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jay leslie
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From Jay Leslie. Usually knock-offs have small glitches. Here is how it works in two ways.

1. A US product is bought from a third party then sent to China where it is reverse engineered. Usually the knocknoff has a small defect either in how the product is made (bad wood, not square, parts don’t fit, paint thin, rough edges etc.). But the price is much less and many magicians say “This is just a hobby, This is good enough for me, and here is the worst philosophy ever: I know how it works -,and I could make it myself -If I had the tools I could make it SO it’s not worth the asking price.,. Since I could make it myself, if I could”. The product is knocked-off and cheap magicians buy it because of price.

2. (I’ve had this happen to myself)
I knew a Chinese family who had connections to get things made in China. The wife explained how the Chinese economy works.

(Note: First you should understand the Chinese believe that to copy someone is to respect them. Its like learning to play Tchaikovsky, the better you play the song the better a musician you are. (Makes sence, right?) Now that you understand their philosophy I can tell you exactly how this 2nd method works.

The connection said “China is based on manufacturing zones. One town is a television town, one is a scooter town and another makes gym equipment. Let’s look at the scooter town.

In the scooter town someone invents a Razor (for example - those scooters with little wheels and a upright handle bar). So the inventor made a few samples and probably used brokers at product shows in Beijing (as an example) to find retailers around the world. The Razor Scooters took off. After a while the people working at the company had access to suppliers, what machines to use, the processes needed and all the buyers.

Now this is important: in China there are no anti-competition laws, anyone can copy anyone (and for a communist country that’s about the most republican attitude anyone could have). So there is no law that stops people from taking ideas and producing them (Exceptions include advanced technological products and expensive products that have too many processes to make it easy to reproduce). That said, what happens is: The workers at the Razor factory decide they can make more money if they cut out the owner. So they go to the government for a loan. If the government decides that the market is strong enough to support another shop they will appoint someone to buy the equipment and rent the building until the workers can turn a profit. If the workers choose to, they can move across the street of the original manufacturing facility and there is nothing the original inventor can do about it. The Chinese believe that more people working is better for the economy then to honor the originator, and all the time it took to design how something is made.

So the workers start a new company and the government is happy, the workers have higher wages, and so it goes until the market is saturated with Razors and they need to start making other products.

Now, my connection said “In some cases the town is close to a railroad station buy in another she said she had to take a train, go as far as they can, rent a car snd drive it as close to the town they want to get to, then use a donky drawn wagon to go the last distance. Believe it or not, the products are shipped out in the reverse order starting with the donky carts.

In addition, if you send a sample of a product the manufacturer wants to know what it so they can knock it off.

For example, I sent one cup from an old Indian Cups and Balls set. This item was hand delivered to a cousin of my connection. At 3am, my phone rings and the cousin says “I have this sample from my cousin, we have to make 5,000 minimum. Whst does it do?” I said “Its just a cup, it doesn’t do anything”. He persisted “How does it work, I need to know how it works”. Me “it’s just a cup it doesn’t do anything, can you make them?”. He insisted I tell him what it does and how it works.

This conversation went on for about 4 minutes. Finally he said “If cant tell me what it does then I can’t mske them”. I asked him to give it back to his cousin and he said “No, it’s no good, I need to know what it does befote I can make it. Me “I cant tell you what it does, it’s just a cup”. And he finally told me that the cup was a waste of time and he threw it in the trash asking if I heard it go. I said “Yes”, and he hung up on me.

The only reason he wanted to know what it did was do he could charge me X amount of dollars then Knock-it off and undercut my price.

And that’s why China copies things without permission. It’s like that classic movie “Badges, we don’t need no stinking badges”.
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Profile of goodingda
Jay, thanks for posting this. I'm a new user and nobody has weighed in, so I will. I've traveled to China for years and everything you say is right on target.

What concerns me most is when I see a unique magic prop being ripped-off. I'm not talking public domain items such as die boxes, silk cylinders, dove pans, etc. I'm talking about a unique item that an American builder has spent a lot of time and money developing and bringing to the market. When someone buys the knock-off, instead of the real thing, they are affecting someone's livelihood. I wish everyone understood this.
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