*Master Knives* SOCOM rip-off.......

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What is a "rip-off" and what is "homage"? It ain't a simple question.

Bob Loveless is back-ordered for several years with his using-design knives priced into four digits, so he is not losing any money to folks who make very very similar knives with three digit prices, and he's been known to give people tips and tricks for making their Loveless copies closer to the original.

And not every drop point hunter with a hollow ground blade and a tapered tang is a Loveless clone, and I would also say that not every folder with a titanium handle that is also the locking mechanism is a Chris Reeves clone. Nobody is going to mistake a Benchmade Pinnacle or a CRKT S2 for a Sebenza.

Maybe the question is, do they say they are anything they are not, and do they compete in the same market?

If a no-name factory in Hong Kong makes a watch that looks remarkably like a Rolex, but with a two-digit price tag, and does not put the word "Rolex" on the face of the watch, it isn't a counterfeit, and it isn't competition. Likewise, the person who would buy a $200+ Microtech probably isn't interested in a $20 clone, at least not for the same purposes.

On the other hand, where Spyderco sells a lightweight working-class folder for $40-$50 street price, a no-name clone with may well be a threat.

And we can get into endless arguments over what was somebody's original idea that deserves some protection and what wasn't. The knife that inspired this thread says "slavish imitation" all over it, but there have been unending arguments over whether Michael Walker really owns any rights to the liner lock mechanism or the liner lock (2 words, lower case) name, as opposed to the LinerLock(R) trademark.

Well I just happen to be on the receiving end of a cease and desist letter from Spyderco a few years ago concerning the infamous Eagle line of knives. Although they did not have the Spydie hole (as some did) they did have the grip that Spyderco calls a Volcano grip. I had no idea what a Volcano grip was and honored the letter and later found out what a Volcano grip was. I now know what Sal is talking about as we sat down and talked for nearly 2 hours at a recent show in Las Vegas.

What it boils down to is this. Imagine being a knife maker and spending much time & money on developing a line of knives with a unique feature only to have some off shore company rip it off. Well 10 years ago it was not such a problem because the off shore companies could not come anywhere near the quality of a domestic product. The Pakistan knock off of the Buck 110 has been around for years. I don't think Chuck Buck is crying over his beer for that. Now Taiwan and China are producing some really decent crap (Oxymoron). Heck look a Columbia River. Are they not stomping ass right now?

They are not making copies of others knives but they are doing business with the companies that are, and so am I, for that matter. I guess that would make me look bad as well. Kind of like doing business with the devil. The market has forced me to look towards China and Taiwan as I do not have the money to lauch a US manufacturing plant for knives. So they look very appealing, not only to me, but many other comapnies as well.

Also it is easy for Double 8 to buy a US made knife that they know already sells well, send it to Taiwan and have it knocked off. They have the money to do it. They get a guaranteed winner. Does this make them the bad guy? It does in many peoples eyes but what are you going to do? Did you guys know that Double 8 is bigger than Spyderco, Benchmade, Kershaw & Microtech combined?

Sal makes a valid arguement that if the makers keep getting knocked off they will get discouraged and stop new designs. If I was a maker I would do just the opposite and see it as competition and make something that would be so damn hard to knock off it would not be a profitable venture for the Asians to do. Just keep in mind that no matter what design you come out with, if it sells, someone is going to knock it off. So don't get surprised when it happens. The only company I have seen that is very successful at fighting knocks offs is Leatherman. But this does not explain why I see Leatherman knock offs everywhere.

Man is the confusing or what?

Anyone see a knock off of Kershaws Ken Onion Task? Just a thought.

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

I am against knock off knives and would not buy one. But. How many of us are using IBM clones to have this discussion? Or clones of anything else? There is a lock manufacturer called BEST. It was named after the founder. Started in the 1920's. They make IC's (Interchangeable Cores). They are used by many industrial users. Including most phone and utility companies. There are many reputable lock companies making clones. These are so close to the original that ALL parts are interchangeable including springs, pins, keys, etc. If you are honest and look closely, you will be surprised by the amount of clones that you use without thinking. I am not saying I don't do the same. We pick our battles.

