We all know there’s little love between knife manufacturers. When you are trying to make a knife stronger, better, and more interesting than a competitor, there’s bound to be tension and animosity.
But Cold Steel is taking it to the next level.
In a press release, Cold Steel announced that it’s suing CRKT over misleading marketing assertions. Cold Steel says CRKT’s claims that its various locking mechanisms—including LAWKS, AutoLAWKS, and L.B.S—can convert a folding knife into a “virtual fixed blade” is not only misleading customers into buying poorly performing knives but also causing losses to their business.
Here’s more from Cold Steel President Lynn C. Thompson: “Consumers are entitled to truthful information. 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.”
So what does Cold Steel want out of this lawsuit? The company is seeking an unspecified amount of money from damages caused by CRKT’s “blatantly false claims” and “dishonest tactics,” which will then be donated to Knife Rights. It also wants an injunction, treble damages, and attorneys’ fees.
As someone who’s no stranger to the world of marketing, hyperbole is a part of the business. In terms of false advertisement, this is merely a matter of semantics. When CRKT says its folders become virtual fixed blades, it’s not saying that they become true fixed blades. “Virtual” means very close to being something without actually being it, according to Merriam-Webster. Whether that phrase is strong enough to trick customers is up to the courts.
Still, CRKT does have the tendency to embellish the strength of its knives, but pretty much every knife company is guilty of exaggeration and that includes Cold Steel. The astute redditors at r/knifeclub pointed out that Cold Steel has used similar terms tons of times. In its marketing copy for the Natchez Bowie, for example, it reads “the resulting blade it yields is virtually indestructible.” Not to mention the fact that its slogan is “World’s Strongest Sharpest Knives.”
Does this make the knives from either company less than worthy? Absolutely not.
As you might expect, this lawsuit has stirred up controversy and heated debates, with most of the criticism aimed at Cold Steel. Thompson recently responded to the brouhaha with a passionate letter on the Cold Steel website.
You can read the full letter here, but the gist of it is that Thompson can’t sit idly by while competitors make wild claims that aren’t true. He prides himself on caring for customers’ fingers and when he sees knives that don’t hold up under testing, he said legal action is necessary. (He also said he asked CRKT to remove the claim before filing the suit.)
Here’s a longer excerpt:
In my 35 years in this industry this is only the second time I’ve found it necessary to resort to legal action to get a competitors attention. This is not something I take lightly and for me this is a deadly serious matter. I feel everyone in this industry should be able to compete on an even and fair playing field. We all make products that people rely on each and every day, and there is a responsibility there that must be addressed. Empty claims not only hurt our business and damage our sales, but they also place the customer at risk, and for me that is not acceptable.
This will undoubtedly gain some press (as it has here), but there is some merit to Cold Steel’s claims. They made a pretty compelling video that shows how a CRKT knife will fail long before a Cold Steel knife, but it would have probably been better to point out how strong Cold Steel knives are compared to competitors without the lawsuit.
Check out the video:
What do you think? Is this another frivolous lawsuit or is Cold Steel doing the people’s work to ensure only safe and reasonable claims are touted by companies?