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  1. #21
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    Although I have not used the services of all the ones who advertise here, I would only buy from those here because of what they stand for and for the reputation that has developed here.

    This from an old time sporadic posting Kilt loving guy.
    Glen McGuire

    A Life Lived in Fear, Is a Life Half Lived.

  2. #22
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    Any company that can afford a web site can certainly afford a digital camera to take their own photos of their own products. Those that are too lazy to do so, being that they cut corners with photos, are likely cutting corners elsewhere, as well.

    Having been both a financial "have" and a "have not", I can understand that price becomes a bigger deciding factor for some, and I can appreciate that situation fully. However, between Google, Ebay, and other mechanisms already available to those needing to pinch a few pennies, the deals they need can be found without need for a seeming endorsement through ad placement on XMTS. I'm more than happy to read and respond (if I can) to user posts questioning whether The Rabble have any experience with a particular vendor. But to see a vendor advertise on this site, who has engaged in demonstrably questionable theft of photos etc., would be disheartening to me.

    I've had the pleasure and good fortune of dealing with several of the advertisers on this forum. In some cases, I've invested the equivalent of several months net salary, with advertisers here. Their reputations, quality, and service levels have been praised, and my own experiences have reinforced those opinions. When those advertisers know I was referred to them through XMTS, I hope it prompts them to continue supporting your excellent XMTS web forum. I hold them in high regard.

    In the price, quality, and service equation, we need to factor in ethics.
    KEN CORMACK
    Clan Buchanan
    U.S. Coast Guard, Retired
    Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, USA

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Ashton View Post
    Anyone can do a search of the US Patent office database. Steven Villegas was giving patent no. 6,282,723 on 9 Nov 2000.

    Or click here.
    Much obliged Steve, did not realise it was so easy to get over there. Cheers
    Shoot straight you bastards. Don't make a mess of it. Harry (Breaker) Harbord Morant - Bushveldt Carbineers

  4. #24
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    I purchase from the advertisers here exclusively because of their well earned reputations and the personal contact I regularly encounter from them here. I feel that if it is a question of funding the forum I would gladly pay to be here, If it is just a question of ethics then I would expect an advertiser here to be just that. I would like to believe that if a company had a picture of Matt Newsome's, Rocky's or Scott's work as an example of their own products, that not a member here would purchase from them. Nor would they be allowed to advertise here.
    KILTED LABOWSKI

    "I imagine a place of brotherhood and peace, a world without war. Then I imagine attacking that place because they would never expect it.

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  6. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Ashton View Post
    How about copyrights and patents? As you may or may not know copyrights and patents are effective only in the countries where they are filed. It may not be against the law to copy a design of another company, with a UK copyright, if you are not operating in the UK.
    ....
    I know and understand that these questions are of an ethical nature. Business practices vary in different countries. In some countries it is not only completely legal, it is expected, that one company will produce virtually identical products of another company if they are finding that it will sell.


    A company doing so is not breaking any laws. This makes my questions a matter of ethics.
    A delicate question. There are rumours that in some "western country" it is "normal business action" to claim a patent over something someone somewhere else has been producing in smaller (but profitable) amounts for a long time, but has not claimed a patent on. The original producer just has not had enough legal knowledge or funds to claim a patent valid in "that western country". So, there we are. The original producer is making and doing business on something he has no right to do by the law of that "western country".

    Maybe this has something in common with:
    Quote Originally Posted by seanachie View Post
    This question is a bit dicier as US patent laws are antiquated and out of step. Witness the examples we see litigated every day, with Internet trolls, "click and buy" Samsung vs Apple, etc etc. I think if a substantive argument could be made in the copyright holders position I could accept that. Can anyone honestly tell me, why UK has a patent and if they accept it what the rationale is? I am open minded, but being in the technology industry where so many crazy patents are filed I would like to understand this better.
    What I am trying to say is that while laws, patents and copyrights are to be obeyed it is not always easy to make a judgement what is the right or ethical way to proceed.

    A judge (or a person making a judgement) should always remember an old advice to judges: "All law shall by applied with wisdom, because the greatest justice is the greatest injustice, and mercy shall be included in all justice." Original text in old Swedish: "All Lagh bör medh Beskedelighet driffuin warda: Förty högsta rätt är största orätt, och moste Råden wara med rätten". This quote is from 450 years old judicial instructions still printed in Finnish and Swedish printed law books. (If you want to see more: http://213214137012.edelkey.net/en/E...tuomarinohjeet )

    The laws differ by place and time. What is seen as an ethical way to act differs as well, or does it...?