"We mock the thing we are to be"-author unknown to me


[This message has been edited by dfhoward (edited 20 March 1999).]
Great input. And it shows why it's such a difficult question. May I throw in some more spice?

In the Knife industry, the pattern part of the design is what ultimately sells the model long term. Spyderco has spent many thousands of hours reworking and refining our patterns. We feel this is important because a knife is an ergonomic thing, like a chair. It is the ergonomics in the pattern of a chair that makes it comfortable or not. Not the same with a Rolex, although maybe similar to a lock mechanism (although from the 20's is diffeent than from the 80's)

Patterns cannot be protected in design patents unless there is a very specific unusual feature like the hole in our blades. We can protect the pattern of the texture, but not the overall pattern of the knife.

You may notice in the marketplace that Spyderco's patterns have been replicated through the entire lightweight line (Endura, Delica, Rescue, Merlin, Dragonfly and Ladybug). By more than one company. They use thumb studs and different textures, but maintain an exact shadow of our patterns. It was our patterns that made them ultimately popular.

I hear argument over price vs value. The "Knock offs" probably wouldn't taste so bad if there was some attempt to reward or recognize the original patterns. You know, help pay for the time and expense to develop the successful pattern to begin with. But patterns in general cannot be protected. Patterns like a tanto blade are not unique enough to patent and overall design patents are expensive to defend.

Also please consider that I am speaking as a manufacturer trying to survive competition of my own designs. I hate to say "make a law" because we have too many laws and if it is not in the heart, you won't find it in the law. But a universal policy (Like Please & Thank you) would be easier to swallow. "Well yes, this is a Spyderco Ladybug pattern and we are going to make a lot of money on this pattern. We should send them .01 cent for every one we sell. That way they will be encouraged to create more successful designs that we can make more money on". Better than having to hire attorneys and spend time and money better used elswhere. Just some additional food for thought.
well...im going to chip in too...the knife blade pictured looks a lot like an emerson/ so did he start the american tanto/flat one site movement....and everyone is copying his design? i like what longbow said....its all been done before.....if you dont think so i cant persuade you...but the liner lock was a 1920 knife with a brass liner.....i dont think people should copy other peoples knives but fact it....theres a reason why a lot of people carry guns....not everyone is honorable...in the late 60s i was in the far east and you could get ANYTHING there...they do not believe in patent rights or copyright laws....same today....like sal said...dont buy the junk....end of story...
Well, I just ordered 2 more of the SOCOM rip-offs (different blade and handle configurations/color) as well as a BM Leopard rip-off by the same company. I don't actually have a Leopard, but I have played with one so I will let you know how it compares, also.

No one provided any insight into my query-
Why would a manufacturer go out of their way to make a product look like something that their target audience is not even familiar with? It just doesn't make sense to me....
All the dealers here keep saying, *The customers who want the quality stuff will know the difference and not buy the knock-offs*. I think you guys are very wrong. The people who know what a SOCOM is, and respect the quality, but can't afford the real thing are the ones that will buy the rip-offs. The average layman, who doesn't know MT from Adam's house cat, will buy the knife because of the price alone. He has never seen a SOCOM. Anyone who knows what a SOCOM is is not going to mistake a rip-off for the real thing....
A lot of the buyers are like me... the in-betweeners, who will buy both. I buy a lot of knock-offs, but I also have quite a collection of originals.
And some of you dealers would be surprised to know how many emails I have received in the last 24 hours asking where I purchased the knock-off from.... I guarantee you these knives will sell.
I know MT was forced to jack up the price due to their low volume. The purchaser should not be punished for the company's short handedness and low volume by being forced to pay an unreasonable price. The bigger companies that can produce high volume (even though it is an inferior product, but not inferior enough to justify the price difference) will ultimately end up making more money from their endeavors. Better to sell 25 knives at $150 than to sell 10 knives at$300.
Tom, I just read your post....
The SOCOM, as well as the rip-off, is not chisel-ground and flat on one side. The blade is more along the lines of the stryker than the Emerson...

