Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Cold Steel Sues CRKT Over Marketing Tactics

Cold Steel Inc. has sued Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT), alleging that claims in CRKT’s marketing materials are misleading consumers into purchasing folding knives that do not perform as advertised and that could potentially expose consumers to the risk of serious injury. CRKT claims that several of the locking mechanisms within their current line-up are capable of converting a folding knife into a “virtual fixed blade.”

Cold Steel’s complaint, filed in federal court on June 3, 2015 (Case 2:15-cv-04166), alleges that this claim violates the federal Lanham Act and related California state law. The claim alleges that this is an empty advertising slogan, as CRKT’s folding knives cannot begin to match the strength of a fixed blade, and that furthermore, those same knives will fail catastrophically when significant pressure is applied. 

“Consumers are entitled to truthful information,” said Cold Steel President Lynn C Thompson. “They need to know what a knife can and can’t do. We are a nation of people who USE our knives. Responsible knife owners want to use their tools, and they should be given honest information about the performance, reliability and safety they should expect.” 

According to the complaint, CRKT’s statements relate to three locking mechanisms – LAWKS®, AutoLAWKS™ and L.B.S™ CRKT’s printed and online marketing materials include statements which include: 

Sliding the LAWKS® lever forward assures that the folder is a virtual fixed blade. . . .

Integrated into the design is the patented LAWKS® safety, which effectively converts the [knife] into a virtual fixed blade. . .

The AutoLAWKS™ lever moves forward automatically whenever the blade is opened and locked to assure that the folder is a virtual fixed blade. . . .

When the blade is opened, locked and the L.B.S™ is actuated, the knife becomes a virtual fixed blade, and will not accidentally fold while in use.
According to the complaint, these claims constitute representations that, when pressure is applied to the knife in the open position and while the locking mechanism is engaged, the knife will have almost the same resistance to folding as that of a fixed blade knife of a one-piece construction. 

Cold Steel’s complaint goes on to state that CRKT’s locking mechanisms perform “worse than many other comparably priced knives, and far worse than lower cost knives manufactured by Cold Steel” The complaint also alleges that Cold Steel is entitled to unspecified monetary damages caused by CRKT’s “blatantly false claims” and “dishonest tactics” about the strength of their knives. Cold Steel also seeks an injunction, treble damages, and attorneys’ fees. 

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