    Quote Originally Posted by seanachie View Post
    Would you want a company who makes or resells in one country, products that are under copyright or patent in another country, to be able to advertise on X Marks? No blanket rule, case by case basis see my rationale above.
    My Aye to this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Ashton View Post
    So, my final questions are to you, the members of X Marks.
    Would the membership here hold those who advertise here to a higher ethical standard?
    Yes

    Would you want a company who makes or resells in one country, products that are under copyright or patent in another country, to be able to advertise on X Marks?
    Basically no, but see above...

    Would you buy those products if the price were lower than from the copyright holder?
    Basically no, but... might end up not buying at all.

    To you, the members of X Marks, is price the overriding factor or do you hold yourselves, and by default this forum, to an ethical, over legal, standard?
    No

    Maybe this was a bit long detour but I think you are now asking something very essential for the future of this site. What I have seen so far I am very confident on your actions.
    My 2 euro sents.

  7. #26
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    Many of you keenly stated what I was initially thinking in regards to Steve's questions, so I will not bore you with the redundancy of repeating what has already been said. I will say that I agree completely and most closely associate my thoughts and feelings on the subject with the responses given by both Scott (Artificer) and Nathan.

  8. #27
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    Steve,

    Part of the appeal of XMarks is that the site generally shares and demonstrates values that are important to me. Change that and this becomes a place that is less civil, less ethical and less credible. Don't mess with your reputation.

    Interestingly, I had a pre-existing relationship with two of your advertisers before joining the site. I continue to deal with them because they provide quality, value, client service and I happen to like them. The fact that they advertise on this site says a lot about you and them.

    I don't make purchase decisions based on price but rather on value and part of that value proposition includes the ethics and business practices of the seller. That's why I would never purchase anything from America's largest retailer, regardless of price.

    As others have indicated, the realm of patents is far less clear. However, I don't believe in appropriating other people's intellectual property and I would really be concerned that a vendor who demonstrates those kinds of values isn't going to be any more ethical in dealing with me.

    Thanks for asking the questions.

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  10. #28
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    As a member who is ALSO an advertiser, I have to walk a fine line. I must often (most times?) keep strong opinions to myself for the greater good and not to be seen as "being unfair to competitors", even if I would think / say things if I wasn't an advertiser / didn't own a kilt company. In this post, I am going to 'pull back the curtain' a little bit on my emotions on certain topics. I hope I am coming across as respectful, but resolute in my stance on certain things. I am not trying to ruffle any feathers, but several topics covered here I do feel passionate about. I apologize in advance for the NOVEL below. Hopefully you've had a cup of coffee and can get through it, should you choose to learn about my stance on Steve's questions.

    I have been a member of the forum from months after it's launching 11 years ago and we were the second company to advertise on Xmarks (behind Scotweb). I view myself as a member more than an advertiser (though the opposite argument could be made as well) and I love this forum. When I log onto the interwebs, I do 3 things each time... I check my email, I check my company FB page and I check Xmarks. Over the 11 years this forum has existed, I have seen members come and go and companies come and go. Some of the companies that are gone were let go due to "less than stellar" business practices. That being said, the owners of Xmarks (Steve and Hank before him) have overall done a PHENOMENAL job of vetting potential advertisers to make sure that we only get "top quality" in the areas of product, service, quality, value and ethics. This forum stands as a beacon to those wanting to learn about kilts and highland dress. What most members do not know is that the owners have actively kept several "less reputable" companies from advertising here (and even from BUYING THE FORUM) for the sake of the members. Yes, Xmarks has been "for sale" in the past and Hank declined offers from 2 companies that did not fit his vision for what this forum could / should be. Eventually, Steve made an offer along with a promise to keep the spirit / vision of the forum intact and Hank accepted. I believe that Steve has also been made offers to purchase the forum, but has declined as well.

    Step back and think about this...

    1. This is a public forum, free to any member, that has existed and thrived for 11 years.
    2. Through this forums' often hotly contested policies of "no politics, no guns, just kilts", they have kept things civil and "on topic". Many (most?) forums break down into squabbles and flame wars over disagreements, but Xmarks keeps it civil and respectful. Love or hate the policy, it works.
    3. To the above point, this is a place where people of different backgrounds, with different views on life / incomes / educations / etc, can come together and speak about the thing we have grown to love: The Kilt. Whether it's a solid colored contemporary "Utility kilt" style OR the most traditional dress for black tie affairs and the minutia that exists therein, members speak civilly to each other and respect each others opinions and possess the ability to "agree to disagree" when things start to get heated and learn a thing or two in the process.
    4. Members here look out for each other. I have personally witnessed, several times, members offering items up as a gift since they no longer fit. No money is exchanged, it's a gift to a new kilt wearer who could not otherwise afford the item. As USA Kilts, we've actually received an order for a $1200 kilt package, paid for by an Xmarks member, as a gift to a young man getting married who wasn't able to purchase (or even rent) a kilt for his wedding. Oh, and I forgot to mention - the member never met the man. It was brokered through our own Father Bill. THAT'S the kind of members we have here.

