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High and Dry at the Border: Blender Bottle Imitations Poison for Business
By Amanda Stinson
When Stephen Couture learned he could literally buy 10,000 shaker bottles for a lower price from a company in China, he took his chance and made a big order.
His company, based just outside of Boston, MA, is always on the hunt to find great deals and ultimately save money.
Then again, this is what business is all about: financial gain equals success.
However, in this case, Couture has not benefited from his recent order that’s been sitting at the U.S. border for over four months now.
You see the 46 year-old entrepreneur and MIT graduate gambled on buying Blender Bottle imitations with the standard wire ball from a company in China. He ordered 10,000 units that are being held and seized by the U.S. Customs Border and Protection Agency.
But it gets even worse for Couture.
Sure, it’s one thing his order is locked up, but now he faces a possible class-action lawsuit from Blender Bottle for bringing imitations into the U.S.
That’s right he is guilty on infringing on a patented product, meaning huge potential issues for him and his company.
He anticipates his move to save money could end up costing his company thousands of dollars in fines and in court fees – a process that will probably drag out in the court system for the next three to five years.
“The whole situation is draining me,” says Couture from his office in an industrial park in the Greater Boston Area. “I mean I have worked so hard over the last decade in building my business and with the snap of a finger I may have cost myself large sums of money buying these patent protected shakers.”
He adds, “I am telling all my colleagues in the sports supplement and fitness industry to make sure they think twice about falling into the same trap.”
“I am now faced with dishing out my monies to fines with Customs and legal fees and court fees as well. I wish I could turn back the clock and avoided making such a stupid decision.”
While Couture is bracing for the worst, Claire Evans has already endured his soon-to-be-nightmare.
A short while ago she ordered 2500 unites of Blender Bottle imitations from China and it cost her business over $18,000.00 in fines, legal fees and court fees.
Her business is based in Montreal, PQ, Canada.
“When you do business in China you need to be careful,” says Evans. “When working with a company from this part of the world you need to make sure they are legitimate and that they follow international business guidelines and human rights guidelines as many will rely on child labor and operate at unsafe facilities.”
But it’s not all doom and gloom in China.
In fact if you do your research and check around, there are still plenty of reputable and leading companies offering the best in products, especially when it comes to shaker bottles.
A case in point is the popular Typhoon shaker bottle that includes a turbo strainer with blades that mixes protein more efficiently than the standard wire ball option.
Dr. Peter Getty, a professor of business and an expert on global trade at Pace University, indicates that companies always need to do their homework before doing business in China.
“China has emerged as a new world leader and it’s a hotspot for business these days,” says Dr. Getty. “China is popular simply because labor production, products and locations of operation are cheaper compared to the western world. So many people get caught up in saving money and they jump in bed with the first company that makes them a lower offer. However, buyer beware: cheaper is not always better and when you buy ‘look-alike’ products and you probably are infringing on patents and offering your consumer base with unsafe goods that are potentially harmful and even fatal.”
Gus Kasperski who owns an online sports supplement company has been hearing the entire ruckus going on with companies buying Blender Bottle imitations and how they are getting hit hard.
“I am hearing so many horror stories from people in my industry that went on the cheap and made orders for Blender Bottle imitations. My advice to any company, spend the extra money and keep your customers happy. The bottom line is cheaper is not always better, and remember you probably will never get rich buying imitations. Buying fakes usually ends up costing you more in the long run… Pay now or pay later. Be wise and go with the right products.”
Kasperski’s says, “Just do your research and you will see that there are lots of reputable companies offering some great shaker bottle products, like the real Blender bottles and Typhoons,” he says. “I encourage everyone to buy quality and stay away from cheap imitations.”