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Thread: Save $

  1. #51
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    Re: Save $

    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.

    Cheers,
    Kumar

    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.
    Last edited by FromJapan; 15th April 2009 at 00:31. Reason: clarification

  2. #52
    Senior Member Graham Mitchell's Avatar
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry Goh View Post
    I think several people here have painted every country in Asia with one BIG brush when they actually mean China. That in itself shows the ignorance of many Westerners.
    I don't think anyone is doing that and I certainly didn't. I referred to 'problem asian goods' - a term which actually implies that there are non-problem goods too!

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry Goh View Post
    Japan is in ASIA and are you saying Japanese knock off US or European products? Laughable.
    Again, wondering who you are addressing this question to? I certainly never said anything like that.

  3. #53
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    Re: Save $

    Graham: not you.

  4. #54
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry Goh View Post
    I think several people here have painted every country in Asia with one BIG brush when they actually mean China. That in itself shows the ignorance of many Westerners.
    Whoa, I didn't see anyone saying this. Something seems to have hit an existing nerve. And about tarring with a big brush, what do you think "westerners" feel about reading such an accusation? Really, you ought to match what you get insulted by with what you say a little more carefully.

    Japan is in ASIA and are you saying Japanese knock off US or European products? Laughable.
    Laughable? Fact, historically. Here is one example:

    http://www.pacificrimcamera.com/pp/copies/lcindex.htm

    I agree that Japanese products *today* aren't copies, but the Japanese photo industry got to where it is today by copying, so I do think this is a question of "thou doth protest too much".

    Now this role has moved to other countries, such as China, but it isn't elegant to claim innocence and then point the finger at the neighbour, when, apart from the timing, the strategy was the same. How do you think the Chinese members of this forum feel about your statement?
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  5. #55
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    Re: Save $

    A bit OT, but the issue of patents got me thinking. In Asia, community knowledge is the norm. Trade secrets are handed down through family members, and are rarely documented. Since the idea of family and community are so strong, these secrets are rarely betrayed, and those who do so are treated as traitors, with appropriate punishment. The idea of revealing secrets to government authorities so that they can be legally protected is an alien concept.

    On a side note, did any of you know of biopiracy? I invite you to read this:
    http://www1.american.edu/ted/turmeric.htm
    http://www1.american.edu/ted/basmati.htm
    http://www1.american.edu/TED/enola-bean.htm
    http://www1.american.edu/ted/maca.htm
    http://www1.american.edu/projects/ma...ED/lifepat.htm

    Cheers,
    Kumar

  6. #56
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    Laughable? Fact, historically. Here is one example:
    http://www.pacificrimcamera.com/pp/copies/lcindex.htm
    I agree that Japanese products *today* aren't copies, but the Japanese photo industry got to where it is today by copying, so I do think this is a question of "thou doth protest too much".
    This page says "Canon had built and marketed a camera inspired by the Leica in 1935. But they had gone to great pains to design around existing patents, and these early cameras did not take Leica mount lenses." Perfectly legal. Moral? Ethical? You decide.

    And "As part of German war reparations, all German patents were made public. This was done with the intention of helping allied industry, but the effect in the photographic world was to create a giant postwar Japanese photo industry." Again, absolutely legal, though old-time employees of Zeiss and Leica might disagree.

    Cheers,
    Kumar

  7. #57
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    Re: Save $

    Yes, I agree. I understand that the patents were open, but there is more to it than is written in this page. I believe that it was Canon who started copying the Leica after several top executives had a Leica factory tour, for example... Anyway, my point was that "laughable" is inappropriate here. Japan has a long history of first copying products (whether exact or not), and then improving them over time. I am not against this strategy, by the way. I think it is brilliant, even if it lacks a little vision and R&D initially. I don't advocate violating patents however, and if this is the case with the A-S head, then this should be made public so that those who make purchase with morality in mind can make the appropriate decisions.
    Carsten - Website

  8. #58
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    Re: Save $

    If only A/S would state unequivocally that yes, they have a patent, this is the patent number and and they've already filed a dispute with the patent office, all this conversation, though entertaining, could have been avoided.

    A/S is technically brilliant, but needs a better marketing manager.

