In the small East Coast town of South Plainfield, New Jersey, a company by the name of Au’some Candies Inc. is distributing the Au’some Skateboard With Gummi Sneaker.
It’s part of the company’s Radical Wheelz line of confectioneries that also includes the Radical Scooter.
The package consists of an Au’some skateboard-essentially a low-end fingerboard offered in a series of eight collectible graphics, each with “fruit-flavored Gummi sneakers.” Individual units retail for approximately $1.50 and are currently distributed solely to convenience stores throughout America, as well as Europe and Asia.
Au’some Candies is a subsidiary of Hong Kong’s Candy Novelty Works Limited-a 40-year-old company that, according to its Web site, “has become one of the largest ‘interactive candy’ manufacturers in the world,” and is manufacturing the Au’some Skateboard because “skateboarding is one of the hottest sports among kids. We’ve created the ultimate mini skateboard with a delicious fruit-flavored Gummi sneaker.”
An air of controversy arose late last year when the product was launched, and it was observed that one of the “collectible graphics” offered in the series is virtually identical to a Darkstar board graphic. Jim Shubin is the director of marketing at Dwindle Distribution, Darkstar Wood’s parent company. “I first became aware of it (the Au’some Skateboard with Gummi Sneaker) probably last October or November,” he says. “The first time I saw it, though, was only a couple of months ago. Every time I come across a counterfeit item, whether it be domestic or international, my first reaction is to make sure the situation is being taken care of. In general, each case of counterfeit products is dealt with individually.”
Shubin says when incidents like this occur, anyone from Dwindle staff or independent distributors to skaters themselves inform Dwindle management: “I have consumers e-mail me all the time when they see something. For example, if someone sees Josh Kasper (promoting a product) on some random Web site, they let us know, and we check it out and resolve the issue from there.”
Shubin explains the only company licensed to use the Darkstar logo or graphics on mini skateboards is X-Concepts, makers of Tech Deck products.
When SKATE Biz contacted Au’some Candies to comment on the issue, a person who identified herself as “Rose” said she was unaware that the graphic in question was in fact a Darkstar graphic, saying the product was manufactured in its entirety in Hong Kong. She refused to comment on how graphics are chosen, created, or manufactured, and that any inquiries would have to be directed to Au’some’s attorney.
Shubin believes companies need to be careful in order to avoid appropriation of their logos and graphics. Last summer, a small skate shop in Rosarito, Mexico was selling a range of counterfeit skateboard T-shirts. The U.S. companies were notified, and they all dealt with the matter individually. One San Diego-based distributor even went so far as to send a few of their guys down to Rosarito to “resolve the matter.”
Companies can take preventative measures. “Do something about it-because most companies don’t,” says Shubin. “There are only certain people you can sell to. Counterfeit products go on and exist everywhere. We know this happens in certain countries.
“Many companies sell their blanks or seconds to other companies, and that hurts the market, too. Sometimes we’ll find shops selling boards without shrink wrap on them-that could mean they’re getting seconds, because we sell everything shrink-wrapped. It’s happening. Sometimes our suppliers will sell them seconds, and put a Darkstar sticker in there.”
Dwindle has a policy of going after such individuals, but Shubin recognizes that not all distributors do. He’s unhappy with the Au’some Candies Skateboard With Gummi Sneaker product-disappointed at the “appropriation” of the Darkstar graphic: “I don’t really like it, because our retailers aand distributors, who want to be as exclusive to our products as possible, will usually make a complaint about it. And they just know that we wouldn’t do something so gimmicky with candy and Gummi shoes or whatever. “But I do like Gummi shoes,” adds Shubin. “They taste good.”
Dwindle management is currently in the process of determining what actions to take in order to resolve the matter.