Corner Office Piracy

Now, I don’t mean that new-ish workplace humor site but real, actual pirates in the world of work. For decades, now, companies have been concerned with less-than-honest opportunists pirating their products. Recently, innovators have found ways to bootleg themselves.

But how would you handle an entire shadow company based on the proud name of your organization? NEC had to deal with just that.

Counterfeiters weren’t just knocking off existing products. They’d created an elaborate manufacturing, sales and marketing, and distribution network that mirrored parts of NEC’s own legitimate operations. They’d branched out to develop and sell additional products not in NEC’s bailiwick. The packaging looked legit. And counterfeiters even carried NEC business cards.

The kicker? The bootleg products were “of generally good quality.”

What does it mean when a closet competitor can ape your approach and acumen? What does it mean when they’re actually doing a good job — not selling shoddy merchandise?