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.
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.