Thanks to everyone who has posted on this topic.
I consider myself privileged to be able to hear your thoughts and opinions on this interesting issue. Our main objective as a business is to serve you, our customers.
Many of the points made in this thread are of a general nature. That's understandable because I started this thread with a fairly general post. I wanted to hear your general opinions and impressions, and I've read each and every response carefully.
Many of the negative things that were said or implied in this thread are not true.
For example, Kronos says he "has it on VERY GOOD authority that MM is more than just a company that supplies Penguin their 'questionable' goods. Magic Makers creates the stuff at Penguins request." Kronos and his source are absolutely 100% wrong. We have never asked Magic Makers to manufacture a knock off of anything. We have done exactly the opposite. Many times we've asked Magic Makers not to manufacture knock offs. We have no connection to Magic Makers outside of a
traditional manufacturer/retailer relationship. Why would Kronos make such an outrageous claim? Because several of our competitors are actively feeding people like Kronos this bogus information. One competitor admitted to me that his company is going out of its way to start and spread a rumor that Penguin Magic and Magic Makers are one company. They're trying to associate us with Magic Makers because they believe that Magic Makers' competitive manufacturing practices will tarnish our reputation. As I've stated previously, there is no connection between the two companies outside of the traditional manufacturer/retailer relationship.
There have also been links posted to a bogus claim that we initiated the manufacture of an item Terry LaGerould had sent to us as a sample. That account is absolutely 100% false. Such behavior would be unethical, and we would be the first to call it such. Inventors send us effects for consideration every day, and we have NEVER manufactured one without the inventor's consent. We need inventors to send us their new ideas, so it would be extremely foolish for us to steal an idea that had been submitted to us. We would NEVER do that.
Each and every item we carry has been carefully selected. We have a strict policy regarding ethics and innovation that we follow carefully. You can read our policy here: http://www.penguinmagic.com/ethicsandinnovation.php
Whenever I hear someone say something about Penguin carrying knock-offs I ask them a simple question: "Which items do you think we should stop carrying?"
We carry about 800 products. I've gone through this thread and picked out all of the references to products that have been called "knock-offs". Out of the roughly 800 products that we carry, 28 have been accused of being "knock-offs".
I'll go through one-by-one and explain why these are not "knock-offs", and why carrying each item is 100% ethical. As we examine each item you'll notice a common theme. The theme is that there's an important difference between "knocking off" an item that someone invented last week and manufacturing an old or classic item that nobody owns.
When you read the discussion boards you hear a lot of talk about protecting inventors. We support inventors, and we're always glad when there is good information out there for them so they can learn to protect their inventions and maximize their income. But some have also claimed that we are hurting inventors of magic by carrying "knock-offs" manufactured by other companies.
As you read the list of effects that these people are talking about, I think you'll see that we make our decisions carefully, and none of the effects we carry are the type of "knock offs" they are made to sound like. They're legitimate products that are manufactured in an ethical way, and you deserve the choice to purchase them at Penguin if and when you're in the market.
A lot of our detractors probably don't even realize that we don't carry many of the products that they are opposed to, and never have. As a manufacturer of many original items, and as a company that regularly works with inventors on new concepts, we have NOTHING to gain by the proliferation of "knock-offs".
Here's a list of the items that we carry that people have called "knock-offs":
The Time Machine
- People have been gimmicking watches to perform this effect for many years. Various custom manufacturers have made it available in the past. Collector's Workshop was the first company to mass produce this item. Later, Bazaar de Magia came out with a version. Collector's was upset at Bazaar de Magia when they came out with it, and Bazaar de Magia had the audacity to be upset at Magic Makers when they came out with it. The truth is that it's been around for many, many years and anyone who wishes to manufacture it has every right. We used to carry the Bazaar de Magia version, but it was more expensive and the mechanism didn't work as well. Hardly anybody bought it, and we eventually discontinued it. The Magic Makers motor and mechanism are unique to Magic Makers. The motor and mechanism are patented by Magic Makers. Magic Makers has now released five versions of the effect.
- Tenyo was one of the first to manufacture the "nest of boxes" concept as a magic trick. Al Cohen decided to make it in metal. Viking Magic mass produced the concept in metal for the first time. Magic Makers decided to produce a version in metal also.
Color Deception Brass
- This is a classic of magic. We know of at least six versions that have been manufactured in recent times all by different manufacturers. It is understandable that companies producing this classic effect would not want competition, but they cross the line and lose credibility when they suggest that others are knocking them off by producing the item.
Coloring Book of Magic
- This is one of the oldest recorded magic tricks in the world. Many versions of this effect have been manufactured in the hundreds if not thousands of years that it has been around. Fun, Inc. has complained that this version uses a similar color scheme as the Fun, Inc version. Unfortunately for Fun, Inc. they did not invent the concept of primary colors. This is THE classic example of a company screaming about competition in a way that dilutes the legitimate and important issues associated with protecting inventors of magic today.
- This is an improvement on the Cavorting Quarters. Some say this is a knock off of the Coin Funnel, it is not. But, even if it were, it would still be 100% ethical as Al Cohen, its inventor, has given Magic Makers permission to manufacture the Coin Funnel.
The Rattle Box
- This is an old German item. Davenport's sold one long before George Robinson was even in business.
Deluxe Pen Thru Dollar
- Tenyo's Wandering Hole was an incredible effect. Many pen through dollar designs have been marketed since.