    Cheers,
    Kumar

  9. #59
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    Re: Save $

    i doubt the application of the goniometric device can be patented; it has been in the public domain for at least 40 years (i used to spec and use Spectra Physics devices way back when).
    the real issue is an ethical one, especially since we are only speculating about "legal" property. Ethics and legality are not the same in my book
    so I pose this question: doesn't the fact that the Clam is what appears to be a dead ringer for the cube imply that only one of the manufacturers did the R&D? And therefore, legality aside, is it ethically correct to buy the cheapest (the knockoff)?
    my position is to support for higher standard, not necessarily determined by the $

    few of the other examples illustrate such an obviously identical copying

  10. #60
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    Re: Save $

    Setting the patent issue aside and just considering the ethical side, I'd vote with my wallet and buy the knockoff. It really isn't my problem as consumer if the original designer cannot protect its intellectual property.

    There is no such thing as an ethical responsibility for me as consumer to hand over my hard-earned money to a corporation. This is part of the competitive business landscape - if you cannot protect your market share you are doomed. My brand loyalty in petrol stretches as far as half a percentage point in price difference - why should tripod heads be any different? Once again, not my problem as consumer.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

  11. #61
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    Re: Save $

    Well put Lars.

  12. #62
    Senior Member Graham Mitchell's Avatar
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by Lars Vinberg View Post
    Setting the patent issue aside and just considering the ethical side, I'd vote with my wallet and buy the knockoff. It really isn't my problem as consumer if the original designer cannot protect its intellectual property.
    I think that's really harsh. All inventors and designers would LIKE to protect their work and I think they deserve to earn the reward for their effort and contribution. In an ideal world, they could all afford to do it but do you realize how difficult and expensive it can be for a family-size business to get a worldwide patent?

    And if they can only afford a local patent, is it right that someone else copies the device outside of that region? Would you be ok with someone selling prints of your photos worldwide in a country where it happened to be legal?

    This is a slippery slope and I'm a bit surprised that so many photographers would gladly turn their back on other 'creators'.

  13. #63
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    Re: Save $

    I echo that sentiment, Graham. As people who create, we are all to some extent hit by this, at least in theory. Anyone can look at the interesting idea behind one of our photos (well, maybe not mine, but the rest of you), and decide to copy it blatantly. To be blind to the frustration and anger this causes, as well as potential legal hassles for direct copies, is to be very blinkered, IMO. Arca-Swiss has designed something which is far more than just a goniometric device here. Rather it is the ingenious combination of several existing ideas, with some own ideas, and it is the entire combination which is unique, and this is what has been blatantly ripped off, as well as some gorgeous industrial design.

    If the Korean company had copied just one aspect, that would be understandable, but to copy the entire device with its many facets is immoral and unethical, and probably illegal. I do wish that Arca-Swiss would make the presumed struggle public, to raise awareness of the issue. If the Korean company saw some kind of backlash due to their behaviour, maybe they would cancel the product and stay within reasonable competitive behavioural guidelines.

    Personally, I find myself hoping that the copy is of inferior quality and manufactured with sufficiently low tolerance that it becomes useless in practice. This is not inconceivable, given that the design as is presumably relies heavily on exact tolerances throughout the design. I did see someone on another forum who had bought one and complained of sloppy tolerances in some axis.
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  14. #64
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    Re: Save $

    It's not that photographers are turning their backs on other creators. I have had my photos copied off the web. I've had clients (architects!) sell my photos to contractors at a profit. It's simply a fact of life, and we have to deal with it. Ethics and morals are only one facet. Another is simply good business. I now do shared assignments involving all parties. That gets me a much larger fee, and at the same time lowers the cost to each party. Win-win all round, plus no hassles, no legal stuff.

    So tell me, how would you deal with someone who copied your photos in a country that doesn't really care too much about such things? For me, if it's worthwhile, I pursue it. If not, send a letter and see where it leads. What else can you, as an individual photographer, do?

    Kumar

  15. #65
    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
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    Re: Save $

    Well, it's a fact of business life. Yes I have specifically looked into patenting some of my software inventions. I make software but cannot patent or protect it (in the US) - I don't have the war chest of millions of dollars to defend my patents. The US patent system works for large corporations on the expense of individual investors. It is also strongly biased against foreign inventors - look up Håkan Lans to see how the US courts blatantly ripped off a Swedish inventor and patent holder.

    Re my own photos, I only sell prints, not digital files. It's the simplest way for me to protect my work.

    But the bottom line is still about money - my money, not AS' money. If there is a 60% discount on a rippoff clone then I will buy the rippoff and thereby send a message to the original manufacturer that its business model is flawed and needs to be revised to stay competitive.

