Knock Offs Part Two

Oct 2, 1998
I have had an idea for a long time which should address the concerns of those who view knock offs as a bad thing. The way they are being handled now is a bad thing and like it or not they will be around for a long time. Here are some of the problems and why knock offs are so prevalent.

1) The makers can not afford to patent each and every design they make. It adds to the cost and they simply cannot afford it or raise the price on their knives. Plus it does not offer them much protection anyway.
2) Manufacturers have nearly the same problem. Unless the knife uses something very new and specific to them it is not worth the extra money to patent it or the design.
3) Even when a patent is issued this does not stop the companies from making knock offs. The reason is that it is very costly to go after them and the result is not worth the effort or the money put into it.

So how can we overcome each of these problems?

I had planned to wait till the Blade Show to reveal this but due to the earlier thread on Dragon Forge I feel forced to bring it out. This is one of the subjects I was going to bring up to Sal and Les De Asis and a whole bunch of custom makers.

The reason a custom maker makes knives is not because he loves it. Although they may love making knives the reason is to put food on the table. Bottom line MONEY!

So when they see these knock offs coming in from China and Taiwan they see red and for very good reason. Again that reason is MONEY! Now we could argue that a custom maker is more mad that they had their product knocked off all day but the real issue is that it was done without their permission and they are not making any money off of it, someone else is. I could be wrong but I doubt it.

Knock offs are going to be here regardless if a maker likes it or not. So what should be done, is someone take the initiative to show there is a better way to handle it.

Enter Dragon Forge........
I would like to bring these knives in and get them out to the public in such a way that promotes the original designer or custom maker.

How can I do that you say?

Pretty simple actually.
Each knife which comes in will be boxed with information about the original designer or custom maker including address, web site and any other information the maker wants, even a small catalog. This will help promote his actual business. Gil Hibben does this with each United product sold and he makes out just fine.

A percentage of the sale of each knife will go directly to the maker each month. This is called a royalty.

That's really about it.

Now you could say that if a maker wants his knives made in Taiwan he should go to the Taiwan companies and have them do it. The problem there is compounded many times over.
1) First, most, if not nearly all, knife makers have no idea how to contact these companies. Even large companies have problems doing this as evidenced by Berretta asking for help.
2) The maker would have to pay the tooling costs. Big money here folks.
3) The maker would have to find an importer or broker or do it himself. Not easy and not fun at all.
4) The maker would then have to promote the knives through various means of marketing. This is very costly and time consuming.

The reasons above are exactly why it is not being done already.

What is being done is that manufacturers are contacting custom knife makers to get their designs made overseas. United Cutlery is pretty much credited for pioneering this area many years ago with it's line of Hibben knives. Gil is a personal friend of mine and he has no regrets believe me. Other manufacturers are now doing very much the same thing. Columbia River, OutDoor Edge and others are doing it right now with many more in the works. So we know the idea works.

How many of you have a KISS knife designed by Ed Halligan or a Mirage designed by BF Member Jim Hammond?
Columbia River is exploiting this new market heavily and they are making good money doing so and so will the custom knife makers who sign up. Resident member Kit Carson will have a knife coming out of CRKT and OutDoor Edge and Darryl Ralph has one coming out of OutDoor Edge soon as well.

So we know the theory works.
Now what to do about all those damn knock offs! Well my idea outlined above might just be the ticket. I will approach various makers and see the response. They may very well tell me to go fly a kite or they may see it as an opportunity to make some money off the knock offs.

Now here is a problem with my solution that needs to be addressed before anyone brings it up.
Much of getting a custom makers knife made overseas is having the ability to control quality. This way the knife is made to the very specs the maker wants. Sometimes this makes the cost of the knife go up but overall it can be controlled without too much problem. Where Dragon Forge comes in is that each knife which the company in Taiwan makes will be sent to the maker for review. Obviously the knife will not be anywhere near the quality of a handmade knife but the price point prohibits that level of quality. A maker understands this. The maker would have final right of refusal and the item would not appear in the DF custom series line. If the knife gets the blessing of the maker he gets his royalties and does not have to invest a dime in any part of the program. Not even a prototype is necessary.

Of course all the above could be the most outlandish piece of crap garbage news you have ever heard or you could look at it from an objective point of view and see that it could possibly work.

I don't know and wont know until Blade Show.

