11/18/2011 - NEWS!
FULL SPEED AHEAD FIGHTS COUNTERFEITS
Since 2009, Full Speed Ahead (FSA) has been actively and aggressively pursuing manufacturers and re-sellers of counterfeit FSA branded products. Counterfeit parts originating in China pose a pervasive safety problem for the bicycle industry as such parts fail to meet industry quality standards in addition to our strict manufacturing specifications, and are untested and made of inferior materials.
It came to the attention of Tien Hsin Industries Co., Ltd., the Taiwan-based manufacturer of FSA branded products, that certain bicycle retail stores in Taiwan were selling counterfeit FSA goods. Tien Hsin contracted private investigators who staked out the retailers, documented deliveries of counterfeit goods, followed the delivery trucks to the warehouses, and eventually to the manufacturers, and delivered complete documentation to Tien Hsin.
Armed with this evidence, Tien Hsin was able to engage the Taiwan police, and gain trademark infringement convictions in Taiwan court of the retailers, re-sellers, and manufacturers, through trademark infringement. The re-sellers and manufacturers either paid restitution, or were sentenced to time in jail for their illegal activities.
Since that time, counterfeit copies of some FSA products have begun to find their way into the markets in Europe and the USA.
FSA S.R.L., the European distributor based in Busnago, Italy, found counterfeit parts listed on eBay, and other web based retailers. By following the paper trail to the sellers, FSA S.R.L., engaged the Financial Police branch of the Italian customs (La Guardia di Finanzia), who conducted several well publicized raids on the premises of the sellers, and seized numerous counterfeit goods, including wheels, handlebars, stems, and seatposts. These sellers were prosecuted under trademark infringement laws, and suffered either serious financial penalties, or incarceration. A YouTube video of one of the police raids is available here (Italian language only).
In the following months, both FSA S.R.L., and Full Speed Ahead, Inc., the North America distributor based in Washington State, received emails from consumers regarding products they had purchased through eBay, which had clear specification differences from legitimate FSA products. Investigation of these products led back to the same kinds of counterfeit goods that were originally found in the police raids in Italy and Taiwan.
Since the primary avenue of sales for these counterfeit goods has been through online marketplaces, like eBay, both FSA S.R.L., and Full Speed Ahead, Inc. have registered our products with the eBay 'Vero' program, which allows companies or individuals who own trademarks or patents to help police their product listings. The program allows enrolled members to simply email eBay with document of the counterfeit good listing, and within a few hours eBay will remove the listing.
Using the Vero program is an important tool, but requires a huge amount of time and vigilance on the part of the trademark owner to seek out the offending listings. Due to the proliferation of sellers on eBay and other online marketplaces, and the difficulty of policing this issue on our own, FSA has chosen to make this public statement regarding the counterfeit goods problem.
Full Speed Ahead products have grown from an idea into a leading brand in our industry. We take pride in our accomplishments so far, and know that they have been achieved with great effort and energy. We make some of the best products in our industry, and spend countless hours perfecting the designs, testing our products to ensure they meet or exceed industry standards, and conducting serious quality assurance. While some may say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery, we take great offense to this piracy, and are committed to actively pursuing the infringers and any re-sellers.
For this reason, Full Speed Ahead would like to publicly warn both consumers and retailers that purchasing FSA products through unauthorized online marketplaces, or other such re-sellers, bears serious risks that the goods may be counterfeit and often unsafe to use. Full Speed Ahead sells its products to bike manufacturers for assembly onto many of the best performing bicycles in the world. We also sell our products for aftermarket sales to some of the best distributors and retailers in our markets. We strongly urge consumers to only buy Full Speed Ahead products from bicycle retail stores, or authorized online retailers. We also recommend that bike shops only buy Full Speed Ahead products from their recognized bicycle parts distributors, and bicycle brand partners. Again, buying our FSA products from online marketplaces, or from foreign trading sites runs a very high risk that they may be buying a counterfeit product.
Full Speed Ahead is committed to pursuing and litigating any entity that knowingly or unknowingly sells, distributes, or manufacturers counterfeit goods which infringe our trademarks, designs, or patents to the full extent of the law.
Like many of our co-manufacturers in the industry, we were surprised when the counterfeit parts in volume arrived on the market. Now that this subject has raised its ugly head, we will do all that we can to stop the demand, production, and distribution of these parts. If you have any questions regarding this topic, please contact Full Speed Ahead.