends. There's a large body of literature on this kind of thing for you to learn more from.

Edited by WirsPlm, 12 December 2013 - 00:50.






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