Is imitation really flattery or is it just fraud?


As part of our December focus on products this year, John Berry takes a look at the ever-present conundrum of knock-offs. Especially relevant in the product realm, knock-offs raise the question of whether imitation is really such a complement. More specifically, is it flattery or is it just plain ol' fraud?

Consider the thoughts of the late industrial designer Bill Stumpf:
"The differences between something authentic and something fake is like the difference between real and concentrated orange juice. The essence of orange juice is found in drinking a freshly squeezed glass. Only the attributes are found in drinking a glass made from frozen concentrate. It is just not the same."

Seems we're not the only ones with knock-offs on the brain. Earlier this week the BBC reported on a development in Bangladesh that is examining the flattery or fraud debate on a large scale.
A Bangladeshi filmmaker, Ahsanullah Moni, is building a life-size replica of the Taj Mahal (in Agra, India) about 30 km northeast of Bangladesh's capital Dhaka. After five years in development, it is due to open for visitors shortly. His inspiration? While the Taj Mahal is on many people's must-see lists, few Bangladeshis can afford the trip to see the actual monument. India's Bangladesh embassy, however, sees this issue in a different light. According to a spokesman from the Indian High Commission, "you can't just go and copy historical monuments." It seems, however, that's exactly what Moni is doing. What do you think: is it flattery or fraud? 

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