    As a member of this forum who proudly calls it his "internet home" for all things kilts, I would say that I have a vested interest on a personal level (as well as a business level) to ensure that the integrity of this forum, it's members and it's advertisers, is upheld. I have a relatively high standard of what I deem "questionable practices", but I don't think I've ever overstepped bounds by any of my comments (and if I did, I would hope that someone would take me to task on them as I would do the same).

    With that in mind, on to Steve's questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Ashton View Post

    But what about cases where a company does not have permission to use the photos from another company? If an advertiser here were using photos from someone else, and it could be proven that no permission was granted, would you feel confidant dealing with that company?
    Would you want a company who uses photos without permission to be able to advertise here?
    No. I do know that it is difficult, especially for those new to "all this kilt stuff" to differentiate from one company to another. That is what certain market forces prey upon. Images are used (i.e. stolen) to represent a different product to hide the differences and make the individual shop on price alone. "If it LOOKS the same and costs 1/2 as much, the more expensive company must be overcharging me, right?" Not necessarily. Most often it's the case that the product with a significantly cheaper price is using the other company's photos. Does the average new kilt wearer know this? No. Is it up to forums like this to educate people? Absolutely.

    Is it overreaching then to have a kilt forum, with advertisers who can be held accountable, to forego allowing a company to advertise their wares if they are duping their customers and take that ability to make that decision out of the hands of the forum members? I THINK SO. Forgetting the argument (which could also be valid if Steve ever wanted to exercise it) of "it's my forum, I'll do what I want", if the general membership doesn't recognize a stolen image, but those in the industry do (Steve owns a kilt company and many of the members here are "in the industry"), I would wholeheartedly agree that they should protect the members from those advertisers by not allowing them to advertise (or pulling their advertising if they already do). It's kind of like a parent not putting candy on the supper table with dinner.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Ashton View Post

    How about copyrights and patents? As you may or may not know copyrights and patents are effective only in the countries where they are filed. It may not be against the law to copy a design of another company, with a UK copyright, if you are not operating in the UK.
    We have all seen the Utilikilt knock-offs that are sold all over the world. The Utilikilt Company holds a US Patent on their design. Would you feel confidant buying a Utilikilt knock-off from a company operating in a country not covered by that patent?
    Would you buy products from such a company and would you want such companies to be able to advertise here?

    I know and understand that these questions are of an ethical nature. Business practices vary in different countries. In some countries it is not only completely legal, it is expected, that one company will produce virtually identical products of another company if they are finding that it will sell.

    A company doing so is not breaking any laws. This makes my questions a matter of ethics.
    Absolutely not. IF I AM MADE AWARE (and that's the problem in many of these cases where the consumer is not aware before making the purchase) that a company is breaking another's copyright / trademark / etc, then I would not purchase from them. I wouldn't "give them a second chance" once they clean up their act. I wouldn't "test them" a second time. I wouldn't "see if things have changed over the years". I have seen several members start threads under the premise of "This company has a horrible reputation up here. I'll order from them and see if I agree and report back". I shake my head when I read this. Why would you risk it? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...

    At the crux of my thought is the real VALUE of the forum. If others have publicly posted (multiple times) about a negative experience, why would you not learn from their mistakes? If someone says, "I wore my kilt backwards today and looked like a fool and several people commented on it", why would you then say to yourself, "Hmmm... I wonder if I wore my kilt backwards if people would say I looked like a fool too. I think I'll try that".

    This forum exists as a knowledge database! Learn from others mistakes.

    In the same light, you have a header, side bar and footer, full of quality advertisers who are financially supporting the place online that you choose to "hang out" and chat about kilts. In the grand scheme of things, if people don't buy from those advertisers, the advertisers pull their money. In that case, the forum makes no money. If the forum can't make money from advertisers, it'll either have to broaden it's definition of what companies are 'acceptable (including less reputable ones) to advertise OR it will have to charge members a fee to join. Neither of those options seem good to me as a member.

