AKTI: Counterfeit Knives Cost $80 Million Per Year

Image courtesy American Knife & Tool Institute

Counterfiet blades like these bogus CRKT M16-14s are nothing new. The ‘Ulfberht’ was a type of pattern-welded Viking sword made from high-carbon crucible steel in the period between 800 and 1100 CE. This steel, probably imported from Asia, was of a purity and quality unknown in Europe before the Industrial Revolution. Unfortunately for their owners, most of them were fakes.

Fake Sharpie Pen, courtesy Wikipedia

Just like the “Shoupie” permanent marker shown here, most Ulfberhts were low-quality knockoffs with misspelled names. Illiterate Vikings may not have been able to spot the typos, but their counterfeit swords were made from European ‘steel’ which was scarcely better than low-carbon iron. Kind of like the $29 Al Mar you saw on eBay last week.

The American Knife & Tool Institute is working to address the problem of knockoff knives, with a June 2nd seminar at the annual Blade show in Atlanta. Even the best bogus Spyderco or Benchmade knives still suck, and the worst of them cause injuries and create expensive customer-service nightmares for the legitimate manufacturers. They cost the industry an estimated $80 million each year in lost profits, brand erosion, and customer service costs.
From the AKTI:

The counterfeiting problem surfaces readily in customer dissatisfaction. Counterfeiters not only duplicate the authentic knives with often inferior workmanship and materials, but also the paperwork and descriptive materials and packaging. When the inferior product fails during use, an unsuspecting customer is likely to send the knife to the manufacturer, expecting that the accompanying warranty will be honored.

“We’ve experienced counterfeits bearing our trade name and trademarks coming into our warranty department,” related Les de Asis of Benchmade Knife Company. “Some were attempts to copy our products. Others bore no resemblance to our genuine products but had our brand name stenciled on them. Bottom line – buyer beware! You deserve to get what you pay for. We pride ourselves in our ability to innovate, satisfy, and take care of our customers’ needs. We share the consumer’s pain when we tell them it’s not a genuine Benchmade.”

Brick-and-mortar retailers aren’t the problem here. Internet sales and auctions are. If you feed your knife jones on eBay or other internet retailers, make sure they’re the real McCoy.



  1. scubamatt says:

    Counterfeiting is rampant in every industry, too. There are estimates that as much as 30% of all automobile parts are counterfeit…the number is higher in the large commercial vehicle sector. I worked for a major trucking company for years, and we twice had to recall every vehicle in the fleet to check for counterfeit brake parts and counterfeit tires. Both groups of parts came through respectable supply sources, they were simply duped farther up the supply chain.

    Counterfeiters are getting smarter, too. It used to be said that if the price was too good to be true, it was a sure sign that you were looking at a knockoff. Now the bad guys simply offer their junk at about 15-25% below average market value and use advertising to claim their low price is because of ‘buying in volume’ or ‘recent purchase of overstock’. You figure you are getting a pretty good deal (but not one ‘too good to be true’) and you end up with junk. These days you have to be sure of what you buy, who you buy it from and who **they** buy from.

  2. Aharon says:

    Prior to placing an online order from a seller (for certain products) I have called manufacturers to confirm that a site was an actual seller of their products ie in the legit distribution channel. Sometimes the manufacturer does not have a direct relationship with a retailer (online or brick and mortar) or know them and I have then had to ask the retailer for the name of the wholesaler or distributer they buy the product from and then call the manufacturer again to confirm that the middleman is legit.

    My new “Panasonic” laptop battery sold by a seemingly legit multi-store retailer is probably legit yet I’m not 100% sure. So far it works fine. I’ve read stories that many computer replacement batteries are fakes.

  3. ChuckN says:

    “Brick-and-mortar retailers aren’t the problem here. Internet sales
    and auctions are.”

    Please be careful how you phrase statements like this. The last thing
    we need is to give the government another excuse to regulate and
    censor the internet (or try anyway).

    I would point out that there are a few fringe benefits to counterfeiting.
    It can help keep prices down. As with many things, the name is part
    of the cost. A $50 knife can become a $500 knife with the right
    markings. If costs get to high, people will opt for cheaper alternatives.
    Counterfeiting also forces manufacturers to keep a close eye on
    quality. If a counterfeit approaches the quality of the original (or
    the original becomes sub-standard) it will severely hurt the brand.
    This is especially true for brands manufactured in part or whole in
    other countries.

    Those counterfeits might also not actually be counterfeits. If the price
    seems to good to be true it could be, or it could simply reflect the
    differences in the monetary exchange rates. A worker could steal a
    few knives (most likely throwaway 2nds or 3rds), sell them for what
    we would consider pennies on the dollar and still make a buck.
    Unethical and probably illegal yes, but price does not necessarily
    indicate a actual counterfeit.

    Regardless it’s always best to abide by caveat emptor.

  4. Gapp says:

    I dont agree with counterfeiting, but to say all fakes suck is just false.
    Ive personally seen replica customs that are almost as good as the real $500-1000+ knives. Theres a replica maker whos name I wont mention but hes known to make just about perfect replicas of customs, costing $100-200 but on par with the real deal.
    That is where I see people really getting scammed, some of these knives are very hard to tell if not impossible, they are titanium, carbon fiber, S35v, D2, VG10, etc…I can only imagine how many people have lost hundreds of dollars thinking they were getting a real high end custom and end up getting a high end replica…still a knife near if not on par with the real deal, but at the end of the day still a $100-200 knife and not the knife they were buying.

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AKTI: Counterfeit Knives Cost $80 Million Per Year

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