May 20, 2015
I have been watching the various copy-cat issues with some interest, as I am also selling KX3 accessories. As I stated on this site and at other times I am a fan of Scott – AK6Q’s SideKX panels and cover. I own and have voiced my appreciation for Rose’s designs and finished cases here as well. My opinion on copy-cat clones: it is unethical to merely copycat what someone else spent a LOT of time and money researching, perfecting, and bringing to market. Ethically it is the equivalent of looking at someone else’s paper while taking a test.
The copy-catter didn’t:
1) Put their own valuable time into analyzing the root problem.
2) Spend time and money trying to design the solution.
3) Spend more time and money making revisions and modifications until they were perfected.
4) Incur financing costs and take risks to purchase materials on speculation (as the creator did since the market was new and unproven for them).
5) Spend money advertising and developing the market.
This gives the copy-catter a huge financial advantage over the original. This unfair advantage is what patents were supposed to protect the original inventor from. To this, some may say: “then if you want protection, get a patent.” To that I would say patents are not applicable to the KX3 accessory market given how small the total market is for the devices, often in the low hundred units. If Scott, Rose or anyone else were to embed the cost of patenting (often >$10,000) and defending the KX3 accessories into the price, not one of us would buy them because the cost would be too high. Even then, foreign clones could be offered ignoring the US patent.
But despite the law not protecting the creator nor punishing the copy-catter in this situation, (and this is my main point): copy-catting is still wrong. The lack of immediate consequence does not make an act ethical or right. Laws are supposed to provide guidance AFTER common-sense intercourse between individuals has broken down, not make a framework defining how one should act. People who need to consult a law book to determine how to act and what is ethical never heard the Golden Rule: don’t do unto others what you would not want done to you. It is that simple.
The issue then comes down to personal ethics. It is much harder to come up with an enhancement, and better version or a new concept than it is to hide in the bushes then clone a thing after someone else does the hard creative part, spends the development money and takes the risk. Supporting a copy-catter by purchasing their products takes money out of the hand of, and disincentivizes those who would bring you these new and improved things, and rewards the uncreative and unethical.
In the case of the copy-cat KX3 side panels they are also inferior, made of softer alloy and with less precision. Also, those who buy those copy-cat side panels will find they will not work with the SideKX cover which is one of the best accessories made for the KX3. Also, the heatsink included with those side panels does not have the ability of reinforcing the SideKX cover.
If one is still OK with buying a copy-cat clone after considering all of this, they at least need to be honest with themselves with the type of people and society they are encouraging, this is how capitalism works; we speak most strongly about the kind of world we want with our money. I strongly believe capitalism only benefits society in general when ethics are integrated into all aspects of doing business.
If you want to respond, please keep it civil.
Howard Hoyt – WA4PSC