    Now, if this was about a starving artist selling paintings I might reconsider, but in this case we are talking about commercial industrial products made for profit.
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  16. #66
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by foto-z View Post
    That's not the issue at all with these 'problem' Asian goods. The first issue is the legal issue of patent infringement, the second issue is the moral issue of giving your business to the 'cloners' (even if it's legal) who didn't spend the money on R&D, and finally there are quality and support issues such as durability, fit, smoothness, warranty.
    A moral obligation? Wow, Islamic, Christian or Jewish? I hope that you're kidding, how did choosing between 2 competing products suddenly become a moral issue? I'm not condoning copying or ripping anyone's hard work off, but please, lets keep things in perspective here.

    Quality and support issues; I have several AS products which are beautifully built and a joy to use which I bought at a premium. I have also have a few parts by other manufacturers which cost a lot less and get the job done just as well but have a different feel, so what. As far as customer support is concerned, my personal experience with AS has been very bad, actually the poorest that I've seen in the specialized market. I have never received a reply to any of e-mails to the company, whether it was for tech support, product inquiries or simply checking on a very overdue order. I hate to think what will happen if I need to service one my AS cameras or heads and need a part for it. I've heard similar complaints from a number of their vendors too, so nothing to gain here, buying AS products for their customer support.

    2nd, patent infringement issues are not the business of the consumer, nor within the legal understanding of most. I find it even more ridiculous that people are asking AS to prove themselves and supply a copy of their patent when its not our business, nor are we a court of law here.

    It is the responsibility of the patent holder to protect its property and remove the so called clones from the market place, unfortunately its often a lengthy, expensive and futile exercise.

    Quote Originally Posted by foto-z View Post
    You might feel differently if you were an inventor who'd spent years on an innovative new design.

    For example, see http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=3467568n (there may be a short ad displayed first)
    I have my own patents that I've fought in the past to defend, and am currently in litigation with a large European corporation over a patent infringement issue. Sure, I don't like it and I'll never be able to recoup the cost of this litigation even if I win, I'm not even certain if I can the cost of this litigation, but its part of doing business, that's all. At best we can try to diplomatically make our clients aware of the situation but this has nothing to do with the consumer and at this point they're free to choose and purchase either product which better suits their budget and tastes.

  17. #67
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by Lars Vinberg View Post
    Now, if this was about a starving artist selling paintings I might reconsider, but in this case we are talking about commercial industrial products made for profit.
    Some of us do work for profit, and aren't exactly starving, though we're artists.
    If A/S were smarter, they could have priced the Cube at $1500, and PhotoClam wouldn't have had the incentive to make a clone. If they were really, really smart, they would have lowered the price to $1000 after the clone came out, and destroyed the Korean company's investment.

    Kumar

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    Re: Save $

    I hope all the folks here shouting for moral and ethical behavior on the part of the manufacturers are not using MS Windows machines... THAT would be taking hypocrisy too far...

  19. #69
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by ARCA View Post
    Just to clarify a few points and stop speculation:

    I simply asked Mr. Rethmeier questions in a PM, based on his comments which I did not agree with or which I found incorrect in relation with the links provided.
    I was NOT:
    -asking for any apologies
    -that he deletes his comments,
    -threatening anybody with legal stuff

    But it is our interest to inform customers that this product is entirely based on ARCA-SWISS intellectual property.

    kdphotography:
    As a side note, Arca apparently has either horrible customer service or an apparent severe apathy towards consumers. I know Capture Integration made several requests for the Cube (yup---a real one!) and Arca apparently didn't think well enough to provide one to a dealer to sell.....

    We have about a dozen Cubes for demonstration purposes at dealers Worldwide. However we are sometimes not able to supply a Cube for a certain
    Show or Demo because they are all out at the dealers or not back in time.

    Regards
    Martin Vogt
    Hi Martin,

    Its good to hear from you so that we know your side of what actually transpired here.

    Unfortunately, as much as I like your products, on the issue of customer support I have to side with kdphotography and others, in my experience, it leaves quite a lot to be desired...

  20. #70
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by FromJapan View Post
    Some of us do work for profit, and aren't exactly starving, though we're artists.
    If A/S were smarter, they could have priced the Cube at $1500, and PhotoClam wouldn't have had the incentive to make a clone. If they were really, really smart, they would have lowered the price to $1000 after the clone came out, and destroyed the Korean company's investment.

