Camera bag manufacturer, Peak Design, has brought attention to behemoth multinational corporation, Amazon, copying one of its products and undercutting it with the cheap and nasty version under the Amazon Basics label.
Rather than challenging the 800-pound gorilla in court with an IP lawsuit, Peak Design made a humorous video pointing out how ludicrous it is that Amazon copied its Everyday Sling bag.’
‘Amazon putting the little trapezoidal patch on their bag to mimic our label is both the highest compliment, and a slap in the face,’ Peak Design CEO, Peter Dering, told Petapixel. ‘It deserves something in return, and if that is something we could create to spark additional joy in our lives? In our customer’s lives? Then hell yes. Let the cameras roll.’
Peak Design’s Everyday Sling bag costs US$80 on Amazon, whereas the Amazon Basics Everyday Sling bag – yep, they even copied the name – costs US$21.
‘I’d like to think that the purchaser of a Peak Design bag over the Amazon Basics bag indicates caring at a deeper level,’ Dering said. ‘It might be caring for the environmental journey that we are on. It might be the little bits of detail and innovation that spark joy to the user. Whatever it is, it means something to some people, and it means less to others. For every customer, this decision is up to them.’
After Peak Design released the video, which has been viewed almost 3.5 million times, Amazon quietly renamed the bag from ‘Everyday Sling’ to ‘Camera Bag’.
As The Verge points out, Amazon owns and operates the world’s largest online retail marketplace and also has an ever-growing list of in-house brands that compete against its third-party sellers.
‘Amazon is one of Peak Design’s biggest partners,’ Peak Design’s video description says. ‘We’ve been selling Peak Design products on Amazon for years, and we work closely with Amazon to remove counterfeit and copycat products from their marketplace. Hence, we were astonished when we found out Amazon had copied one of our bestselling bags.’
Amazon has drawn criticism for copying other brands, such as an eco-footwear company Allbirds. It’s a strange flex, given the sales generated from selling copycat camera bags would be completely unnoticeable on Amazon’s annual report, which generates US$386 billion in net sales last year.
A major challenge facing innovative premium photo gear manufacturers is other companies reverse-engineering existing products and selling counterfeits for much cheaper. Copycat companies sometimes use inferior materials, this cost-effective manufacturing method also sidesteps research and development.
The reverse-engineered products typically come from companies based in manufacturing countries, such as China. Sometimes the products are known to even come out of the very same factories.
Danny Lenihan, the CEO of innovative British-based tripod specialist, 3 Legged Thing, wrote an illuminating take down of inferior counterfeit products in 2017. Here’s how he concludes the article:
‘Every time a cheap copy is purchased, pressure mounts on manufacturers to produce goods for less money, and make them more widely appealing and competitive. Product quality slips as the price goes down. Then the copies start coming down in price, until it gets to the point when stores don’t want to stock it any more, because they can no longer sell it competitively, and manufacturers don’t want to make it anymore, because it’s no longer economically or commercially viable.
Then, investment into innovation stops, and as new cameras are developed, there’s nobody around to make supporting accessories, because nobody wants to sink $100k of investment into a product that’ll be ripped off in 5 minutes. Once that happens, it’s all over. The industry gets smaller, less jobs, less profit and less products. It should be obvious to see what happens next. And it’s not just about photography. This is happening everywhere.’