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Hero Pens - Why?


Blue_Moon
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If you were to visit to a large Chinese department store you'd likely find an aisle that contains nothing but fountain pens and ink. There may be a Japanese brand represented and you'll see Hero fountain pens but also a half dozen other inexpensive brands that you may not find familiar. There will also be ink - typically only in black, blue and red - not in "boutique" colors. Most Chinese neighborhoods have a small shop or two that sell a few fountain pen brands - none of which are Japanese, European or American - and some local inks.

Why does Hero copy western fountain pen styles? That probably started when, in 1948, Chinese pen factories operated by western countries, including Parker, were nationalized and the new Red Chinese government turned the Parker Pen factory over to the Shanghai Hero Pen Company. The factories then continued to manufacture pens in the same way they had previously, not so they could sell ersatz pens to foreign markets, but because the country needed writing instruments and there was a cold war going on that precluded buying authentic western pens - which no one could have afforded anyway.

China has only been open to world trade for thirty years or so and many in China have experienced affluence for fewer years than that. Hero and other pen manufacturers do not exist because a few tens of thousands of American's choose fountain pens as their hobby but because millions of Chinese people grew up writing with them and many people still do.

Great post and very informative for many here!

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I think one of the perceived "problems" with Hero pens is more metaphorical than real. What I mean is that lots of people have very uncomfortable feelings about China, their trade and manufacturing processes, their alleged industrial espionage, and their lassez-faire attitude to our intellectual property laws. It is weird that we can go to a store and see literally nothing that is not made in China. It is easier to make Hero pens stand in for these discomforts: a target we can get our heads around.

 

I'm agnostic about Hero pens; I don't want one. But I do think that people should consider the big picture, even if we can't do anything about it.

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if not for the counterfeit Hero knockoffs

 

Now that I think about it, my Hero 612 is no more of a knockoff than any other hooded nib pen with a metal cap, maybe even less so.

I doubt there's a single maker that hasn't explored that basic design, Parker might have copied it from someone else for all I know.

 

It doesn't have an arrow clip and there are features that definitely differ from Parkers, the transparrent window below the filler for instance, the spring-hinged pocket clip, the metal end jewel that matches the cap.

These are all design advances in my humble opinion.

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I wonder how many FPNers are running some bootleg software.

 

Or they may be running a program like Open Office, which is nearly identical to Microsoft Office, but free. So it is quite similar to the Parker versus Hero thing, but instead, Microsoft is Parker and Open Office is Hero...

 

Edit for typo

Edited by Taiin
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I work for a retail clothing brand that is popular around the world. It is not uncommon to find identical product put out by another popular brand. If you put the items side by side, there would be no difference except that each brand has placed its logo on its product. This is quite common, and there is nothing illegal or unethical about it. Hero and Jinhao make a pen that is very similar to the Lamy Safari, however, each pen is clearly labeled with the name of it's brand. There is no chance of mistaken identity.

 

You could definitely make the argument that Hero should stop using Parker's distinct arrown clip (especially since Parker still uses this design). On the other hand, I have never seen a Hero being advertised as a Parker.

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I am getting a bit tired of people who make up Intellectual Property Law and then insist that everybody follow their own made-up rules.

 

Amen.

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When Hero was first nationalized, they were in violation of international copyright standards. They continued to make a proprietary design that they had not paid for the rights for on machines that they didn't even pay for. That, however, was over 60 years ago.

 

Now, all the designs that they produce that I have seen available for sale are designs which are too old for patent protection. Hero has just as much right as anyone else to make a copy of the Parker 51 or the MB 149. If they do not use the original company's trademark, insignia, or name, they are within their rights by even the more strict western standards. Just because an American company has not decided to produce one does not mean a Chineese company is doing something wrong when it does.

 

Also, to reemphasize how patents become part of the public domain, there are over 50 different companies selling a design by John Moses Browning patented by the Colt Patent Firearms Company in 1911. It has been in continuous production for over 100 years and is currently produced in greater numbers and by more companies than ever (except during WWII). Colt's share of international sales is less than 10%. Most of these companies even use the original designation of the product: the model 1911.

Edited by byggyns

_______________________________________

"Over the Mountain

Of the Moon

Down the Valley of the Shadow

Ride, boldly ride,"

The shade replied,

"If you seek for Eldorado." - E. A. Poe

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Or they may be running a program like Open Office, which is nearly identical to Microsoft Office, but free. So it is quite similar to the Parker versus Hero thing, but instead, Microsoft is Parker and Open Office is Hero...

 

Edit for typo

My first computer was an Amurrican-made IBM clone. God bless American copy-cat "ingenuity."

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By the standards some are trying to apply here, everyone running a computer with a graphical user interface with windows and mouse/other pointing device (other than Apple kit ...).

 

.

Touché

Paper Tiger II

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What I find odd is that in this thread, most people are positing reasons for Hero's exsistance that seem to assume Hero's entire purpose was to make pens for export.

Hero exsists because it was one of China's state-owned pen factories. It still exsists because it is a popular brand in China. They make lookalikes because that is pretty much standard practice in every Chinese industry, used to be pretty standard stuff in the Soviet Union as well.

Heros are not Counterfeit by the letter of the law, you can call them knockoffs if you want. They aren't stealing sales from Parker, Parker no longer makes a 51 or any model like it.