Dragon Forge will continue to bring in knives regardless of the outcome. The only thing that will change is which particular knives are brought in. For the record not all DF knives are knock offs. Also if a manufacturer discontinues a knife I consider it fair game. The butterfly falls into this category.

The only way this will work is if the makers go for it. If they don't Dragon Forge will fall back to only the items which are not knock offs.

Of course this brings up another question. Why not ask permission right now before selling them? The reason is that I need to have a track record of sales between now and the Blade Show. It is hard to show if a product is viable if you have no sales figures to back it up. A check will be cut to each maker before the show and it will be presented to them to show what extra money they could be taking in from the knock offs.

I really hope this plan flies as it would be a proactive way to alleviate a touchy problem.

Best Regards,
Mike Turber
BladeForums Site Owner and Administrator
Do it! Do it right! Do it right NOW!


As I have previously stated in the other thread that I don't have any problems with knock-offs as the way to make money in this world is through free enterprise,I DO feel that this COULD Be a way to alleviate some hostility from knife makers.

Note that I said COULD BE....My question is as follows: What if other importers (one large one specifically) do not want to go along with this? Wouldn't this leave Dragon Forge alone in this endeavor?

From my point of view, if an importer had to pay royalties to all the knife makers whose designs were copied,wouldn't that in turn raise the prices of those knives, thereby not making them such good deals anymore.
OR if they didn't raise their cost to dealers and absorbed the cost,it would cut down on their profit(not likely to be this scenario).

As far as the "Final right of Refusal", Why would a Taiwan tooling company go through the expense of setting up the dies and doing the work involved in making the knife,just to have a maker say he didn't like this or he didn't like that, and then having to start all over.

Also, I don't know how many different companies in Taiwan or China or wherever are set up to make knives, but what if just one of them didn't go along with the idea and continued to do business as usual.Wouldn't this undermine the whole theory?

I think that your idea of putting a little flyer about the original maker is an EXCELLENT idea and could potentially bring him some business if the buyer likes the design enough and wants to step up to the "REAL" thing.

I for one think that even if your overall idea doesn't fly,that it would be most respectful and honest of you to go ahead with your idea about giving the makers acknowledgement they deserve by putting a little flyer in with your knives even if others don't.

These are just my thoughts and anyone feel free to comment on any of them.

I like your idea Mike. It feels right to me, not just logically, but gutwise.

The knock offs of somewhat lesser, but still decent using, quality promoting the real higher quality items and providing recognition and monetary compensation at the same time to the original creator! Of course there will be some who don't like the idea - you never get complete consensus on even the best of ideas.

This is like free marketing while providing royalty moneys at the same time. I'm sure you've calculated the margins and found they support this idea quite well.

It may not be genius, but it sure seems like a good practical idea to me. Sometimes the real genius is in the practicality of the idea. Hope it works for you in a big way.
Regardless if the other importers or Taiwan manufacturers do the right thing makes no difference to me. What will make a difference is that a brand "Dragon Forge" will get recognized as an OK company and all the others will not. Dragon Forge is here to stay. The custom knock offs are the only variable. I am not sure how the custom knife makers will respond to this but I will know come the Blade Show. Heck they may hate me for even thinking about it.

Best Regards,
Mike Turber
BladeForums Site Owner and Administrator
Do it! Do it right! Do it right NOW!

If you can't beat them. Join them as the saying goes. I will say I would be shocked if others follow. Lets be honest here.
They are making money off the makers designs and are not paying them a dime in most cases. Now if you were them. Would you? Lets be honest. What Mike is offering is something that should not be passed up by a maker. Lets face it. If you have rep and a great design. There will be knock off's. So why not except that simple fact and make some money on the deal? Frankly I suspect that this is an excellent idea for the maker as well as for Mikes' new company. Seems like the way to go in IMO. Time will tell no doubt.


Tom Carey

My new web site is up.
Please check it out. :)
Mike - you may recall that I added my less than .02 to this the first time it came up, so I guess it's okay to do it again. I'm not sure I totally understand what you're proposing, but the principle appears sound. My suggestion at that time was that the knock offs had to be beaten in the market place. If DF can benefit, that is profit from the arrangement; if the product is a faithful execution of the designer's creation, albeit at lower grade, meaning it it does not have to be cheap crap; and if the designer receives some compensation (currently they're getting nothing), then the last question rests with the market itself. If enough units are sold to provide an acceptable return to the manufacturer, then the deal works. It would be a great thing for both designers and consumers if it does, provided the designers can stomach a lower grade execution of their designs.