    Kumar
    And what do they tell their loyal customer who paid 2k+ for theirs? Their only choice is to try to PhotoClam through legal action, the price war assumes too much about the knowledge of consumer that competing products even exist.

  21. #71
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by shakeshuck View Post
    I hope all the folks here shouting for moral and ethical behavior on the part of the manufacturers are not using MS Windows machines... THAT would be taking hypocrisy too far...
    Or how many own AS type plates and clamps made by others!

  22. #72
    Senior Member Graham Mitchell's Avatar
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by ddk View Post
    A moral obligation? Wow, Islamic, Christian or Jewish? I hope that you're kidding
    I never used the word obligation, so you're off on your own tangent there

  23. #73
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by ddk View Post
    And what do they tell their loyal customer who paid 2k+ for theirs? Their only choice is to try to PhotoClam through legal action, the price war assumes too much about the knowledge of consumer that competing products even exist.
    They tell them the same thing that Hasselblad told its loyal customers when they dropped prices. A few people on this forum know what they said.

  24. #74
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by foto-z View Post
    I never used the word obligation, so you're off on your own tangent there
    Yes, you never used the word obligation but I don't see how I'm off on a different tangent:

    Quote Originally Posted by foto-z View Post
    I think the question is, should anyone be promoting a product which is in breach of IP law, even if you are not breaking the law by buying it? It might be legal but is it ethical? (I don't mean this as an attack on Willem because I doubt he did it intentionally)
    Quote Originally Posted by foto-z View Post
    That's not the issue at all with these 'problem' Asian goods. The first issue is the legal issue of patent infringement, the second issue is the moral issue of giving your business to the 'cloners' (even if it's legal) who didn't spend the money on R&D, and finally there are quality and support issues such as durability, fit, smoothness, warranty.
    Quote Originally Posted by foto-z View Post
    This is a slippery slope and I'm a bit surprised that so many photographers would gladly turn their back on other 'creators'.

  25. #75
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    Re: Save $

    wow here comes the asia hatin'.

    if you go to HK there are alot of "knock offs" and sure some of the quality isn't up to snuff,
    but at least they give me brochures, price lists, and can get one in from Shenzhen in 3 days.

    When I try to buy european photo equipment I have to hunt to find someone who supplies it, and it takes a month for something to be sent over.plus they don't seem interested in following up on queries or trying to make the effort to sell me something. If I acted like this with my clients I would quickly be out of work

    Welcome to the 21st century. You can have a good innovation but if you really want to build customer loyalty or convince people to pay good money for your stuff, continue to innovate and be one step ahead of the competition. Your innovations should be unique enough to justify their price and desirability.

    btw in terms of innovation in photography I really wonder which country is the one that's leading the pack.
    Last time I checked my european digital back still had a LCD screen the quality worse than my first 1megapixel fuji digital camera back in 1998.
    my Canon has a live-view mode that zooms up to 10x for focusing.
    the difference in attitude is night and day

    the only obligation a consumer has is to the people who actually consider their consumers important enough to offer them what they need at a price that's feasible.

  26. #76
    Senior Member Graham Mitchell's Avatar
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by ddk View Post
    Yes, you never used the word obligation but I don't see how I'm off on a different tangent:
    Well you started bring 'obligation' and religion into things which achieves nothing but obfuscation and was far from my point. A debate on morality is beyond the scope of this forum, so I will simply say that some purchase choices can be immoral in my opinion and you are free to disagree.

  27. #77
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    If the Korean company had copied just one aspect, that would be understandable, but to copy the entire device with its many facets is immoral and unethical, and probably illegal. I do wish that Arca-Swiss would make the presumed struggle public, to raise awareness of the issue. If the Korean company saw some kind of backlash due to their behaviour, maybe they would cancel the product and stay within reasonable competitive behavioural guidelines.

    Personally, I find myself hoping that the copy is of inferior quality and manufactured with sufficiently low tolerance that it becomes useless in practice. This is not inconceivable, given that the design as is presumably relies heavily on exact tolerances throughout the design. I did see someone on another forum who had bought one and complained of sloppy tolerances in some axis.
    haaaaahahahahahahaha.
    Backlash due to their behavior? what, that they're offering a product that can easily be purchased online rather than jumpin through hoops and joining a club and waiting a month to get a product from an european company?

    yes the tolerances might not be as exact as an arca swiss, but personally I HOPE that it is. might go to show that all the talk about all the incredible skills and training of european manufacturing is not as big a deal as people make it out to be, and spur Arca swiss to be more competitive and innovative.