 

TL;DR Hero and it's models EXSIST because of communism and nationalized industry; they PERSIST because they are popular at home and gaining popularity abroad.

<em class='bbc'>I started nowhere, ended up back there. I caught a fever and it burned up my blood. It was a pity, I left the city; I did me some travelin' but it's done me no good.</em> - Buffalo Clover "The Ruse"

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By the standards some are trying to apply here, everyone running a computer with a graphical user interface with windows and mouse/other pointing device (other than Apple kit ...).

 

.

By the standards set here, everyone INCLUDING Mac users is an offender. I seriously doubt anyone is accessing this forum via a Xerox Alto.

<em class='bbc'>I started nowhere, ended up back there. I caught a fever and it burned up my blood. It was a pity, I left the city; I did me some travelin' but it's done me no good.</em> - Buffalo Clover "The Ruse"

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You should see these discussions when it applies to musical instruments, such as guitars.

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I love and despise Hero. The latter is mainly connected to their quality control, which can be painfully spotty (which probably has some foundation in the rates of pay on the assembly line, which is reflected in the difference of cost between a mid-range Lamy/Parker/Sheaffer/Cross and a mid-range Hero). I love that they offer rather cheap pens that are accessible to most depths of pocket.

 

The emulation of more expensive pens is something that goes WAY back...

http://dirck.delint.ca/beta/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Remington-0062.jpg

... do you think you might mistake that for a Sheaffer Balance, sticking out of a pocket, across a room?

 

I won't ever defend a pen labeled as something it's not, whether it's a Hero pretending to be a Montblanc, or one of those horrifying things full of spider legs and bits of tin which is pretending to be a Hero (yes, there are knock-offs of Heros). However, when the pen doing the looking like is branded properly, and it writes in keeping with its cost, I have no complaints to level. I've only ever held a Montblanc, a Montegrappa, or and Anchora because someone said to me, "Do you think you can get this thing to write?" and that's utterly scandalous. This thing below, which admits to not actually being a Parker Sonnet, worked brilliantly out of the box.

 

http://dirck.delint.ca/beta/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Baoer-0383.jpg

 

A lot of people tell me I look rather like Kevin Spacey. I hope no one is going to yell at me for not being as good an actor.

Ravensmarch Pens & Books
It's mainly pens, just now....

Oh, good heavens. He's got a blog now, too.

 

fpn_1465330536__hwabutton.jpg

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It's all to do with the market. If Hero can make pens of similar or superior quality to the pens that they copy then people will buy them. If not, they'll buy the original. The designs of Parker and Lamy etc are not exactly copyrightable because they're so generic - it would be like Parker or Sheaffer copyrighting a rectangle or triangle.

 

 

It's great for the consumer because we can buy a knock off for a much cheaper price. If the original brand don't want people to buy Hero pens then they should either lower their prices significantly or offer better value for money.

 

All is fair in love and fountain pen markets

Edited by WateryFlow
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From across the room, your acting looks fabulous! B)

 

{tips hat, winks, trips over potted plant and disappears down an unexpected flight stairs, feet last}

Ravensmarch Pens & Books
It's mainly pens, just now....

Oh, good heavens. He's got a blog now, too.

 

fpn_1465330536__hwabutton.jpg

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Last time this came up I gave the example of Ruger copying the essential elements of the Colt Peacemaker. I have yet to see anybody suggest a boycott of Ruger.

Yep, or Uberti, Taurus and Pietta. Parts from my Winchester 92 and Taurus M92 are interchangeable.

 

Hero and it's models EXSIST because of communism and nationalized industry; they PERSIST because they are popular at home and gaining popularity abroad.

To me, this is the most succinct explanation.

http://i1339.photobucket.com/albums/o715/drew_dunn1/Clan-MacNeil-Buaidh-No-Bas-Victory-or-Death_zps051b46b5.jpg

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Oops

Wrong post.

Edited by FountainPages

http://img525.imageshack.us/img525/606/letterji9.png

 

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.

 

Mark Twain

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If you were to visit to a large Chinese department store you'd likely find an aisle that contains nothing but fountain pens and ink. There may be a Japanese brand represented and you'll see Hero fountain pens but also a half dozen other inexpensive brands that you may not find familiar. There will also be ink - typically only in black, blue and red - not in "boutique" colors. Most Chinese neighborhoods have a small shop or two that sell a few fountain pen brands - none of which are Japanese, European or American - and some local inks.

 

Why does Hero copy western fountain pen styles? That probably started when, in 1948, Chinese pen factories operated by western countries, including Parker, were nationalized and the new Red Chinese government turned the Parker Pen factory over to the Shanghai Hero Pen Company. The factories then continued to manufacture pens in the same way they had previously, not so they could sell ersatz pens to foreign markets, but because the country needed writing instruments and there was a cold war going on that precluded buying authentic western pens - which no one could have afforded anyway.

 

China has only been open to world trade for thirty years or so and many in China have experienced affluence for fewer years than that. Hero and other pen manufacturers do not exist because a few tens of thousands of American's choose fountain pens as their hobby but because millions of Chinese people grew up writing with them and many people still do.

Very Well Said!

http://img525.imageshack.us/img525/606/letterji9.png

 

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.

 

Mark Twain

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