Steve Parks marched across the show floor. The 10th-degree black belt and Strike King Lures designer was angry. Someone had infringed on his patent, he said—and under the bright lights of ICAST, he was going to confront the perpetrators.
“It happened the first day I was here,” Parks tells. “One of my buyer groups came up and told me that the Rage Tail Craw was in the New Product Showcase.”
Parks, who’s been manufacturing Rage Tail products with Strike King since 2006, knew that didn’t add up.
That’s when he decided to take action.
After being denied entry into the New Product Showcase, Parks went to the ICAST offices, patent in-hand, and met with the American Sportfishing Association’s on-site legal counsel. The lure, Parks told them, was an exact duplicate. Together, Parks, Strike King officials and the buying group collaborated with ICAST officials to determine the manufacturer of the product, Shanghai-based Headstream Tackle.
That’s when his march began, and when he arrived at their booth, he found a surprise.
“They recognized me, of course,” Parks says. “And I also recognized them—they had been in our booth last year, asking us if we wanted to do business with them. I told them, ‘I remember you. I remember you coming into our booth, and you asked us if we wanted to do business with you.”
According to Parks, Headstream exhibitors met with Strike King in 2016, and while one exhibitor talked shop with his team, others took photos of the products in their booth. One year later, Headstream entered the “Rage Tail Craw” into the 2017 ICAST New Product Showcase.
“I was steamed,” the 5-time martial arts hall of famer says. “One of them grabbed me by the arm, and I told him that this wasn’t the time nor the place. For a second, I thought this could get ugly.”
What ultimately transpired was a lesson in American patent law, resulting in the confiscation of Headstream’s Rage Tail Craw products, and bags of Rage Bugs and Rage Tail Minnows. Parks personally escorted Headstream exhibitors to the New Product Showcase, and watched them remove the Rage Tail Craw from display.
In addition to Rage Tail products, Parks also discovered replicas of soft plastics from Zoom, YUM, and NetBait at the Headstream booth. “I don’t care if it’s one of our biggest competitors,” he adds. “This sort of thing should not happen, and this kind of outfit should not be allowed at ICAST. It’s the perfect example of what shouldn’t happen in our industry, ever, and it brings a bad name to our industry.”
Headstream exhibitor Chen Lou says the company has no plans to retail the products, and was simply demonstrating how they can work with OEM for manufacturers. The company is owned by the Hainan Zhongxin Wanguo Chemical Co., Ltd, which provides products from animal feed to paints and mining products.
“I can’t believe anybody would actually do this,” Parks says. “It’s hard to believe. They infringed on our trademarks and copyrights across international borders. Then, they put a product with our name on it in the New Product Showcase. That shouldn’t happen.”
Parks says Headstream—and companies like them—should be banned from ICAST. “They fleeced us,” he says. “We tried to follow-up with them after last year. We sent emails, and we called them with no response.”