A couple Twitter followers took me to task for reviewing the Badass Workroom BA-31P:
IMO, I define a “knock-off” as an exact copy of a product designed to appear to be that product. The male chastity device market is awash in these. Once upon a time, they were fake CB6Ks and then they were fake Holy Trainers (replete with the name “Holy Trainer” stamped on them), and now you see fake Cobras and devices that look like Evotion’s. In fact, you still see all of those. And that’s just plastic.
In my original review of the Rigid Halfshell, I said…
All in all, their products appear to be knock-offs of Mature Metal and Steelworxx designs at perhaps slightly better prices (though it’s hard to tell with currency fluctuations and option costs) which, all by itself, would make them barely worth a mention. But. They have a PA security design I’ve never seen before and it’s really interesting.
And that, to me in today’s market, is where “knock-offs” diverge from “inspired by.” A lot of the stuff on Rigid’s site looked like things other makers were offering. And a lot of stuff on the BAWR site look like things other makers are offering. But in both their cases, they have taken bits of those other devices and put them together in new ways. Hence, the BA-31P. It is, in my experience, unique. As I said, a cross between the Steelheart and the Halfshell. Not either. Both. And by making that leap of design — a leap nobody else has made, AFAIK — they’ve made something unique.
It’s not a 100% straightforward issue, to be sure. Patent and trademark lawyers make good money arguing about prior art all day long. All I can do is apply how I see it. In the case of the BA-31P, we find a new and unique combination of past designs. Good enough for me to think of that as a new, legitimate thing.
A case that I don’t think is difficult to call is that of the metal “Holy Trainer” I reviewed back in 2017. This was a product that was marketed as a device from the Holy Trainer maker, but in metal. It was the same design, after all, so…plausible? However, Holy Trainer only works in resin. They don’t make metal devices. And this specific device was awful. It literally injured me. Clearly, this is the worst kind of knock-off, even though one could argue making the design in metal was a new innovation. Perhaps. But they tried to pass it off as being something it was not (made by the Holy Trainer people) and, on top of that, it was total shit. It could hurt whoever would buy it and that would, by extension, hurt Holy Trainer’s brand.
But then I think of the brass barrel lock used by Steelworxx in many of their devices. When I bought my first Steelheart in 2009, I was unaware of any other maker using them. Steelworxx could have been the first (or maybe they weren’t, I dunno). Certainly, it was a very uncommon feature at the time. Now, you find it everywhere. Rigid uses them, the Holy Trainer has it, the Cobra and Evotion devices use them. It’s, like, the default way to lock a male chastity device. As is should be. It’s better than a small padlock in lots of ways. Are every one the devices I mentioned (and the perhaps hundreds of others I didn’t) all “knock-offs” of the Steelworxx design? Of course not.
In one alternate timeline, Steelworxx could have patented the approach. Perhaps, I’m not a lawyer. And that could have kept everyone else from copying their innovation. But that didn’t happen and, I’d say, the community of male chastity device wearers are better off for it.
Another example is the proprietary screw mentioned in the first tweet above. Lori’s devices had them ages ago. So did Mature Metal. And so does Steelwerks. And so does BAWR. And so does the men’s room stall I use at the office. Custom screw heads to make entry harder is not an own-able idea. The specific design of them could be. If BAWR was making S-screws like Steelwerks, that would be a clear knock-off. But they aren’t making those. They’re implementing a feature used by many other makers.
The last thing I’ll say about all this is the aspect of BAWR’s offering I mentioned in the first paragraph of my review. I was able to order a fully custom metal device and receive it within one calendar month. I have heard from dozens of guys who have ordered from Steelworxx and Rigid, specifically, who have waited 10 times as long (or longer) to receive their devices. This has been going on for years. I assume this is because both of them are overwhelmed by demand. In either case, they’re reported to be very poor at communication, so it’s hard to know. So, in a world where the two makers who have been apparently damaged by BAWR’s “copying” can’t even make devices in anything like a marginally reasonable timeframe for the customers they have, it’s literally the free market’s job to allow someone else to take advantage of the unmet demand. And BAWR has done that. They make a quality, custom product that many people want and cannot get. Capitalism doing its thing.
I don’t pretend this is all black and white. There’s a lot of fuzziness each person can interpret their own way. I have long been an advocate of not buying the cheapest devices available and supporting innovative makers. I long advocated for Steelworxx and Rigid and even Mature Metal. I also am a big fan of the Holy Trainer and Evotion devices and the Cobra. These are all makers who have innovated in their own ways. I do not think people should buy $20 versions of their devices. But people will and do and they have their reasons. I am saying I would not.
I also acknowledge that BAWR does have devices that could be called copies of others’ designs. But, like Rigid, they also have their own innovations they’ve added to the mix. And they can deliver which I know for a fact their all-metal custom peers struggle with.
Steelworxx, Rigid, Mature Metal, Badass Workroom…a lot of makers have devices that look like one another’s designs. They all get inspiration from one another. It’s all familiar. It’s up to you what you do with that. It’s up to you who you support with your money. I have no issue supporting BAWR because they offer the one combination of features I have wanted for years. Nobody else does, to this day. I don’t care what language they speak or what continent they’re making them on. They put exactly what I wanted out there at a fair price and in good quality.
What else could anyone ask for?
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