In the modern age of the internet and relatively easy access to manufacturing in countries with loose intellectual property laws, fake/counterfeit brand name items are very easily found and bought. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has become mainstream enough that this is happening within the BJJ community. Particularly, there are several brands/designers who are highly sought after, and whose work is frequently pirated.
I assert that this is not only bad for those individuals, but bad for our sport and on a grander scale to each and every one of us.
Heres how it works:
A brand, for example, my sponsor Pony Club Grappling Gear, puts out a product that looks awesome. A company, gleans the images from that product on the internet and sells a product bearing that design minus the PCGG branding at a substantially lower price. People buy it because the designs are dope, and the product is much cheaper. Sounds like the consumer is getting a better deal!
Heres the problem: the company does NOT have the same creative talent that PCGG and the designers they use do. The reason some of these products cost what they cost is because of the price of the time of the designer. Quality can also be a factor, but lets be honest: Meerkatsu wants to make a living. Bear Quitugua (owner of oft knocked off Shoyoroll) wants to make a living.
Creativity doesnt come cheap. You shouldnt do anything youre good at for free. There are people who want to live the BJJ life and make money doing BJJ but who dont want to own their own academies or compete for a living. Enter BJJ artists, brand owners, writers etc. Even I, a relatively new writer, have found some of MY work plagiarized by unscrupulous publications.
The more of a market there is supporting the brands out there who produce awesome stuff, the more awesome stuff those brands will make. Knock offs can be nice and of high quality, but the effect they have on a grand scale is very negative.
How can I tell if I have a fake product?
Most brand owners are on Facebook. If you suspect something is counterfeit take a picture of it and send it to the brand owner. Theyll be grateful, if not for anything else but for the knowledge of the fake. They may want to know where you got it so that they can contact the company that produced the item and address it themselves.
If you are wondering if something you bought is fake it can be relatively easy to determine an items authenticity. Ask the following:
- Was it too cheap to be true?
- Is the printing a little suspect,
- Does the artwork not appear to be up to the standard you saw on the internet
- And lastly did you buy it from an authorized seller?
Given the proliferation of online shopping (EBay, shady gear dealers etc), fake gear can be easy to come by. The easiest way to avoid it is to only buy from authorized dealers, but if you do buy something on EBay or that looks questionable, do your legwork and if the item is in fact fake, use the buyer protection program.
Dont. Buy. Fake. Gear.
Yeah it sucks to pay 30 bucks for a tee-shirt when that exact same tee-shirt costs 15 when knocked off, but at the end of the day the fake gear hurts the brands, which means the brands cant sponsor as many athletes or put out releases as frequently. Worst case scenario, guys like Meerkatsu give up entirely on selling BJJ gear and then where will the awesome designs that the counterfeiters steal come from?
Woldorf Website Using Meerkatsu Design
Emil Fischer is an active blue belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training with Strong Style Brasa and is sponsored by Pony Club Grappling Gear and Cruz Combat. For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at www.facebook.com/emilfischerbjj www.twitter.com/Emil_Fischer and https://instagram.com/emilfischerbjj/