Tenkara Goes to Court--Funny Funny
This appeared in the most recent news from Angling Trade. I had to
It’s not hard to have fly rods manufactured in Asia, or at least not nearly as hard as it used to be. If you’re interested in becoming a rod-maker, whether as a start-up brand or a fly shop looking to market your own private label rods, you have ready access to rods that are comparable to those being sold by your competitors.
In fact, it’s possible to get too comparable. So thinks Daniel Galhardo, founder and owner of Tenkara USA, who single-handedly introduced Japanese-style telescoping, fixed-line fly rods to the west in April 2009.
As tenkara has caught on, many small competitors have sprung up, all Internet-based. Galhardo says he’s had to issue a couple of cease-and-desist letters a month to tenkara rod companies, in the U.S. and Europe, mostly for appropriating his marketing copy or photos. But when he saw the following ad for the Denver Fly Shop, Galhardo called his lawyer, and the matter is now in U.S. District Court.
“We looked at all the Tenkara rods on the market and did some research and found one particular rod that outsells every other Tenkara rod combined and had our own version made by the same manufacturer as the leading Tenkara company,” Denver Fly Shop told customers in its e-newsletter. “Getting this rod without the use of a distributor is allowing us to sell this rod at far less than half the market price.”
The rod, which looks and works an awful lot like a Tenkara USA Ito, was advertised for $100. The real Ito goes for $235.95. Galhardo sued, alleging trade dress and trademark infringement, dilution, unfair competition, false description and false advertising.
Galhardo says it’s not true that the Denver Fly Shop rod is made by the same manufacturer that makes the Tenkara USA Ito. The shop is also mistaken in suggesting the Ito is the top-selling rod, he said; that honor goes to the company’s Iwana model.
And he notes that a lot of work and investment went into developing the Ito – long trips to Japan to study tenkara rods and consult with veteran tenkara anglers, more trips to China to find the right manufacturer, and eventually buying into the ownership of the rod factory. No wonder the fly shop can charge less, he said.
“This was one of the first that was a clear attempt to copy a rod, and a rod that I spent a long time designing – and it was right here in my neighborhood,” said Galhardo, who moved Tenkara USA from San Francisco to Boulder, Colo. last year. “In my mind, that really diminished the value of our product. Essentially (the fly shop) was saying that our rods weren’t worth as much as they are.” (Denver Fly Shop did not respond to requests for an interview.)
I met some folks in Townsend that were very keen on their Tenkara rods. Is it basically a cane pole? They said they didn't catch much but I am trying to understand why a telescoping rod was a big deal to them. Anyone else a fan of these rods?
Trying to keep up
We recently added a regular Tenkara column to Southern Trout, and hereafter plan to try to run perhaps two such entries per issue. This will be reflected in the next issue (Aug/Sept), along the addition of articles under "Featured" that are explanded to include rod makers and fly tyers.
Beginning with the Oct/Nov issue we will expand to include coverage of kayak (and related crafts) with a column and features on the subject. In October we will be at the FFF thingie in Mountain Home, AR. The Oct/Nov issue will also have our first coverage of trout fishing in Missouri (well, the are the in the SEC now, eh?)
If all goes well, we will launch a radio show in Janurary, followed later in the year with another bi-monthly digital magazine that will cover fly fishing in the South for warm/cool water and saltwater species of game fish.
Next week we fly out to Las Vegas for the ICAST Show which this year has merged with the fly fishing trade show. We have meetings with most of the big companies, which should be interesting to see how they respond to our pitches for their advertising dollars. It's every bit as unpredictable as slots.
Am I missing something? I don't see anything funny.
No you're not...
The only thing funny about this thread was your comment.
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