Thursday, January 3, 2008

UPDATED: Gary Fong Knockoff! or His Wholesale Source?

Today, I was browsing for some equipment, in a store I don't normally shop, based in Hong Kong, DealExtreme. I stumbled upon an item that I not only paid $49 for from my US source, Gary Fong (at right), but I also paid $19 for a "tungsten" top of the device. Then, I run across the combined pair of items, seen below, for a sum total of $16.64, including shipping from Hong Kong! WHAT GIVES? Is this the same item?

(Continued after the Jump)

Gary has his item identified as the Lightsphere. DealExtreme calls it "Lambency Flash Diffuser". Over 400 of them can be found on Ebay under the Lambency name (below).
The items appear identical, and are available in both clear and opaque versions.

So, the question arises - since it's doubtful that Gary Fong owns the manufacturing of these, and unknown if he actually developed the device, could it be that Gary found these on a trip, and has been importing them for under $8 from the same manufacturer as DealExtreme (and all the ebayers) have, and selling them at a 600%+ markup?

Or, instead, did Fong design and find off-shore manufacturing of the device, and now it's being knocked off by others, or, since Fong has developed a new, WhaleTail and is now selling the Lightsphere at a $10 discount off his $49 price (i.e. drawing down the production), is the plant continuing to churn out the product and selling them to other companies who are selling them now worldwide for a fraction of Fong's price?

I do know that others whom I trust have made purchases without any problems from DealExtreme, so I am not concerned (in this case) about doing business with them. However, really, what gives?


UPDATE: What gives, is that these guys are knocking off Gary's product, as he notes in the comments! (see below)


Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

21 comments:

Brian said...

The Chinese have absolutely no respect for intellectual property laws. I don't know whether Fong designed the thing or not, but if he did...they wouldn't have any problem copying the thing and selling it under a new name.

If Fong designed it, I wouldn't buy a knock-off. We ask people to respect our IP (read: copyright), and can't go around pissing on others. But if he didn't, I'd be happy to save the cash.

D.Kwan said...

Fong called his $100 Photoshop actions his "inventions". I wouldn't be surprised if he simply discovered this diffuser and called it his invention as well.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't you ask Fong before posting?

Photographer Italy said...

I believed that Fong invented the Lightspere. Intellectual property laws must be respected.

Anonymous said...

The Chinese will copy anything... and then send it across borders without proper customs declarations.

If rape is inevitable...lay back and enjoy it...

Whoo Hoo... how does one say in "mandarin" I'll have a mushu pork

dualsub said...

If you look at Gary's blog he does say that he invented it and he has in the past posted patent applications for the thing. He is really quick to pat himself on the back with his "inventions" but I think he did actually come up with this. His blog also claims that they are made in the USA.

Gary knows about these people and is going after them. Again, read that on his blog a few months ago. I check it out once a week or so for the last 2 years.

Anonymous said...

Does it contain lead?

Anonymous said...

About 6 weeks ago I saw the injection molding tooling for this item, for sale, on an Chinese suppliers site. It could have been a worn or damaged piece, I don't know. Tooling is replaced from time to time. Folks with a patent usually go to great length to assure this tooling is destroyed.

If you look on the Patent Office web site you will be unable to locate a patent for Mr Fong's doodad. If the folks that are selling the knock-off have any sense of humor they would have named it the Fary Gong Photon Orb

Steve said...

Interesting that you just posted this - I bought one about a month ago from DealExtreme - and for the 16 bucks, it was more than worth it (up until this point, i've been using a tupperware bowl velcroed on my flash). Works great! And definitely not worth the $50 that Gary charges (my tuppeware worked just as well, just looked funny).

photography-solutions said...

These are knock-offs and a violation of Intellectual Property rights. When you support these sellers, you are contributing to the problem and reducing the incentive for iknventors to invest the time and money required to bring new products to market.

Gary Fong's diffusers were developed by him and are manufactured in the US - Wisconsin.

As for not being worth the $50 -- sure, not for plastic -- BUT, if you are a serious photographer, what value do you put on better images? If you are a pro, there isn't even a question on how much more saleable your photo are.

Questions on Gary Fong products should be directed to: support@garyfong.com and some videos on how to use a variety of his products are at: www.photography-solutions.com

Regards ... Paul

GARY FONG said...

Hi Everybody,

Gary Fong here. I just had a meeting with my three attorneys and we are working on our action.

This product is a knockoff and not made by me.

Thank you for those of you concerned. If companies are able to rip off somebody's efforts, then it would discourage people from trying to come up with new solutions. Same with photographers. If you were not compensated for your creative efforts you would be disincented to be creative. And obviously, you would feel pretty violated if somebody stole your idea and profited on it. That's how I feel.

I've asked the people at dealextreme in a nice way - can you please stop? And we got no response. So my attorneys are now getting involved.

Thank you to everybody for your concern and thoughtfulness.

Gary Fong
http://www.garyfong.com

John Harrington said...

Gary --

Thank you for your comments. I am pleased to learn of this development. I also, it should be noted, enjoy very much my legitimate version of your product! It has improved my images!

Regards,
John Harrington

Gary Fong said...

Thanks John!

Many people sent me the link to your site, so obviously it is very popular so I'm glad I could set the record straight.

There's no guarantee on Karma, but I'll just continue to believe that it exists!

Gary Fong

Canary in the coal mine, said...

Did Gary expect that he would not get "knocked-off" by the Chinese? Does he really expect to have any recourse with a business in Hong Kong. Hell Target, a U.S. Corporation had chairs made in China that were a knock-off the classic U.S. Navy Aluminum chair made and designed by a company in Pennsylvania.

The reality is, some designers knock themselves off first, in order to beat the pirates at their own game. There was an article in the New York Times about six weeks ago that featured an interview with a home furnishings designer in Conneticut who knocked off her own line at a lower cost point in order to keep control of her designs and to keep the price low enough so that the rip-off artists out of Asia could not make a dent in her market.

Just a thought. Yes, intellectual property needs to be respected. I doubt Gary will make any headway against this company. It is the reality of business today and Gary is learning how "business" is conducted outside of North America. The sad irony of this, is this post, most likely, has led to more people knowing about this company and their products.

Anonymous said...

I see they are no copying his whale tail design.
http://tinyurl.com/34jcfe

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Gary Fong eats Orange Beef?

Rob said...

As said in the comment above

"The sad irony of this, is this post, most likely, has led to more people knowing about this company and their products."

and at the top of the page there is a active link to the ebay site selling this attachment. I would let those ho wish to infringe find their own path rather than point them to it.

just my 2 cents

Anonymous said...

Thanks you just helped me save 40 bux I cant wait to get my hands on this product. SORRY GFong we are in resession.

Minh said...

The Chinese should have named this product the Larry Tong Light Orb. :D that would have made me laugh. I've used this product and it works pretty darn well. Come on man, 50 bucks for something Pro photographers use to make out of tubber-ware??

Ok I would have bought it for $30. Made in Wisconsin, or Wunan Province, he's making atleast 300% profit.

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