  28. #78
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by jingq View Post
    haaaaahahahahahahaha.
    Backlash due to their behavior? what, that they're offering a product that can easily be purchased online rather than jumpin through hoops and joining a club and waiting a month to get a product from an european company?
    Arca-Swiss' (lack of) support is a completely separate issue. There are no clubs.

    The issue here is that there appears to be two kinds of people here (apart from the various "Asia and Europe haters" this thread seems to be full of, if one is to believe the flying accusations):

    - Those who would buy a rip-off product knowing that a patent lawsuit was happening.

    - Those who would not.

    There appears to be no one here taking the position that they would buy a copy only if it was legal. This puzzles me a bit, but I guess that is the world we live in.
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post

    There appears to be no one here taking the position that they would buy a copy only if it was legal. This puzzles me a bit, but I guess that is the world we live in.
    Carsten, I think that nobody has said definitively it is illegal, so the assumption is it's legal. Even Arca themselves, who clearly know about it to the point of saying it involves their IP, have not officially said it is in violation of any patent they hold...
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    Re: Save $

    we live in a global economy and as such. cheaper labor in some areas can make less expensive products, not necessarily less accurately made products.

    but WTF; it piques my bile to see what appears to be an exact copy. this is not about the economies of geography, it is about ripping off another's work. apply any noun you want for "cube", be it book, poem, DVD, PHOTOGRAPH, song...the same argument applies

  31. #81
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Even Arca themselves, who clearly know about it to the point of saying it involves their IP, have not officially said it is in violation of any patent they hold...
    They may be muzzled by the legal process if this action is still pending. Let's not jump to conclusions

  32. #82
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Carsten, I think that nobody has said definitively it is illegal, so the assumption is it's legal. Even Arca themselves, who clearly know about it to the point of saying it involves their IP, have not officially said it is in violation of any patent they hold...
    Jack, the people who have said they would buy the copy have gone to extra lengths to point out that any legal issues are not their problem, and that Arca-Swiss has to deal with it, not them.
    Carsten - Website

  33. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by jlm View Post
    we live in a global economy and as such. cheaper labor in some areas can make less expensive products, not necessarily less accurately made products.

    but WTF; it piques my bile to see what appears to be an exact copy. this is not about the economies of geography, it is about ripping off another's work. apply any noun you want for "cube", be it book, poem, DVD, PHOTOGRAPH, song...the same argument applies
    and the price for the cube is ripping off customers IMO...

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    Maybe if A-S excluded the designer "Corinthian" leather box they could lower the price to $1,250 and still make a comfortable profit.


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    This is kind of an interesting thread that crosses into so many areas. The "Cube" that A/S has built and is selling at a price that some find quite high, is quite an attractive and effective device, based on what owners and users have commented. They decided to put it into the marketplace, knowing that they either owned patents and are prepared to defend them or not. That is a simple, but important business decision on their part. Did they get it right or blow it? Time will tell. They knew how much effort went into the construction and build, and apparently, the earlier price, though maybe a bit shocking to some, was reasonable. When they were either unable, or unwilling to fill orders for it, and then elevated the price significantly, what did they expect others in the market to do? They set themselves up for someone to copy and produce more cheaply. Does that make what the Korean company did wrong? Maybe not, especially if the "Cube" is not covered under patents to protect it, or if A/S is not prepared to defend those patents. They saw a product that had building demand, low availability, and a price point that the market was straining at. Seems like a perfect "storm" set of conditions to come in and create a clone, sell it at a more reasonable price, and make some money.

    With respect to IP.....well, if A/S feels "hurt" or infringed upon, they had the chance to flood the market with their version at a price that would have made it a lot harder for the Korean company to copy, tool up, and put into production to make a profit themselves. For all anybody knows, the Cube may only cost $50 in materials and another $200-300 in build labor and distribution. We just do not know that part of the equation. Obviously it has to be something reasonable to encourage somebody else to build it and sell it for a lot less than A/S. Fine machining can be done almost everywhere in the world today.

