Everyone tends to accomplish some degree of innovation but there be a decent amount of ripping off, usually motivated more by some rising industry trend rather than catalogue expansion. I like to refer to this more as inspiration as there’s more R&D and innovation involved with the Western companies.So the whole industry is just rip-offs? Not trying to be snarky, actually just a genuine inquiry.
Outside of Chinese Shanzhai it mostly boils down between the Italians and waterslide manufacturers. SBF Visa, Zamperla, and some of the smaller firms all regularly take shots at each other and larger companies. SBF’s new VISACOASTERS division recently launched, offering no fewer than 24 coaster products built on ideas from several other manufacturers. Or Zamperla’s switch track family coaster concept last year, which was released during the IAAPA buildup in tandem with Intamin publishing a very similar patented product, only for it to mysteriously disappear two days later. Intamin is guilty of this as well so c’est la vie.
The designation of knockoff is a little more defined in the waterslide industry as most of the major players steal ideas from each other, while Aquakita and the Chinese firms just blatantly copy. WhiteWater West is currently in hot water after a US court found them to have infringed upon Proslide’s patented FlyingSaucer technology. Make no mistake, they’re both fantastic innovators whom have supported a huge chunk of the market and produced amazing designs, but this door swings both ways at the end of the day.
The entire foundation and model of the Chinese knockoffs was to cater to local parks that wanted a specific model but couldn’t afford it from the west. Most of that business stayed in China and didn’t serve as more than a regional annoyance to the industry. Nowadays, Jinma has grown enough both in size and capability to become a threat, as their long term goal is to become a global brand that targets the same customers as SBF Visa and B&M. They’ve already made some serious moves by establishing Noble Rides and purchasing Wisdom, although rooting new divisions outside of China/in the US might leave them more susceptible to infringement lawsuits if they aren’t careful.