Perspective: Stealing the Work of Others
One year ago, in our November issue, we published an article (“Stealing Creativity”) by Lisa Readie Mayer on the counterfeiting of products that is rampant in the barbecue accessories business. It’s also a problem with barbecue appliances, and certainly with other products in the hearth, patio, and barbecue fields.
It just happens that barbecue accessories are particularly easy to knock-off, and manufacturers of barbecue appliances, and other products, are somehow reluctant to come forward.
Culprits are able to photograph products at trade shows, and/or go on the Internet to extract images, product details, and customer comments. Once copied, those products are being sold on Amazon, eBay, and other sites. Because it’s the largest company, Amazon is mentioned most often as being part of this illegal activity.
Hearth & Home is publishing another article by Mayer focusing on the illegal activity of copying the work of others, and the tremendous impact it’s having on honest manufacturers. The article is titled “Amazon: A Necessary Evil?”
With the upcoming HPBExpo in Dallas, we asked Kelly Vandermark, vice president of the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, to explain the association’s position on such counterfeiting. Here’s what she told us.
“What we typically say to any exhibitor is that our trade show is a three-day microcosm of the market during the other 362 days of the year. We do not have any special authority to decide, on our own, that one exhibitor’s product infringes on another exhibitor’s patented product. We understand that demonstrating infringement could take many months of research. Therefore, we cannot offer to close down booths (or order removal of infringing products) of competitors based on our own judgment that they are infringing.
“We do suggest two courses of action, however:
- If they (exhibitors) have a judgment of infringement from a court, we will help them enforce it at the show, i.e., if the finding of infringement and/or order states that specific other products are infringing their product.
- They can serve a cease-and-desist order on the infringers before or at the show. It has been our experience that, in some situations, the infringer will remove the product to avoid further legal troubles. This becomes more of an interaction between each party’s lawyers.
“On top of this, we do provide signs if exhibitors don’t want any pictures taken in their booth. Show Security roams the floor and any pictures that are taken without permission are removed from cameras once we are informed.
“Hours have also been shortened when exhibitors have access to the floor. They now only have access 30 minutes before the show opens each day. This keeps folks from walking around and going into booths uninvited.
“We do have a security person posted at the New Products Pavilion, an area where infringement has occurred. Security combs the floor in the evening and removes everyone pretty quickly.The lights go off within 15 minutes from show closing, making it difficult to take pictures in the dark.
“This is a topic we also plan to cover in a webinar this year with our exhibitors, and at our indoor/outdoor burn meeting since we will have many exhibitors attending.There are cameras everywhere in the ceilings, so we just have to be told that someone took a picture without permission and our security will be on it.It’s usually not a problem tracking the person down.”