TROUTMAN, NC, 06/26/2020 – BISS Product Development is a small product development company based in Troutman, NC. They focus all of their energy on designing and developing their own product ideas from the ground up. Their goal is to create innovative, patented, problem solving consumer products, and launch them under their two brands, STKR Concepts and Risk Racing.
STKR Concepts has designed several successful, patented, and award-winning products, and even invented new product segments that never existed before. However, they are constantly plagued by much cheaper copies shipping out of China. These copies ruin the market, make the originators noncompetitive, and threaten US jobs.
This has been a hot topic nationally considering the issues the USA has had with intellectual property theft out of China. President Trump has been making efforts to combat this through the current tariff war, but it is local companies like BISS Product Development, that are suffering and unable to compete. Even in markets that they create!
Many people think that the tariff battle with China exists to bring low-end manufacturing jobs back to the USA. That isn’t the case. Those low-end manufacturing jobs will simply move to another low-cost country, such as Vietnam or South Korea. However, the Tariff war will hopefully allow more USA made products into China, bolstering important US industries where USA can manufacture, like the automotive industry. This is a good plan, but the fact is, the manufacturing of many inexpensive, mass market, consumer products may never come back to the USA. USA factories, and the cost of a US workforce, simply can’t produce inexpensive consumer products for the retail prices and profit margins that national retailers demand. More importantly, even if they did, Chinese factories would produce cheaper copies and offer them to the major USA retailers. Unfortunately, those retailers will almost always select the cheaper Chinese copy. That is the real reason why Chinese Copy products prevail in the US market.
Until the powerful USA based retailers support the inventive USA based companies that push new product design and innovation, these small companies will never succeed against copy product.
STKR Concepts has had several of their products knocked off by copy factories and sold in national retailers. This is after STKR Concepts pitched the buyers at all of these retailers. The buying teams, knowing full well who invented and designed the product, welcome copy factories to produce and sell the products to them cheaper. It is easy for these factories to undercut the price because they have no product development costs, no patents costs, they don’t follow the same safety regulations, and they have a 100% Chinese based workforce.
Companies like STKR Concepts do manufacture their products overseas. It is their only option to even exist as a company in the industries they sell into. However, as stated above, they do all their own creative work including, product design, graphic design, marketing, video production, sales, account management, distribution, etc., in house right here in Troutman NC. As a result, they employ a talented team of US workers to do the highest paying jobs involved in a product development and distribution cycle.
So, in today’s world where most consumer products are made overseas, the question is not which companies produce in the USA, but which companies drive the innovation that supports and create the higher-level jobs in the USA? Who employs the local talent? How do they protect their designs and business? Most importantly, who supports those efforts to enable those “USA job” creating companies to survive?
Naturally, many people believe that patents are there to protect these companies and designs. That is a whole other topic, but the short answer is that it is not illegal to copy a patent, and it is very expensive and near impossible to chase down a Chinese factory and drag them through a legal battle.
STKR has invested a lot of money into patents, and owns a great deal of them, but still struggle to enforce any. In fact, they even tried to protect their USA and European distribution by getting Chinese patents to better enforce copies at the Chinese port. Their investment was wasted as the Chinese government issued the copy factories identical patents! This was the case with STKR Concepts most recent product success called, The TRiLIGHT. The TRiLIGHT is also a perfect example of national retailers making a conscious decision to support the copy factories.
The TRiLIGHTis a garage ceiling light that was originally launched through a successful Kickstarter campaign (a breeding ground for Chinese copy factories). STKR Concepts was then asked by Amazon to distribute their product with them via their “Launchpad” program. This was also very successful, until the copies hit the market. Copies soon flooded Amazon boasting unreal product performance specifications at a ¼ of the price, with no safety certifications. Not only did they steal the product design, but they stole the packaging design, marketing messages, images, demo videos, etc. They even used videos of STKR Concepts owner’s wife and kids in their marketing message. Finally, their instructions left no contact info for people to claim their warranty, only the STKR logo, leaving unhappy customers calling STKR Concepts for refunds.
Soon, these copies hit the shelves at the national retailers stealing more business away from STKR Concepts and ruining the product value. Several national retailers all passed on the original offer from STKR Concepts (despite being a current vendor with most) and opted to support the copy factories. North Carolina based Lowes Home Improvement was the only national retailer to show integrity and stick with STKR Concepts, but the sale of the copy product by their competitors has drastically hurt sell through at Lowes.
This is only one example where cheap copy factories have ruined the distribution of a small USA based company. We can’t control China. However, if these copy factories don’t get retail support, they can’t succeed. On the same note, even if USA consumers would like to support the USA based companies, these original products must be available. If national retailers only choose to support copy factories, then USA based consumers have no other option. Additionally, if these retailers keep supporting copy factories instead of the innovators, all that we will be left with will be old copy products and no new designs and solutions. It is up to major retailers to choose moral and ethical high ground over profit margins and make the choice to support the originators and not the copies. National retailers hold the surefire solution to intellectual property theft and copy control in the USA.
To see more about the copies of the TRILIGHT you can click this link which shows the copies, the packaging, the unsafe PC boards and wiring, the stolen marketing assets, etc.:
The first copies were actually being distributed to Amazon through a Chinese warehouse based in Charlotte, NC. A company that was welcomed by the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce.
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