Jack < .02
Making a product involves two elementary steps. First you think out what to produce, than you or someone else can manufacture and/or distribute it. That is not only valid for material things like knives but also for immaterial products like software. Coming up with “the idea” involves a creative, educated brain and - depending on the product - often high costs for research and development. These might be low in case of a knife, but it often takes years of redoing and improving to come up with the right design and materials. A product is therefore much more than the sum of its material components. It is a combination of intellectual and mechanical/manual work. As such, the money you are spending for it is not only for the material but in different degrees for the intellectual part. Products like software are mostly intellectual in nature and nobody argues with the fact, that the programmer should be compensated for the work he contributed to the final product. One step above that are services. Lawyers don’t get the big bucks because they sell printed paper, but because of the intellectual work manifested in those papers. Again, nobody argues with the fact that they deserve what they earn (well, some don’t deserve it…). And even Dick Marcinko doesn’t have to kill bad guys anymore because his books are selling very well.

By now, my point should be clear. A custom maker doesn’t get his money solely for the pieces of titanium and steel he combines with his craftsmanship, but for the working knife. Some knives are better than others because their design and materials are well thought out. This is a result of the intellectual work of the knife maker. He gets rewarded for this work by selling more knives or selling them for higher prices than other makers.

If the maker is able to incorporate many innovations into his knives, he and his products can become very popular. He could sell more than he can make by himself. In this case he can start his own company based on his outstanding ideas (i.e. Chris Reeve, Ernest Emerson) or find other companies to produce his designs under his license (i.e. Elishewitz for Benchmade, Viele for Spyderco, Halligan for CRKT, Carson for Buck). In both cases he is benefiting from his ideas by selling his intellectual property. This is the basis of capitalism, you get rewarded for your own hard work and ideas. This motivates people and ensures that they will come up with new innovations.

Now there are people who don’t want to work hard or have brilliant ideas. Nothing wrong with that (I’m one of them…). But there is a small group who wants to benefit from the work and ideas of others. All they want is making a quick buck. In the modern world, copying is easy and almost everyone uses software he/she hasn’t paid for, just to name one example. Theft of intellectual property is not only tolerated but widely accepted. Shoplifting has a higher stigma than putting a piece of paper on a copy machine or sticking a floppy into a computer. And even here in the forum the posters not only state that knock offs are ok, but that they actually promote business and have a beneficial effect.

Well, that’s as wrong as it can be. Copying something without the permission of the owner of the intellectual property is theft. It’s that clear and simple. Easy to understand for software, books and music, but somehow difficult when it comes to designs. Each time theft occurs, the market mechanisms are disturbed. It avoids competition and therefore the pressure for innovation and creativity. Not the hard working person with talent gets rewarded, but the ideas stealing criminal. The degrees are of course different, it goes from the onetime act to big names like Microsoft vs. Netscape.

Now I’m not blaming anybody and I’m not calling names. What I noticed was, that there are popular designs being copied without the permission of the creator. I just explained how I would call that. It is a very good thing to produce popular designs for a fair price so that many people can afford a good knife. It is also good to promote the original designer. But harvesting the fruits of other peoples work is not my idea of fair competition, no matter what kind of arguments are used to justify it.


The simple point of what I am trying to do is this.

If this was a perfect world we would not even be discussing this. Your thoughts are well taken and understood. No matter how you slice it a knock off is theft to one degree or another. The problem is there is not really anything you can do about it so you may as well try to gain something from it and maybe good will come out of it.

We used to punish those who took drugs by spending huge amounts of money on rehabs that don't work. We found ourselves actually in the end spending more money trying to help them and because of their drug problems they created more problem by sharing needles and such. Now we just give out clean needles.

Is this to say my plan will work? No it is just to say it is another way to go after a problem which will not ever go away no matter what we do. So in the end the makers who intellectual property rights are violoated are at least being compensated.

Best Regards,
Mike Turber
BladeForums Site Owner and Administrator
Do it! Do it right! Do it right NOW!

You stated that it's wrong to profit from a maker's efforts without that maker's permission or his receiving any recompense for his intellectual efforts.
I agree 100 percent.