    As an advertiser, I love and appreciate the fact that so many members ARE loyal to the advertisers here and 'get' the point I made above. As a member / advertiser, I often refer our customers to the advertisers here if we don't have something a customer needs. Supporting each other helps to support this community. It's the "buy local" theory, only applied to a virtual community where people choose to go.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Ashton View Post

    So, my final questions are to you, the members of X Marks.
    Would the membership here hold those who advertise here to a higher ethical standard?
    Absolutely. I implore the staff of Xmarks to hold the advertisers to a high standard. No theft of images, no copyright infringement, no stealing of tartan designs, no knockoff products. We need our advertisers to be innovators, not companies who copy and steal ideas / designs to make a buck. Support the companies that are promoting highland wear and pushing the industry forward to support the garment we love. We don't need advertisers who are here to exploit the industry for a buck without giving anything back to the culture.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Ashton View Post

    Would you want a company who makes or resells in one country, products that are under copyright or patent in another country, to be able to advertise on X Marks?
    No, with an asterisk. If they're made aware of the copyright infringements and do nothing about the issue within 48 hours (or ever relapse back to their old ways), they should be considered to be in violation of advertiser ethics policy and not allowed to advertise. Is is customary and "acceptable" to steal images / designs and use them as your own in certain parts of the world? Yes, but why should they get to play by a different set of rules from the rest of the advertisers who try to be more ethical? ALL advertisers on Xmarks should be held to a high standard and if they don't make the cut, they aren't allowed to advertise. WE decide where we set the bar, not someone with a fistfull of cash wanting access to our members.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Ashton View Post

    Would you buy those products if the price were lower than from the copyright holder?
    Moot point as I wouldn't buy the product at all whether it was lower, higher or the same. If I can't afford the "real deal" one that was the original non copied design, I will either save my pennies or choose to buy another design.

    Think of this like the stalls of knockoff handbags in SOHO in NYC or flea markets across the country. People shouldn't buy the cheap knockoff "Coach" or "Louis Vuitton" handbag. If they want the real thing and want people to see how nice their handbag is, why not buy a nice handbag or if you can't afford one, buy one that you can afford (but not a copy / fake one).

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Ashton View Post

    To you, the members of X Marks, is price the overriding factor or do you hold yourselves, and by default this forum, to an ethical, over legal, standard?
    Yes. My bar for this type of thing, as I mentioned at the top of this epic, is very high and I want others to do the same, so I lead by example. I run my company that way and I live my life that way.
    Last edited by RockyR; 9th January 14 at 08:10 AM.


  11. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by ratspike View Post
    As an advertiser I probably shouldn't weigh in, but I think it's okay for the professional photographer part of me to throw out his $0.02 USD.
    Ratspike... I don't see any "conflict of interest" here with you weighing in. As an advertiser, this directly affects you and your voice should be heard as well.

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  13. #30
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    I find myself having a bit of conflict of interest here as not only am I a member but a former advertiser (Robert Pel of RKilts). I will answer the questions and then provide comment.

    If an advertiser here were using photos from someone else, and it could be proven that no permission was granted, would you feel confidant dealing with that company?
    No I would not. On a side note what I find is that it may put into question where the original company got their product from as one may perceive that both companies share the same supplier yet one is offering it for considerably less or the other is marking it up considerably more. (see other posts above that have clarified this better)

    Would you want a company who uses photos without permission to be able to advertise here?.
    No This has been a constant battle for my company, and a big thank you has to go out to members here for helping me track the offenders down.
    Would you feel confidant buying a Utilikilt knock-off from a company operating in a country not covered by that patent?
    No. But given the reference here. In 2003 I was contacted by the patent holder to discuss this issue regarding one of my products. As a result of that conversation no further action was taken by either party

    Would you buy products from such a company and would you want such companies to be able to advertise here?
    Answered above

    Would the membership here hold those who advertise here to a higher ethical standard?
    Yes


    Would you want a company who makes or resells in one country, products that are under copyright or patent in another country, to be able to advertise on X Marks?
    No

    Would you buy those products if the price were lower than from the copyright holder?
    No

    To you, the members of X Marks, is price the overriding factor or do you hold yourselves, and by default this forum, to an ethical, over legal, standard?
    This is where my moral compass kicks in. If you will notice my join date (upper right hand corner), I joined the second day this site went public. At that time there were no advertisers. The site was geared to providing information, getting folk into quality wear. The members , and owners worked hard to accomplish that. (Rocky has explained it well, on the evolution of xmarks)
    Knowing what goes into making a product, I have a hard time supporting industries that exploit their workers to getting that product to market. I see it in our kilt related industry.
    So I have made a conscientious effort, to not support companies that do support these practices.
    In Canada a majority of the Highland games allow resellers of questionable product to vend, I have chosen not to support these games.
    As always the consumer can dictate on who they wish to support or not, and that is what it should be.
    Cheers
    Last edited by Canuck; 9th January 14 at 08:59 AM.

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