    The interesting point, for those railing against "the Asians" and other such lumpings, is when some of these IP "kings" go out of business, or stop designing and building cool stuff like this. Then what will there be to copy? That is not saying the folks copying things do not have their own ideas or designs, as we know they do, but one of their strengths seems to be in the ability to produce things of high enough quality at low enough costs to be able to effectively compete in the marketplace. Anybody remember how much of toy the Hyundai or Kia automobiles were when first introduced? What about what they are building today? Maybe not the cost of a Mercedes, but gee, they are not horrible cheap heaps either anymore. Something to be said for that.

    Policing the markets is not the responsibility of the consumer. They select things all the time based on the criteria that matters to them: price, service, availability, innovation, etc. They will seek it wherever they can find it.

    In the case of the Cube versus the Clam-whaever.....if the clone does the job, satisfies the buyer and comes in a price that is attractive, it will succeed. If A/S is unable or unwilling to fight that competition, be it in court over valid patents, or in the marketplace by offering a competitive price, good service, and all those other things that buyers seek, then they will suffer. It is too bad if they fail, as a lot of their designs are quite slick and I would hate to see them be "lost", but why should I, as a consumer have to pay some quite high premium for something when it may be available elsewhere for considerably less? I have to deal with this myself when selling my prints and services.....A/S does also. If the Cube is vastly superior in build, and for what it does, the market will help select it to its top. If it is just overpriced, it will be relegated to collectors.

    Just my thoughts on this.

    LJ

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    Re: Save $

    "[T]he price for the cube is ripping off customers IMO?" Does that mean that you are opposed to theft, to "ripping off"? If so, how is it okay to steal AS's design?

    I find this discussion very interesting. People who think it's okay to buy the clone, that they have no obligation to avoid a copied product whether or not it violates someone else's legal rights. (I don't know whether it does; I'm just a lawyer.) Yet these same people feel okay about defending their rights vis-a-vis photos or designs they've created.

    Pick one: (1) I have no problem with buying the copy, whatever the legailty of its production, and have no problem with people taking what I've created for their own use without paying me, or (2) I don't want to be ripped off, and won't buy from someone who's ripping someone else off.

    For what it's worth, the purpose of the patent and copyright laws is to encourage people to create by offering them legal protection for a period of time, by giving them a monopoly on their creation. That's why patented drugs cost more than generics. (Now there's something you might complain about: medicine might be even more essential than a geared tripod head.)

    Steve

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    Senior Member Graham Mitchell's Avatar
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    Well said, Steve. It's also interesting that some people are justifying the 'theft' based on AS's high price. Last time I checked a company was free to charge what it wants for a patented device, and the consumer is free to not pay that price if he finds it too high. Either it's ok to steal a design or it isn't - the price doesn't come into it.

    Graham

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    Re: Save $

    Graham, Steve,
    For all we know, A/S might have a design licensing agreement with the maker of the Clam, or possibly the manufacturing of the Cube has been outsorced to the maker of the Clam.

    It's not unusual for precision manufacturing to be outsourced to China and Korea, and it's not unusual for the factory to run the night shift to produce rebranded runs, with the brand holder's silent approval. For example North Face does this in Vietnam - you can buy genuine North Face products locally for a tenth of the overseas price and it is literally the same product.

    The point is we don't know so it's premature to talk about theft.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

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    Therein lies the main issue....is the Cube protected under patents or not? If it is, then A/S should defend them. If not, then those bets are off. If the Cube is a patented design, then we should be paying up for whatever A/S thinks they can sell it for. That is their choice, and ours as well. I do not own a Cube, though I think it a pretty slick device, because I just cannot justify that cost compared to other things I need and use....my A/S B1 does a pretty decent job for my needs so far. I would not purchase the clone for the same reason....still too much money for what my budget wants to afford.

    I do not like having my photos ripped off, and I have taken the time, energy and expense to protect them as best I am able. That is MY responsibility when I place things into the marketplace, and there are laws (copyright in this case) that are in place to help me. I expect the same from others. I do not like seeing anybody being ripped off, but if folks are creating and selling stuff to make money themselves, they have a responsibility to themselves or their firms to do what is needed to protect their work.