Now I don't want to do Mike's talking for him, and he sure doesn't need me to, but I think that's exactly the problem he's trying to fix!
I went to a website today that sells "knock offs" and let me tell you, that's not what WOW is doing. At least I can see a difference!
This other website made sure to prominently mention the names of the makers whose designs are being copied and if you don't read it carefully, you will come away with the strong impression that this is being done either BY the makers, or with their willing participation. I know this is not true, but others might not.
THAT'S the knockoff/ripoff that we should be raising hell about. It's also what Mike's idea would possibly either slow, or stop all together! The website I'm talking about is These people are shameless!

Dang! Mike posted while I was writing this.
"Yeah! What Mike said!"

I cut it, and I cut it, and it's STILL too short!

Wouldn't it be cool if the makers took the money they received from Mike's plan and pooled it to sue the knockoff distributors who refused to acknowledge the debt owed to the original maker/designer?

That would be JUSTICE!

I cut it, and I cut it, and it's STILL too short!


I talked to Pat Crawford a few hours ago and he is all for the idea. Infact it sounded like one of the best ideas he has heard in a long time. So with that in mind I am going FULL throttle with this idea. I really don't care if the other importers do the same as I doubt any will. All I know as that the Dragon Forge name will be an honorable one amongst importers in the minds of custom makers.

It is really just another way to attack a problem from a point of view that has never been tried. The "if you can't beat join 'em" anology, although crude, is about right.

So here is how I will do this project. I will specifically look for knock offs made in Taiwan, not China because the quality just is not there, YET. Then I will forward the knife along with my idea to the custom maker who's design is being copied. If they agree to let Dragon Forge market it then it will go under our lable and they will get their royalties and a contact sheet in each box telling about the maker and where to find the "REAL THING".

Simple, no contracts, no exclusives nothing but just a good 'ol way of doing business.

So if you see a maker who is selling the knock offs and they ARE NOT DRAGON FORGE you may want to tell them about us and our new way of doing business. They may pay a few bucks more but they will get a lifetime warranty and they will know the maker is getting compensated.

I will officially launch the idea and Dragon Forge at the Blade Show in Booth #85. Look for us and ads in Tactical Knives and Blade Magazine and possibly Knives Illustrated.

Best Regards,
Mike Turber
BladeForums Site Owner and Administrator
Do it! Do it right! Do it right NOW!


It may be in your best interest to call and talk to me before you attack my integrity. You don't know me, obviously, nor did you have any clue of what my intentions are with Dragon Forge. If I wanted to hide behind a facade I would do so. If you have visited Dragon Forge's web site you would notice my name is clearly shown on the front page. The internet is a huge and easy place to hide in yet I choose to do everything I do right out in the open.

I made the original post in this thread before you went over to Mad Dog's forum to "spread the word". Before you take on this one man crusade you may want to wait and see what the makers themselves have to say about it before you go off on a rant.

I have come up with a new and unique way to attack a problem that has NEVER been tried before.

Now let me give you a little incite into the history behind this.
Two years ago I talked to Pat Crawford at his table at the Blade Show about this very subject. He saw the trend that was going on and wanted to have some of his designs made in Taiwan. I told him that I was working on an idea and had not gotten it to a launch position yet but I wanted to know which custom makers were interested. There were MANY and he was just one. He was very interested but due to his contract with Benchmade he was not sure how to proceed. We felt it was best to let it go and table it for awhile.

At last years Blade Show we talked again. I had not gotten much closer to launching the idea yet but I knew United Cutlery was looking for another custom maker and I introduced Pat to David Hall of United. United's plans did not come through or have at least not as yet. And I don't think Pat wants to enter into another contract. His contract with Benchmade is over and as you all already know, and as I predicted over a year ago on Benchmade's forum, the Leopard series is history. Pat very smartly does not want to put all his eggs into one basket anymore for good reason.

Why limit your income?

So here comes Mike again! This time with a really cool new plan which requires no paper work or anything. Pat will just get a check each month for as long as Dragon Forge carries knives influenced by his designs. Yes that is a fancy way of saying KNOCK OFFS, deal with it. No matter what he does, if a knock off ever comes down the pike, and DF carries it, he will reap at least some of the rewards. Also we will put a flyer in each box telling about the makers with their contact info. Who knows someone may by the knock and sometime down the road they may want the "real thing"! That may be hard to beleive but I started WOW with one table at a flea market and I used to wear fake Tag Heuer watchs, now I wear the "REAL THING".

