Rip Off Yellow Octopus
Rip Off Octopus

A Chinese Allegory:
Long ago in a land far away there lived a very poor couple. They had nothing except a one roomed shack to live in and a raised platform for sleeping on. One evening the husband was awoken by an intruder. There's a thief in our house he thought, but as there was nothing to steal, he kept quiet so as not to disturb his wife or risk confrontation. And when the would-be thief laid his quilted coat on the floor ready to receive any valuables and moved around the room searching, he reached down and silently pulled the thief's coat into the bed. The thief wasn't quiet enough though, and the wife awoke saying loudly; "husband husband there's a thief in the room". The husband responded immediately with "wife of mine we have nothing to steal so there's no thief in here, to which the intruder responded; "then who stole my coat ?"

And yes it's true, given opportunity and circumstance, more of us are subject to larcenous inclinations than it's comfortable to contemplate- and often rationalise these impulses as somehow justified- which is why state enforced protection of private property rights has become a central feature of functioning societies.

Rip Off Red Octopus
Rip Off Octopus

People who copy kites are like the thief in the night; aggrieved and self righteous when someone rips off their property but of a different view when they're doing the ripping.

And kite copyright owners are rather like the impecunious peasants. In law their property rights are recognised (globally by international treaties), but in practise the risks they face in attempting to assert ownership can outweigh any direct returns.

This is because legal actions are enormously expensive and take forever. Lawyer and court costs in a defended copyright action would very likely exceed the total sales of any but the most successful kite designs. Not a step to be taken lightly therefore- and even when successful, actually collecting whatever damages and costs are awarded is far from certain.

And, even if these gauntlets are successfully run, judging by the public's malleable morality over music copying it's possible that there could still be a backlash that would exceed the gain for any owner who takes a copyright action.

Fortunately the overwhelming majority of kite buyers refuse to buy rip-offs and don't make copies for themselves without permission (which is usually readily granted- but no promises! )

Organisers are also beginning to disallow rip-offs at their events - which well they might because they are in a vulnerable legal position if they don't.

But there are still some makers and purchasers who, somehow or other, convince themselves that wrong is right- or believe themselves beyond the reach of the law.

Against these people, there is only the deterrent effect of a successful action- even if it costs in the short term.

Regretfully therefore, kite copyright owners must sometimes take action against those who infringe their copyright in hope that others will get the message.

And this has just happened.

Rip Off Purple Octopus
Rip Off Octopus

After plenty of warnings, a US domiciled purchaser of six Chinese made PL maxi Octopus rip-offs was served with an infringement notice, and wisely agreed to cover the plaintiff's (Gomberg Kite Productions International) legal expenses and surrender the copies for destruction rather than defend the case. Any excess over costs received by David Gomberg will be donated to a kite charity.

Hopefully this will serve as sufficient warning to purchasers of rip-off kites and manufacturers who have thought themselves beyond legal reach so that no further actions need be taken.

Thank you David and Susan.

Peter Lynn, Den Haag, Sept 28 '09

Peter Lynn Kites Ltd
105 Alford Forest Rd
Ashburton 8300
Ph: +64 (0) 3 308 4538
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