A lot of good arguements going around. I posted a thread about this a while, back, and it didn't get anywhere near this interesting.

I agree that the a Double 8 shouldn't be making a profit off MT design, but I also believe in competition. If Double 8 can produce a knife of decent quality for a lower price than nearly all of its competitors, then more power to them. It's unfortunate that companies like MT and BM are victimized by such unfair competition, but it really is unavoidable.

At the same time, not all of the Master series of knives are replicas. I see no problem buying the originals, since they are still of reasonable quality, while being obscenely inexpensive.

Sal, would it be possible to release limited production runs of those knives not worth the patent enforcement price? Understandably, they would go out only to close friends and associates, but it would be a huge loss to the industry for those designs to collect dust in a cellar. I hate to say it, but I'd rather see a cheap ripoff of one of your designs than to miss seeing it at all.

Ted Stewart

I pay 10% more for my knives from a local dealer, than I would online.
I don't/won't buy knockoffs.

It's a function of ethics, for me. I can go into the local store, and handle the knives, ask questions, and enjoy fellowship with another nut. The 10% extra is well worth it to me. I want him to stay in business.

As far as knockoffs go, I believe that knives have an aesthetic value equal to the intrinsic value; in some cases, aesthetics are the only reason I buy a knife. Because it IS artwork, I would rather have the original fired "clay" sculpture than the "play-dough" version.

Would a knife nut buy a knockoff? It depends on why they buy knives. For me, I respect the artist and the artistry, and will continue to support them, as I support my local dealer.
Right on Hipshot! I wish you lived in my area.

This is a great thread. I guess my point is that most of the people who buy these knockoffs wouldn't buy the higher priced ones anyway. (with the possible exception of Orion). These buyers are the bargain hunters and scroungers for the most part that don't even slow down when they pass the quality stuff, so there isn't that much of a threat to the higher end makers and dealers.

Sal, I can understand your frustration though. When you get someone to come up with a great design and go to the trouble to tool up and produce it, or you do so with your own design, and a few weeks later that same shape is on the street for pennies. It's gotta make you crazy. But, as I said above, most of the people who buy those things wouldn't buy your knives anyway, even if there were no other choices. I've been dealing with these folks a street level for too long to believe otherwise. Believe it or not, I do sympathize with you. That is one reason I don't carry knock offs, and the real Knife People won't buy them for the same reason.

The market is funny. I spoke with Ann Reeve about the BM 750 before it was released and she expressed her disappointment that they were coming out. I mentioned that maybe there would be a "reverse effect" with these knives, that they might actually help increase sales of the Sebenza. I admit that it was mostly hopeful thinking on my part, as I am a Chris Reeve dealer, but, to my surprise, my Sebenza sales actually have increased. Now it may be just a blip in the chart 'cause it is too soon after the 750 hit the street to tell for sure, but I know of one case where a buyer took the Sebenza after handling both knives. It may be that he was after the Sebenza all along and just wanted to check out the Pinnacle. The fact is, though, that he did go with the Sebenza. Has the 750 hurt my Chris Reeve sales? Not that I would notice. It may have even helped them.

Look at the Masters of Defense. Everyone is asking why they are such slow sellers. Could it be that Knife Buyers see them as MT Knockoffs? I have had customers say as much to me. I know that they were designed by the same guy who designed the MTs. It doesn't seem to matter. Besides, why is the MOD almost a hundred dollars less than the SOCOM if "the quality is the same", hmmmmm? They still don't sell that great.

By the way, where is Blackjack Knives? Every one would look at them and say "Oh, Randall copies. I'd rather have a real one." Wasn't there an auction awhile back?