The Stagge Ring
- Popularized by [edited] Himbers. The original ring was designed for people who had arthritis. [edited] had the idea to make it a magic trick. The rest is history... ancient history.
The Golden Key
- Rob Bromley was one of the first to produce this item. Shortly after Jay Leslie began producing the item. Viking Magic was next, followed by Magic Makers.
Card Guard Superior
- George Shindler popularized the card clip, however card clips have been around for many years. The Card Guard Superior is nothing like the Joe Porper Card Clip in design. Joe Porper did not invent or even claim to have invented the card clip, nor does he have a problem with the Magic Makers version. Both products can and should happily exist in the marketplace. This is another example of an absurd rumor that was cooked up in an internet discussion board that keeps getting repeated mindlessly. Here we officially warn you to take all "facts" you hear from unqualified sources on Internet discussion boards with the proverbial 'grain of salt'.
Ultimate 3 Domino Monte
- The concept has existed in many other products. It was first applied to dominos in an effect called Dubious Dominos that came out of Holland. Bizarre de Magia produced a version that was startlingly similar. Our version comes with a different set of props and an all new routine that ends clean.
Sal Piacente’s Expert Card Magic Lecture Notes DVDs
- Sal Piacente and Steve Forte are the top two card gambling experts in the world. They're also very close friends. Two weeks ago Acar and I had dinner with Sal in Vegas. He was staying at Steve Forte's house while he was in town. Sal is a student of Steve's, and would have been the first to protect these items if Steve hadn't wanted them to be released. Michael Close's characterization of this release as "unauthorized" is inaccurate and calls into question Michael Close's integrity and reliability. This isn't the first time Michael Close has attempted to do public damage to others by misrepresenting the facts in his column. He knows better, and the community deserves better. Magic Magazine are you listening?
- The Chink-A-Chink concept has been around for over 50 years. It has been done with bottle caps, sugar cubes, dinner mints, rubber balls, and other small common items. We were surprised to hear that David Roth claims ownership on performing the effect with coins, however we have temporarily removed this effect at his request out of our respect for some of the other more substantial contributions he has made to coin magic.
Starry Eyed Surprise
- The effect of producing four aces is certainly not original. This method is exactly 50% different from Lee Asher's Thunderbird. By any standard, (patent or magic tradition) an effect that's 50% unique is different enough. Volumes upon volumes of magic books have been published with "legitimate variations" that are far less original than this one. We have temporarily removed this effect in order to re-shoot the first half of the effect. The inventor, Oz Pearlman, feels strongly that the first 2 moves in the routine are not critical to the power of the overall effect.
- We put together a deal with Colin Gilbert and Martin Breeze through Magic City, the official US distributor of Linking Lifesavers. Because of the deal we all agreed to, we made purchasing decisions on this item that are irreversible. Later we found out that Colin and Martin had negotiated the deal in bad faith. They had never intended to give us the authorization they had promised, but were fully prepared to accept the payment. They attempted to extort more money by starting a smear campaign on various online discussion forums.
- This Sankey Magic effect is original to Jay. While the gimmick may have existed beforehand, the handling and presentation is all Jay.
- We worked with several of Slydini's friends in creating our version of this classic knotted silk effect. Weighing in at over 50 years old, this effect falls squarely in the category of public domain.
- This effect is currently produced by dozens of manufacturers. In the past we've carried three different versions manufactured by three different companies. The effect has been around for over 50 years and the intellectual property involved is owned by no one.
- This is a classic effect. Dozens of different manufacturers produce this item. So can we. So could you if you were so inclined.
The Daley Show
– This effect is taught on a number of well known beginner card magic books and DVDs, and is generally considered public domain.
Penguin’s 3 Shell Game
- The Three Shell Game is as old as the hills. The idea that this is a knock-off is absurd. Anyone who would seriously suggest that our walnut shells are similar to another company's walnut shells is nuts.
The Obedient Die
- This effect is an old classic that dates back to at least
1960. It appears in the Louis Tannen Magic Catalog #10 Published in 1973, Page 14. It was called Rota Dice back then and sold for $3.50.
- This is an Oz Pearlman original. Some claim that it is too similar to another sandwich effect, but it is in fact VERY different.
The Magic Rattle Box
- This IS Terry LaGerould's Nothing Box, simply with our packaging. Terry sold the manufacturing rights to Magic Makers Inc. We have never sold anything other than the Magic Makers Terry LaGerould Nothing Box. We had nothing to do with the Magic Makers decision to manufacture the item, or Terry LaGerould's decision to sell Magic Makers the rights.
- This effect was originally invented by David Harkey and published in Simply Harkey, 1991. Oz independently conceived of a more drastic version using a different method. Some prefer the Harkey version, others prefer The Sizzle.
The Penetration Wand
- We were led to believe by the manufacturer that this effect was published many years ago and simply modernized by John Kennedy. As soon as we found out that it was original to John (an incredible inventor and a good friend of Penguin), we discontinued it.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Trick
- This effect was originally put out and popularized by Timothy Wenk. Since then three major magic distributors have come out with their own versions of the effect.
- We have never carried this product because we found the quality to be inferior to the one manufactured by Chazpro (which we have carried for years and had great success with).
The truth is, we carry 800 outstanding items that we're proud to offer you.
We're proud to be a part of the magic community, and we'll continue to support our customers and the inventors who help them amaze.
Thank you all for your thoughts and questions.