Full credit goes to TygerTyger of Vaporjoes Canada for making such an eloquent argument.
THE HARD COPY:
It's an argument that never seems to go away. Some love them, some hate them. Some claim they fill a necessary place within the market and community, others contend they hurt authentic producers. They've been called Clones, Replicas, Knock-Offs, Copies.... and most recently, Counterfeits.
One thing is certain, time hasn't taken the edge off of the debate. Recent events have once again spotlighted the heated exchanges and even vitriol that both sides of the issue are capable of.
We took the debate straight to the dictionary....
adjective 1. made in exact imitation of something valuable or important with the intention to deceive or defraud.
noun 1. a fraudulent imitation of something else; a forgery.
verb 1. imitate fraudulently.
Upon examination of the dictionary definition, it becomes abundantly clear that any usage of the word counterfeit includes the idea of deception-- that something is being passed off as something it isn't. Thus, it's utterly inaccurate to refer to a mod regardless of where it is made, who it is made by, or how it looks, as a counterfeit unless that mod is being represented as authentic in an attempt to deceive.
We're not talking about trademarks here. However, in the all too common instance of a royalty-free or possibly not legally licensed image being usurped by a mod maker to adorn their wares, they haven't a leg to stand on if another manufacturer uses the same image. (The only person with a legitimate complaint in these instances is the original, uncompensated artist!)
We're also not defending unscrupulous sellers who would take a replica and pass it off to an unsuspecting buyer as authentic. That's fraud, plain and simple. There is no defense for being a shyster.
However, to slap the "counterfeit" label on a copy or replica that is being represented as such is not merely misleading, it's a ploy to create negative knee-jerk reactions among readers or listeners. It's a term designed to elicit shock and outrage, but are those reactions justified?
Let's face it folks, for the most part, we're talking about metal tubes with different decorating. Those who appreciate and desire authentics should seek them out and enjoy them-- but that doesn't give anyone the right to dictate how others spend their money. That's where enthusiasm crosses the line to elitism. When did a good vape become a luxury reserved for a privileged few?
What about devices with a great deal more ingenuity involved... like say, Zen's ZNA? Most readers are aware that the ZNA has been cloned. Is Zen lawyering up to file law suits and vilify those who would dare stock, purchase or use one? In fact, Zen has taken a very different and rational response to the situation:
"We live in a global economy. We have to embrace change. For those of you that feel they have stolen my design, it is true... they have... but the important thing about being in this industry is that devices like this save lives by helping people free themselves of their dependency on cigarettes and combustible tobacco." (Read more HERE.)
Zen isn't stupid. He's well aware that his is the superior product... but he's also aware that those with the clones may choose to accessorize with authentic Z2 threaded parts, and perhaps enjoy the device so much they save up for the real McCoy.
Even zArrAs, producer of the Gaia, has seen the writing on the wall and is choosing to move forward instead of paddling against the current. When a large overseas retailer started stocking clones of his work, he came in with this comment: "Thank you" for cloning my design & mod... for advertising my brand 'zArrAs' ..." (Read more HERE.) zArrAs seems to understand well what VaporJoes Network has known for a long time; There's no such thing as bad press. Thanks to the clones, a lot more people know about zArrAs, and the Gaia mechanical mod.
We've heard the tired argument time and again that clones hurt original modders, but it doesn't make any more sense the 500th time than it did the first. Those who value authentics do so because of the quality. They won't be satisfied with a cheap knock off, and won't be swayed from purchasing authentic. Those that choose a copy would never have paid for a $200-$300 mod without already knowing they're going to love it. In fact, many clone owners find a design they fall in love with and it gives them the desire to own a real version.... leading to a sale for an original modder that wouldn't have existed if not for the clone market.
It's time to take a step back and stop missing the forest for the trees, folks. We need to adopt the thinking of leaders like Zen, zArrAs and others who realize that it's less important what you're vaping on, than that you're vaping.