    If A/S takes the actions it needs and wins, then good for them. If they do not....well, they will learn another lesson in business. As Jack and others have said, the goniometer is not something new, nor probably IP belonging to A/S. Plus, there are a limited number of ways to do some things. Folks were talking earlier about camera designs and who stole what from whom. Let's get real here also....there are limited number of ways to make a light tight box that takes a lens and is able to capture images onto a standard roll of film. That is why the fights were not over the design of the box so much, but more over how the lenses attached. In fact, that is still were most of the battles are. Think about the Leica S2.....still just a box with a sensor, but Leica is being very careful about what kind of glass will be allowed to go onto their body.

    LJ
    Last edited by LJL; 15th April 2009 at 14:19.

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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by LJL View Post
    Therein lies the main issue....is the Cube protected under patents or not? If it is, then A/S should defend them. If not, then those bets are off.
    Exactly.
    Jack
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  41. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by LJL View Post
    Therein lies the main issue....is the Cube protected under patents or not? If it is, then A/S should defend them. If not, then those bets are off.
    So if you see an old lady being mugged, your response is "if she doesn't defend herself then she asked for it"? Got it

    The ability of a patent holder to defend itself has no bearing on the morality of buying the illegal product.

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    Graham,
    Your example is not germane. If I saw an old lady being mugged, I would come to her defense, because she both needed it, and because there are clearly known and understood laws everywhere that protect her. A crime is being committed. (Interestingly, there are even issues over that right now, with victims bringing legal action against the good samaritan in some cases....go figure.) In the case of A/S, if the law is being broken, there is recourse for them to take, BUT it is unclear if any laws are being broken....maybe some feeling being hurt or some business being shifted, but until it is clear that laws are being broken, what is the point of the argument? People and firms come up with great ideas all the time. Those that act on the ideas and successfully bring them to market can benefit, but they also must take actions to see that the laws set out to protect them are enforced. A/S obviously knows about Clam. They are unhappy. Boo hoo. If their patents have been infringed, then they have the law on their side wherever it applies, and it is their right and obligation to protect their interest. How about that old lady pulling a 9mm from her purse and taking care of business? ;-)

    LJ

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    Re: Save $

    psst! want to buy some dvd's...cheap?

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    Re: Save $

    I think this thread has gone off on a non-productive tangent unless there is a patent lawyer in the group who has been fully informed of the facts who would care to comment. This is really technical stuff - reaching a conclusion requires careful parsing of the patent application and an understanding of the prior art, as well as a detailed understanding of the allegedly infringing device. The fact that a patent has been granted is not definitive - a substantial proportion of US patents don't survive judicial challenge because the courts in the US sometimes apply a higher standard of what constitutes an "invention" than the patent office.

    What we really need is for someone who has one of these things to write up a brief review.
    Last edited by Woody Campbell; 15th April 2009 at 15:00.

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    Woody, I agree. I would love to see a good, unbiased review of both side by side, along with a clear statement from A/S, if applicable that there are patents or not, and what laws are being broken that would make the Clam "illegal" as some think. With that kind of clear, unbiased information and review, I think folks could more easily make their own educated decision on what to do or support.

    LJ

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    I've asked The Boss(Jack) if I could borrow his Cube.
    The Multiflex should be here any day now.
    Also,I'm sort of shell shocked at the moment of all the replies.

    BTW: My Rolex and my wife's Hermes Birkin Bag are real.

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    Re: Save $

    My Panerai is real anyone wanna buy it. LOL

    Woody I agree, without a patent lawyer in the house we are just talking in circles and it is not really our issue that would be interesting but more if this thing is actually any good at all and if it truly does work as advertised.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Multiflex has arrived!
    Bummer no leather pouch!LOL
    WR.

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    Willem, congrats on your new toy. Do let us know your observations.

    By the way: I can arrange a nice leather pouch for something less than the difference between what you paid and the price of the A-S Cube. Shall we say $975 U.S. ? I'll start on it right away.

    Kidding aside, I do appreciate the sensitivity of this topic. The dearth of accurate information doesn't help the consumer make choices.

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    Re: Save $

    Wow this has been quite the read so far.
    I'm going to take it down a notch
    Airline lost one of my bags with a Gitzo 1228 and Markin M10 in it.
    I had to replace them both, I came across the Photoclam ball heads, and since it was so close to the M10 decided to gamble and try it out.
    short and long of it, the head is identical in feel and use to the markin, but less $
    so I have high hopes for the cube twin...
    I should also say that there was a time when people viewed the Markins as A/S rip-off and now Markins is viewed as a premium company.
    I'm interested to read the user report of the cube twin specially if it could be arranged to have it side by side with the cube.

    am

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