Joby Laid the Smackdown on GorillaPod Counterfeiters During Photokina

Joby sent out a press release today warning consumers that there are counterfeit versions of its popular GorillaPod flexible tripod floating around in the wild. While that isn’t too newsworthy in itself — what gear isn’t being counterfeited these days? — it’s the juicy details surrounding the release that are quite interesting. Apparently the company directly confronted companies involved in making imitations during Photokina 2012 in Cologne, Germany last month.

After Joby employees discovered fake products being displayed at “the booths of two Far-East based manufacturers,” they summoned Photokina organizers and security personnel and had the counterfeit goods removed from the show and confiscated. The faux-rillaPods got thrown into cardboard boxes and carried away:

Joby marketing director Laura Kawakami states,

Since the original GorillaPod was launched, we have always taken a strong stance with manufacturers and distributors of products that infringe on our design patents – we will always take action to close down such activity! The quality of these products is poor and ultimately it is the consumer who suffers when they buy a product that does not deliver the function and reliability of a genuine JOBY product.

Joby’s warning is a wise one to heed; GorillaPod variants are often used to fix cameras in precarious locations. Having the tripod fail in those situations could be quite bad for the health of the cameras.

(via Photo Answers)

P.S. Canon and Nikon accessories are widely counterfeited, but we haven’t heard of any cases yet of those companies laying smackdown at trade shows.

Image credits: Photographs by Joby

  • Mansgame

    Right….he’s concerned about our gear and not making money off overpriced doo-hickeys’ that he sells. It’s a tripod. It’s something that holds something else.

  • brob

    I highly doubt what they did there was legal. They may hold the patent and rights, but there is proper legal channels that need to be followed isn’t there?

  • BDeKid

    There was at least 4 – 5 diffrent Products wich looked like a GorillaPod to me , so I can understand the Point of taking care about it

  • Dylan Bennett

    You’re darn tootin’ he’s concerned about the doohickeys he sells. If I were in his shoes, I’d be concerned with other knock-offs causing brand dilution, which leads to a loss of trademark.

    It also leads to the GorillaPod brand getting a bad name through the proliferation of knock-offs. “Oh yeah, I had one of those GorillaPod things. They’re terrible. Dropped right off the tree and my camera smashed to the ground.”

    So yeah, of course he’s concerned about knock-offs.

  • Michael Lieberman

    How is contacting the organizers of the event and having them take care of it not legal? Those who were selling counterfeit goods were most likely breaking the terms of their agreement with the Photokina organizers.

  • fuzzywuzzy

    Um … as long as they weren’t actually calling themselves “GorillaPods” and made it apparent that they were knockoffs … what’s the problem?

    Nothing is revolutionary about the GorillaPod. Yes, it’s nifty, but it’s just a series of friction mounted plastic and rubber. Most patents are issued for no reason other than because the patent office is corrupt.

    If Joby actually have a difficult-to-create product, cheap copies will actually help them when customers realize the knockoffs just don’t work properly and buy the real thing instead.

    If the product is that easy to copy, then it’s just not that special.

  • jdm8

    Violating trademarks and patents is not something to be shrugged off.

  • pete n pete

    Love it!

  • sierrarobba

    Nice!A down the earth company.

  • Marvin Bowen

    Same could be said about a photograph. “All you did was push a button”. Poor reasoning here, friend.

  • Andrew Doran

    While the knock offs might be infringing on IP rights, it certainly could not have been legal for the organizers to “Confiscate” real property owned by the exhibitors. If Joby wants to confront imitators, they should do it in court (or at the headquarters of the imitators)! Laying the smackdown on the 2-3 low level sales putzes that had to work the trade show booth is not really the right way to go about it.

  • Samuel

    Its not Photokina’s job to enforce patent laws, yes they may have been selling imitation products but you can’t go around enforcing laws yourself, thats what courts are for.

  • John Kantor

    You can’t just grab someone’s products and cart them away. If you think they are infringing your design, you have to sue.

  • Ano

    True but any number of people can snap the same photo over and over without infringing on anyone’s rights. You’re argument isn’t ironclad either.

  • TextuallyActive

    I really liked Joby products but, they only carry a one year warranty. I had an issue just after the 12 month mark and they refused to swap out a Gorilla torchlight for me even though it was their cheap Chinese knockoff batteries that caused the problem. I sucks because I wanted to buy a ballhead and slrzoom from them but it’s hard to support a company that doesn’t take care of their customers.