All of this will and is being done with each makers permission.

So far the only Knock off we have is the Lynx. The Sensei has a blade who's design is obviously influenced by Allen Elishewitz who BTW is a friend of mine and if he wants a royalty for this knife he will get it to. BTW and FYI I was the one who introduced Allen to Benchmade and if it were not for me he may very well not have the contract with them. Contrary to what the web site says, that Benchmade contacted him, I was talking with Allen and the subject came up about the custom designers that make designs for Benchmade at the Blade Show 3 years ago. Allen asked me, since he knew I knew the folks at Benchmade how they do that. I told him to grab a few knives and walk with me. We went straight over to Benchmade and I introduced him to Sam Elliot, who at the time was the second in command. The rest is history!

Now I will send Allen one of the knives and see what he thinks about my idea and I will let you know. In fact will call him tomorrow and let you know.

Now for the Benchamde butterfly knock offs. Well Benchamde discontinued them and I am not representing them as Benchmade's so they are fair game, simple as that.

I hope this answers the questions you have about Dragon Forge and I hope you also state this on the new thread you started over at Mad Dogs forum since I obviously can not post there. Seems funny to me that a new thread is started elsewhere, which names me personally, when it is clear I have no way to respond.

Maybe someone can copy this and post it for me?

For the record anyone from KnifeForums can post here and I do mean anyone and most do.

Best Regards,
Mike Turber
BladeForums Site Owner and Administrator
Do it! Do it right! Do it right NOW!

I was really glad to see your comment about theTaiwan knock offs being ok, but not the Chinese ones - yet. That fits my observations to date. I hope the Chinese knock offs improve to the point of accetability (nothing like good old competition).

I think you've got a good shot at making this go. Good luck!
Mike, I've been following the threads for quite some time, and frankly, I don't really know what the big deal is with regards to DF and your honest to goodness intentions, which, up to now, seems to be misunderstood.

But I'm sure there are a lot of people who DO understand your plans and your visions, and are willing to back you up on it.

I guess the discussion is moot. Like Doubting Thomas, one has to see proof, and if all goes well, the fruits of your labor won't be in vain, I'm sure of it.

You're doing this for the benefit of those designers who, until you came along, wouldn't even dream of benefiting from copies of their hard work (stolen or otherwise). You're going to make it work, so JUST DO IT. Let doubters stay as doubters, this is where the end WILL justify the means.


PS. I just signed up with the other site to post your notes on their end. Just making sure both sides of the coin are shown.
I may get roasted or boiled for this, but who cares?
Thanks for all the support shown here.

Doing this is like showing my cards before the game is played. I planned on launching this at the Blade Show but now that the word is out I guess I may as well start now huh.

I have several knives ready to go and the two above by Pat Crawford and Allen Elishewitz are all systems go.

Just talked to Allen about an hour of so ago and he likes the idea as well. I believe that most makers will go for this rather awkward approach to this problem. Those who do not like the idea will simply not have their knock offs come through DF. Simple plan.

Best Regards,
Mike Turber
BladeForums Site Owner and Administrator
Do it! Do it right! Do it right NOW!

This all sounds like a great idea. If I was a consumer I would surely buy the "knock offs" from the manufacturers (Dragon Forge) that acknowlege where the design comes from, and not buy from those that just steal the design. And like you say, the maker makes a few bucks with no paperwork or worries and also gets a lot of exposure. Works for me, not that I have any designs that are being manufactured..........just sounds fair.

Mike... GO FOR IT.

And nope, it's not an awkward approach, not by a long shot. As Rob said, the makers get the extra few bucks w/ no hassles whatsoever, plus the fact that they get the added exposure. Royalties and Free Ads, what more could we ask for? <grin>

Wishing you the BEST in this endeavor! I hope to see more dealers carrying Dragon Forge knives soon!


Another thread asks how we found Bladeforums.
I started in "interknife" right at the time
Benchmade just ruined Christmas and rec dot
was white hot.I thought to myself that Benchmade was doing you the biggest favor
of your life , Mike .Turned out to be true
I would say . You have grown several magnitudes since then and the end is not in
sight.Well done !