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I Wonder If This Will Spur More Copycats

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I rarely ever read through the Hookah News section on the site, but this one caught my eye
 

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140109/22373125831/no-you-cant-copyright-hookah.shtml

 

Being that there is now a precedent, there could, feasibly, be a LOT more copycat pipes and bowls and such coming out. I don't know that Eric would pursue it legally if it happened, but according to that, a direct and "exact" tangiers knockoff bowl could be made and it would be tough for him to make a claim to it. For years there have been all kinds of imitation phunnel bowls, which hasn't been a big deal because they don't look or perform exactly the same. Now, they probably could and not much could be said. 

 

Thoughts?

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Haven't people been making knock offs of successful products for years? I mean come on, I know my dad brought me back a knock off Rolex when he went to China on business (my Rownex, as I call it). Just means one has to be more informed as a consumer. I know we have a thread for someone knocking off Santino and crown's products. 

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As far as shisha goes, a lab test of the contents in Tangiers would reveal the exact amounts of the ingredients used. You could do this with any brand, and even though you wouldn't have the same exact tobacco used, you could get pretty close to the real deal. I know things like the Lotus and the Apple On Top bowl are patented, but AFAIK no ceramic or glass bowl is patented. JJ Ceramics made their copies of the Super Chief, Phunnel, and others - granted they are slightly different and probably don't work as well as the real deal, nobody has filed a lawsuit against them yet. We can look at brands like Fumo, they designed the sideways "Tank" hookah and now many brands have copied that same design, including Heavy Hitter, Lavoo, and probably a few other Chinese brands. Regal's metal portions of their stem were copied by Brazil Hookahs and a few other companies.. would that be enough to file a lawsuit over? 

 

But with a patented design, would every single Tangiers bowl need to be the exact same size, shape, and weight, or are there ways to patent a handmade product produced with certain tolerances? I just think it is a waste of time to do so. Let's face it, other than Ed Hardy and Starbuzz, nobody is going to copy the crappy design of an Inhale product... Nobody is going to copy the Apple On Top bowl or the exact design of the Lotus - they might make something better, but is there really a market for things like the Apple On Top? I don't see why companies waste their time with copies of crappy products when they could actually be furthering the hookah industry by creating something new that won't need a lower price point or a brand name to sell... Just make something worth our time and the profits will pour in. 

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5 star has been knocking off banned vendor for years, just adding training wheels to the bowl as we like to call em

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5 star has been knocking off banned vendor for years, just adding training wheels to the bowl as we like to call em

 

What do you mean by that? I know who you're talking about, I'm just not sure how you mean "adding training wheels". 

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Well it seems from the article that it has to do more with the "base" only. I agree with the courts, you cannot copyright a shape of a water base. Now if the base has some kind of unique feature that wasn't utilitarian (standard) that particular feature would be protected against copyright infringement. I mean there's probably only a dozen different base styles/shapes anyways.

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"The panel held that the hookah water container, a useful
article, was not copyrightable because it did not incorporate
sculptural features that could be identified separately from,
and were capable of existing independently of, the container’s
utilitarian aspects."

 

The shape of the base was the only thing under consideration here and that's because on its own, wasn't uniquely identifiable as something other than a vase.  Now, if it had horns, a stand, or some other crap that made it appear other than a glorified vase, then they might have had something.  Maybe.

 

So as of now, only vases were ruled here.  Stems, bowls, and other parts of a hookah are still open game to legal interpretation.

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He could have probably copyrighted the phunnel design since its a functional design, but not the overall shape of the bowl.

 

I agree wholeheartadly with the courts, the shape of the bowl is an artistic design and has nothing to do with its function so the copyright lawsuit is ridiculous.

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I understand Inhale's gut reaction... SB are well known theives just ask Disney and POM Wonderful.

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"The panel held that the hookah water container, a useful
article, was not copyrightable because it did not incorporate
sculptural features that could be identified separately from,
and were capable of existing independently of, the container’s
utilitarian aspects."

 

The shape of the base was the only thing under consideration here and that's because on its own, wasn't uniquely identifiable as something other than a vase.  Now, if it had horns, a stand, or some other crap that made it appear other than a glorified vase, then they might have had something.  Maybe.

 

So as of now, only vases were ruled here.  Stems, bowls, and other parts of a hookah are still open game to legal interpretation.

 

The thing I was getting at is more that if they set a precedent that something on a hookah is function-over-form, it makes it much easier to make that same argument on other parts of the pipe. I mean, at the end of the day, is a court really going to see the difference between a phunnel bowl and a regular bowl? Tobacco goes inside, foil goes on top, coals go on top of that and the smoke produced by that goes down the bowl, down through the stem, out the downstem, up through the water and out the hose port. Everything about the pipe and it's accessories is related to that function, no matter what the minor differences are. I'm imagining that's how the courts would see it, anyways, and why this ruling makes sense. The shape of the base has yet to be proven by anyone to have any difference whatsoever on the function, and as such you can't have a proprietary design saying "because we put ridges on it, it smokes better" or something to that effect. With a bowl you would have a stronger argument to make, but even then you're stretching, seeing as we have people on this forum that smoke the same things and swear by different products.

 

The bar at the top of the spire to help people with foil drag

 

But is that really 5 star's doing? I know they are in tight with a few different companies, but at the end of the day they are still just a vendor.

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It should have never been a copyright issue.  Inhale should have attempted to get a design patent on the base as opposed to a copyright.  Inhale didn't properly protect their design.

 

As for the phunnel, Eric never patented it so it is open for anyone to make.  With that being said, no one else can patent it to prevent Eric from continuing to make it either.  It's open to the public now.  Eric said something along the lines of others are welcome to copy it and even try to improve it.  the end result would be greater choice and innovation for the hookah smoking consumers to choose from.

 

The funny thing is that even though the design is open for the public to use, no one has made one that even works as well as the original.

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By no means was I taking a side Ty, I was just clearing up the "training wheels" reference for ya.

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