Mike, you are right. There is a definite market for those things out there and I say that it isn't a major threat to the high end manufacturers and dealers who remain true to their customers. There just isn't that much crossover.

Strider - Bob, I HAVE had people come to my tables and tell me that the same or similar knife is "over there, cheaper". It happen all the time. They come into the store and say I can get it on the 'net for.... Yeah... It's frustrating, but, you sell yourself before you sell your product. We manage to do alright. And if your's is the best...The REAL buyers will know.

Jeez, this thing has really got me going. Thanks.


Only Sharp Knives are Interesting!

Come to think of it, I'd hate to be mugged for a fake Rolex.

It is possible to make a product that is visibly influenced by an existing design from another source, without making a slavish line by line copy. I'd like to see somebody make a "homage" to the Benchmade Spike, now that Benchmade has discontinued it, but could they please vary the profile a little bit, and not do the same three lengthwise grooves in the handle? I want to be able to tell, from six feet away without wearing my eyeglasses, that it's a different brand.

The Benchmade 750 and the CRKT S2 are not, in my humble opinion, knock-offs. Both of them are clearly, by sight and feel and design philopsophy, not Chris Reeve products.

Last week I got a box of "Y2K/Earthquake" emergency food supplies from Brigade Quartermasters. Interesting, how somebody in the world's largest political prison cast the aluminum scales with a "G10" texture. Ernie Emerson would be amused by its presumption.

I think, for reasons that are not perfectly consistent or logical, that I don't want to be in the business of selling the knock-offs. Or maybe we dealers could make it a custom of the trade to apply some of the vast difference in the price tag between the first-class knives and the knock-offs to voluntar "royalty" payments to the identifiable originators of the designs and to supporting human rights causes as appropriate. That might turn a $10 or $20 clone into a $12 or $24 clone, but that shouldn't be a budget-buster for the customer.

There are many interesting details to this thread, we have had this discussion before.. but I buy the original because it is just that! Knowing I have the real deal is very satisfying to ME. My Socom is without a doubt worth what I paid for it. Why would I buy a knife to put away and not use? Not me. Why would I buy an exact copy of a TAG/ROLEX watch? Not me. The rip off companies don't need to design exact look a likes, they don't have the intelligence to do their own designs..As Sal and Joe said it takes alot of work to design a knife from the ground up. It takes much less work to take a knife apart, spec it and then cad your tooling..This costs less time, money and thinking! On a ripoff knife you don't know what your getting in terms of quality. Looks can be decieving. You don't even know if its AUS8, you don't know what alum. the handle is made of, ect. ect. There are usually US importers behind these rippoffs. If you shop around you can find great discounts on MT Socoms..This China factory could easily produce a knife of their design, but they are afraid it wouldn't sell. CRKT is designing original stuff with better quality and charging higher prices and are becoming successful. I did't read all the replys, but you also get no warranty in most cases. Unless your local dealer will back them? They should if they sell them!
I just can't understand why anyone that knows the difference between a Microtech and a Master copy would want BOTH..Don't buy the real deal just buy the copy...Maybe collectors would do better to collect custom knives, to put away. I think we need to support our companies like MT,SPYDERCO,EDI,BM,BUCK,CAL,ect. These are the companies we love! DON'T BUY COPY JUNK, even if its a hellofa deal. One last comment, I have seen these ripoff knives at swap meets, they aren't even close to MT..And if you can but a knife for $20 bucks,and have a couple people making 20% say, you just bought a knife that must have cost $6.00 or even less, to make!!
Guess the dollar goes along way? Just my opinion and my beliefs.......
Mike - What can you build that would so be so hard to build that no one could duplicate it? How many Picasso's do you think are out here?

RedTwin1 - Wouldn't be worth my time. Tooling costs the same. Might avoid some marketing costs but you go in knowing that it is a short term project. Throw a steak to you dog without saying "no" and see what happens. This means higher prices which means lower sales. Combined with a short life? Why bother?

