5 World-Famous Products That Are Shameless Rip-Offs

#2. Skechers Turns Charity into a Pissing Contest With a Knockoff Shoe


Skechers is the largest shoe company in the world, which many of you might equate with "the largest employer of whipped Vietnamese children," but we have to give them credit for trying to do things right. Take their BOBS line of shoes, introduced in 2010: They're not only comfortable, affordable footwear designed in the style of South American espadrilles, but they're in fact specifically meant to do good. They're ethically produced in developing countries, and Skechers actually donates one pair to children in need for every pair they sell.


But They Copied It From ...


Nope, that's not the same shoe from another angle -- if you look carefully, you'll notice it says TOMS instead of BOBS. Big difference, because TOMS isn't run by total douchebags.

It turns out that Skechers copied the whole BOBS thing from TOMS, the smaller company that introduced the "one-for-one" charity concept four years earlier. So, OK, now we have two companies giving away shoes to poor children, and we'd have to be jerks to complain about that ... except that it wasn't just the good deed Skechers copied, it was the entire TOMS business model.

BOBS seems specifically designed to drive TOMS out of business -- they're both based on the Argentine espadrille, they're both male names in all caps and, on top of that, Skechers initially priced BOBS two dollars cheaper than TOMS. The whole thing was capped off with a massive launch campaign that promised to donate not one, but two pairs for each purchased pair of BOBS.

The children were crushed when they realized it was "pair of BOBS" with one O.

Hell, even their slogan is "Inspired by the good deeds of others." If that was really the intent, why not start donating some of their existing products? Instead, Skechers seemed to go out of its way to turn a charity model into a pissing contest. There's no logical reason why they had to copy every single thing about TOMS, except for planting themselves as their direct competition. Look at it this way: Every BOBS espadrille shoe sold is one TOMS didn't sell.

While neither company gives out sales figures for their goodwill shoes, it's pretty safe to say that the $1.4 billion per year Skechers walked all over TOMS (their total sales since 2006 are around $44 million). If they were honestly trying not to be evil here, they're doing a pretty shitty job at it.

#1. Pixar's Finding Nemo Suspiciously Resembles a Children's Book

Finding Nemo, the story of a clownfish looking for his lost relative with the help of other sea creatures, is still one of the most beloved, critically acclaimed and commercially successful animated films of all time. If you've never seen the DVD before, then you simply haven't been around children in the past ten years or so.

And we hope it's not because of a court order.

It is also a Pixar movie. You can probably guess where this is going.

But They Ripped It Off From ...

Pierrot: The Poison Clown sounds way more badass than Finding Nemo.

If you saw that cover in a bookstore, you'd probably assume it was some cheap picture book quickly thrown together by someone hoping to cash in on a Disney movie and not-too-observant parents. That's exactly what French bookstores thought and the reason why they stopped stocking this book when Finding Nemo was released in 2003 ... even though it actually predates the movie. And, according to the book's author, the resemblance isn't a coincidence.

In 1995, a French children's author called Franck Le Calvez wrote a screenplay called Pierrot the Clownfish -- he envisioned it as an animated film and indeed managed to sneak it into the hands of some filmmakers. Unfortunately, no one was interested in developing the idea, so eventually Le Calvez dug into his savings and self-published the story as an illustrated children's book in 2002. At least that way he could get his story out to people, and hey, maybe some movie studio would like it and turn it into a film. Imagine the brick he shat a year later, when a film did come out and made millions of dollars, except his name was nowhere to be found.

Although the makers of Finding Nemo say they never saw the screenplay for Pierrot the Clownfish, there is a strange similarity between both works. Let's compare: Both Nemo and Pierrot are clownfish living in an anemone ...

Oddly enough, the book described Pierrot's dad as "kinda sounding like Albert Brooks, only more European."

Both titular characters lose a parent to a predator (Pierrot's father and Nemo's mother) and get separated from the remaining one, and the plot of the story is about them reuniting. Although the focus of Finding Nemo at this point shifts to Nemo's father, Marlin, the similarities keep on piling up. Marlin/Pierrot both meet a surgeon fish during their journey (Finding Nemo's Dory), along with other underwater characters, including a cleaner shrimp.

Who, even in the Pixar version, is extremely French.

Le Calvez took his case to court, where Disney lawyers unsurprisingly ate the author for breakfast. At the end, the judge decided in Disney's favor with the reasonable justification that Pierrot and Nemo are completely different characters because they were a different shade of orange.

Pauli Poisuo blogs at Year of the Fat Bastard and tweets when he remembers.

For more crappy knockoffs, check out The 15 Most Unintentionally Hilarious Bootleg Toys. Or discover 6 One-of-a-Kind Things You Won't Believe Had Duplicates.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 4 Buildings That Defy the Laws of Gravity

And stop by LinkSTORM to see who wears BOBS and eats Hydrox in the office.

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