The Costly Battle Against Chinese Knockoffs – Here’s a Real Life Example

Thousands of U.S. brands have found almost identical copies of their products being sold by Chinese companies online. From cars to clothes, the Chinese knock-off industry has grown rapidly in recent years along with the internet. With low manufacturing costs and massive demand, it doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon.

The American made Footmate® System, a brand owned by Gordon Brush® is currently dealing with the issue. Their trademarked product is a brush that goes in the shower or bath to clean, massage, and scrub feet. The product features over 11,000 bristles and suction cups on the bottom for easy use. Gordon Brush® has been producing the Footmate® System since 2012, but has been hard hit by Chinese knock-offs. The latest infringer of their established product is Allstar Products Group, a consumer products company, which released the Fresh Feet Scrubber in February.

The product below is an exact replica of the Footmate® brush, from the color scheme, to its description on their website, and an almost exact copy of their video.

While it is damaging to companies’ sales to allow the copycats to sell their products, it’s just as costly to legally battle them.

FinalStraw, a reusable straw brand, is dealing with the same issue. “It’s very burdensome on our resources,” said FinalStraw CEO Emma Cohen. “This is time that my staff could be spending doing way more productive things, versus just fighting off these knock-offs.” According to Cohen, the company has lost millions paying attorneys and contractors to fight the copycats.

Many knockoff companies work through social media influencers to develop a quick following. A recent statement by an Instagram spokesperson said “When it comes to partnering with brands, we encourage creators to act responsibly and with integrity.”

Original American brands are hoping to find an easier solution than spending millions to have the copycats taken down. For now, the best thing for brands to do is secure their intellectual property before launching–but even then, they’re still vulnerable to the knock-off industry.

While fighting the knock-offs, Vice President Alan Schechter of Gordon Brush® remains hopeful: “companies that have nothing to differentiate themselves on besides price are most vulnerable to the threat of lower-priced Chinese made products,” he said. “Offering premier products with superior customer service has enabled Gordon Brush® to grow and prosper in spite of the Chinese threat.”

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