Secrets of the Counterfeiters: Interview With Shure's Top Legal Eagle | Cult of Mac

Secrets of the Counterfeiters: Interview With Shure’s Top Legal Eagle


The audio manufacturer Shure has battled knockoffs for years.

The audio manufacturer Shure is known for its excellent headphones, which makes it a favorite target of counterfeiters.

In May, Shure helped Chinese authorities bust knockoff shops run by two Shanghai companies that were making copycat Shure headphones. The raids uncovered large quantities of Shure E2c and E4c earphones, which sell for about $70 and $170 respectively, as well as headphones branded JVC and Audio-Technica.

Unlike copycats of yore, today’s counterfeiters are amazingly sophisticated and accomplished, turning out high-quality knockoffs that in some ways rival the originals. Flickr user digaderfox bought a pair of fake Shures on eBay last year, and documented the surprisingly high quality of the knockoffs on the photo site.

Apple is also is becoming a target of copycats, with amazingly good knockoffs of iPhones and headsets coming onto the market.


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Paul Applebaum, Shure’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel, said counterfeiters are increasingly sophisticated. Some are setting up convincing factory-direct websites, or hijacking U.S. eBay accounts to make it appear goods are shipped domestically.

Full interview after the jump.

CoM: How big a problem is counterfeiting for Shure?

Applebaum: It’s difficult to know, because there is no reliable data about the counterfeit market. Making and selling counterfeit products is a criminal activity, and as you might expect, counterfeiters are not eager to report their sales figures. Because Shure is an industry leader with a strong brand name, we’re an attractive target for counterfeiters. There are actually two different categories of activity that can be described as counterfeiting, and Shure is subject to both. First, some counterfeiters offer products that bear no resemblance at all to any Shure product, but they apply a Shure name or model number to it and offer it for sale as a Shure product. Second, some counterfeiters offer products that are visually similar to a Shure product, but don’t sound or work the same at all.

CoM: Has it increased/decreased?

Applebaum: With the increasingly globalized economy, counterfeiting continues to proliferate. This may be partly because modern technology makes it easier to produce counterfeits and the internet makes it easier to market and sell them to unsuspecting buyers.

CoM: Where are the knockoffs sold — and how much for?

Applebaum: Most counterfeit Shure products are offered for sale to consumers through online-only dealers and through auction sites such as eBay. The pricing usually falls into the “too good to be true” category. Recently, we have noticed a proliferation of English language websites based in China that invite customers to “Trade with China Suppliers”, “Buy Wholesale from China” and “Deal Direct with the Factory”. Genuine Shure products are not distributed through any of these. We’ve also seen cases where dormant eBay accounts have been “hijacked” to make it appear that the counterfeit item is being shipped from the U.S., but the package that arrives comes from an address in China, with no other information.

CoM: How good are the knockoffs — what’s the quality like?

Applebaum: In every case where we have obtained an example of a counterfeit product, it has been of extremely poor quality or, in some cases, completely non-functional. The counterfeit may look similar to a Shure product — especially in a low-quality photo posted on a website — but the product is inferior in terms of sound quality and durability. Unfortunately, the buyer is usually unable to contact the seller because they have no phone number, no email.


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