For the record, I'm not condoning or supporting piracy in any way.
This is probably getting a little political, but anyway. I was reacting to georgl's post where he spoke about German and Swiss companies using Korean workers. Many western companies use Asia as production bases to get over environmental and other regulatory concerns in their own countries. This is legal, because most Asian countries do not yet have these regulations. But is it moral? From whose perspective?
"Giving business to cloners"
Anyone who has used Sigma, Tokina or Tamron lenses on Canons and Nikons, Hasselblad lenses on Mamiya cameras, Hy6 mount backs on Cambo and Alpa cameras has given business to cloners. This would probably mean all of us.
As far as the Cube and MultiFlex are concerned, as I said, we don't know if there's a patent infringement. If there is one, then A/S should be able to stop PhotoClam from producing the MultiFlex. Otherwise, it's Economics 101. If A/S dropped their price to $1500, almost everyone would prefer to buy the Cube. People are willing to pay a premium for quality, but they somewhat object to being gouged. Dropping the price would immediately stop production of the MultiFlex. AFAIK, Jack bought his Cube in 2005 for $1300. Does anyone think there's a rational reason for the price to double in a little over three years? Has A/S increased prices on all of its products by that much? Have other manufacturers of fine photographic equipment done that? It is of course A/S' prerogative to set its own prices, but then they have to live with MultiFlexes popping up. Agreed, the MultiFlex may not be up to the quality of the Cube, but the buyers know that already.
Perhaps A/S needs an Asian marketing manager.
And I have a Manfrotto 405 which serves my needs more than adequately, so I'm not buying a Cube or a MultiFlex any time soon.
EDIT: I see Martin has said that the MultiFlex is entirely based on ARCA-SWISS intellectual property. If so, it is wrong to buy the MultiFlex. Has A/S proved its patent? Given A/S' resources, aren't they able to get PhotoClam to stop production of the MultiFlex? Doesn't their (French or Swiss) government help them in this?
EDIT: I have been informed that Alpa's Hy6/AFi mount is officially supported by Sinar and Leaf, so there was no reverse engineering there. I stand corrected.
Again, this is about marketing and economics. As photographers, we copyright our images and go after any one who copies our images. Similarly, if A/S protects its intellectual property and goes after copycats, more power to them. BUT, if we do not protect our images, we have only ourselves to blame.
If A/S has not taken the proper steps to protect itself, nothing we say here will stop PhotoClam from selling the MultiFlex. And pricing it competitively might be more effective than a patent suit.