“I’ll never be able to afford a Sebenza.”
“I want to try out a SOG Tomcat before a get a real one.”
“I wasn’t going to buy a real one anyway — might as well get a fake.”
“It’s not hurting anyone.”
These are common arguments from people trying to justify buying knockoff and counterfeit knives.
To those people, all I say is NO. Counterfeit knives are not only harmful to the designers and makers but can also be harmful to you.
If you’re not dissuaded from buying clones or knockoffs, this post will hopefully open your eyes to the dangers and pitfalls of buying fakes. Here’s why you should only buy a real and legitimate knife.
A Note on Terminology
Clones, knockoffs, counterfeits, homages. What’s the difference? All of these terms are typically used to mean one of two things.
A knife passed off as the real thing.
A counterfeit knife is one that looks exactly like the real thing — with branding, all the design elements, and even packaging information — but is not from the actual company.
A knife that steals designs from another model.
If it looks like a Spyderco, functions like a Spyderco, but is called an Arachnidco, it’s a stolen design. It may not have the branding of the original but it may be a heavily borrowed design. This is not necessarily a counterfeit knife, but the effects are the same.
1) Counterfeit knives cause loss in sales.
This one is the most obvious reason not to buy a counterfeit knife: you’re taking away money from those who made the original. Multinational brands typically lose around 10 percent of their annual revenue to counterfeiters, according to the Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce.
The American Knife & Tool Institute has some knife stats for you.
“Based on the latest ‘AKTI State of the Sporting Knife and Tool Industry Report,’ we conservatively estimate that the annual financial impact on the sporting knife and tool industry is around $80 million,” said AKTI Executive Director Jan Billeb back in 2013.
Imagine spending all this time, money, and resources on making the best product possible only to have everyone copy the product and sell it as their own. Not only does all your hard work go unpaid but it has to feel just awful and could possibly discourage people from making new things.
Millions of dollars each year are going away from those who deserve it to criminals trying to make a buck off of others.
2) Knife companies incur unforeseen costs.
Aside from the loss of revenue from sales, counterfeiting puts a big financial burden on knife companies you may not have considered.