Selfie stick iPhone case gets counterfeited before it even exists

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Stikbox selfie stick case CES 2016
Stikbox founder Yekutiel Sherman shows off his only working prototype of the selfie stick iPhone case.
Photo: Lewis Wallace/Cult of Mac

Cult of Mac CES 2016 full coverage LAS VEGAS — You know your product’s hot when Chinese ripoff artists start selling knockoffs before your first unit rolls off the production line.

That’s the “flattering” situation the makers of Stikbox, the world’s “first” selfie stick case for iPhone and Samsung, find themselves in as they demo their only aluminum prototype on the CES show floor here. Stikbox’s Kickstarter campaign launched just two weeks ago, and the unique case hasn’t even been officially manufactured, yet already dozens of clones have popped up online.

“It just goes on,” Stikbox founder Yekutiel Sherman said as he scrolled through listing after listing of Chinese manufacturers selling Stikbox clones on Taobao, an e-commerce site owned by Alibaba Group. “Endless, endless,” he said, a mix of shock and dismay in his voice.

China is well-known as a hotbed of pirated products, and the controversy spilled over this week into CES, the world’s largest electronics convention: U.S. Marshals took the unusual step of raiding the CES booth of Chinese skateboard maker Changzhou First International Trade after Future Motion, manufacturer of the OneWheel hoverboard, filed a patent complaint.

While counterfeiting is nothing new, the speed with which the Stikbox got copied left Sherman’s head spinning. Some of the blatant counterfeiters use the Stikbox name and marketing materials in their listings.

“They’re even using my face,” Sherman said. “No shame!”

It’s easy to see why the cloners stole Sherman’s idea. While the world might have reached peak selfie stick, the Stikbox makes it simple to stealthily carry around the photographic accessory beloved by snapshot narcissists the world over.

The Stikbox’s selfie stick folds compactly into the back of the surprisingly thin and light case, which looks something like a puzzle box. The stick extends smoothly and, while the prototype doesn’t have a remote shutter button, the final product will, Sherman said.

He’s heading to China after he leaves Las Vegas to meet with potential vendors who will bring his vision to life — legitimately.

Bob Christie, a spokesman fo Alibaba Group, said his company aggressively goes after counterfeiters but couldn’t comment directly on this particular case.

“Alibaba Group is dedicated to the fight against counterfeits,” the company said in a statement sent to Cult of Mac. “We work closely with our government partners, brands and industry associations to tackle this issue at its source. We also utilize technology like data mining and big data to scrub our platforms of counterfeits.”

As for the apparent speed of the counterfeiters, Christie wasn’t sure if the Stikbox cloners were faster than usual. “I couldn’t tell you, honestly,” he said.

CES has been full of surprises for the team behind Stikbox. David Sherman, Stikbox’s chairman, said he was telling a woman he ran into about the $29 accessory, which will work with iPhones and Samsung smartphones once it’s brought to market. She said she already owned one.

“I was so happy for her,” he said, more than a hint of sarcasm in his voice.

There’s one bright side for Stikbox team, which is based in Israel: They’ve already applied for patents in the United States, China and elsewhere.

“That’s why you see me calm,” David Sherman said.

He’s concerned about lost revenue, obviously, and there’s always the possibility that inferior knockoffs might tarnish the Stikbox brand. But he said he’s making his own trip to China after the Chinese New Year.

He won’t be sizing up potential manufacturers, though. He’ll be meeting with local attorneys.

If you want a legitimate Stikbox, go to the Stikbox Kickstarter campaign. It’s currently 96 percent funded, with two weeks to go.

Update: Now you can preorder counterfeit Stikbox cases on eBay, too.

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