Mike - Double 8 used to be 7 & 7 and they had another name before that. They didn't start out big. Knock offs are obiously more poritable than originals. That's why copies of paintings are less expensive, but the artists get royalty.

Perhaps I believe that everyone involved in a product from the raw materials to the ELU should rightfully get a piece of the action...that includes the designers. It's always easier to travel if you "hitch a ride". You save on petrol. Hitching a ride without the drivers permission makes you a leach or shark sucker.

As an aside...we've got some very fine minds visiting this site...in my opinion.


I find myself nodding in agreement to almost every post here! I personally would buy a $20 imitation of a great design just to have a knife I could use hard. My collectable/expensive knives will remain protected as long as I have good "users/abusers" in hand.

In the spirit of all who share my opinion, does anyone have a web address of any dealers who carry the Master Knives? All I could find was this homepage: http://masterknives.com/
You can see their knives in many catalogs and sites under different brands names, and sometimes under no name at all. Chances are you seen them a lot already.

[This message has been edited by pk (edited 21 March 1999).]
You know, I am really put off by the elitist attitude of some of the people here. It seems that anyone who would buy the knockoff knowing it is a knockoff instead of the original is low-life, scum-trash.
I don't consider myself either an elitist or the trash. I know a good knife when I see it, regardless of whether it's a ripoff or not. Some of you elitists are actually missing out on a good quality knife for a hell of a price because the knife looks like one of your elitist knives.
Some people even go so far to say that the knock-off companies are unintelligent because they can't design their own knives. Seems to me they are making more money from the knocked off design than the original designer. That's pretty intelligent, even if it is a little under-handed.
For those interested, Master Knives does have a lifetime warranty. And just think, if the knife only costs $6 to make, then how much profit is MT making when they charge $300 for it? Granted, MT's version probably costs about $16 to manufacturer, but it's still an outrageous mark-up.
You are not superior to everyone else just because you can afford the real thing. The lifetime warranty covers anything that is considered normal use. Now, I can buy 12 of these knives for what I can get 1 MT for. If I break 7 of them and Master Knives only replaces 3, then I still have 8 knives left. Under the same conditions, I doubt that the MT could hold up as long as the 12 Master Knives. So, who's intelligent?

Speaking of these companies and warrenties, I'd like to see my S&W swat serviced... does anyone know who i should contact and how?
I must say I agree with you 110% (reguarding ELITIST ATTITUDE ), I might not buy 15 Master Knives perhaps 1 or 2 different models. I'ld buy the one posted in the pic above out of curiousity. I'm still in the progression stage of my knife purchases. I may never get to the point of wanting to spend $200.00 or more for a knife.

TEhy have a couple in the SMKW's Catalog.
I gotta say, I'm 100% with Sal. As for your last point Orion, the question here is not one of "elitism" or "intelligence", but of honor. A person (or in this case, a company) who chooses to act honorably does so regardless of people's opinions or of how much they stand to gain or lose.

I love Benchmade. They make great knives and are a great company to deal with. But I have no problem saying that their Pinnacle is a ripoff of the Sebenza and it's a damn shame that they don't give credit where it's due. Same thing with CRKT's S-2 Frame Lock. At the very least, they should mention that the design of the integral lock originated with Chris Reeve.

These Master Knives are blatant ripoffs. The design is exactly the same as the SOCOM. No permission was obtained from MicroTech and no credit is given to MicroTech from Master Knives. MicroTech is one of the most innovative companies out there. They are not the type of company that turns out hundreds of knives at bargain-basement prices. They are much higher class in terms of design, materials, and quality. For that alone, I'll take the real thing over the knock-off anyday. But I also stand behind MicroTech in this instance because it is the honorable thing to do.


Knife lover, Philosopher, Humanitarian, and All-around nice guy
(all right, so I'm just a knife lover)
Aren't we already committing copyright infringement by continuously referring to the liner lock as the "Liner Lock," instead of the "Walker lock?"
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