The Real War Against America, by Brett Kingstone (Specialty Publishing Company, Carol Stream, IL, 2005)

Our local library has a subscription to Ancestry.com, the genealogical research site. Unfortunately the response time is slow, and one day a couple of months ago I was working near enough the “New Releases” shelf to do some browsing during the otherwise interminable wait between entering my request and the return of the results.

The bright cover of Brett Kingstone’s book caught my eye. I was not impressed by the title, which sounded Limbaugh-esque and evoked images of conspiracy theorists. I brought the book home, thinking Porter might enjoy it, but did not expect to read it myself. It didn’t sound like my kind of book.

Never judge a book by its title.

Porter picked up The Real War Against America in the evening and hardly came up for air until he finished it several hours later. It was obviously compelling, but why would I want to read a book that caused my husband to come to bed, spluttering with anger, at three in the morning?

But read it I did, and if I knew better than to read till nearly dawn, I did find it hard to put down. The tale of Super Vision’s struggle against international piracy takes place (mostly) in Orlando, and it was delightful to recognize familiar places, events, and people. Of the story itself I had heard nothing previously, perhaps because much of the action took place while we were in Boston. Nor were we prepared to find the name of a friend pop up in the middle of the book, a friend who though mentioned only briefly was close enough to the events to assure us that this is no right-wing propaganda piece but a true story, no matter how much it reads like a made-for-TV action movie.

Brett Kingstone’s entrepreneurial adventures started in a dorm room and eventually grew into the Super Vision company. If you’ve never heard of Super Vision, you’ve certainly seen their fiber optic lighting products, from Disney World and Times Square to the Moscow airport, from children’s toys to gigantic signs, from swimming pools to Christmas trees. You have seen Super Vision’s products, I say—and you have probably also seen the Chinese counterfeit products that nearly destroyed the company, the visible result of an unbelievably brazen scheme involving common thugs, company traitors, crooked bankers and lawyers, a bureaucratic legal system that favors the criminal over the victim, and an evil Chinese businessman who might have leapt full grown from Ian Fleming’s head.

I had never given much thought to intellectual property theft, beyond making a reasonable effort to respect copyrights. Nor have I had much experience with the American legal system. But just as Hurricane Katrina convinced me that the quality of local government really matters, and that nothing is an adequate substitute for personal effort and preparedness, this tale of untruth, injustice, and perversion of the American way has opened my eyes to a threat as dangerous as any scheme of Osama bin Laden's. Without economic freedom, few other freedoms can stand. And when legal victories are ultimately won by those who, like the “house” in a casino, have the funds to drag out the process until they bankrupt their opponents, what hope is there for justice?

Justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. (Isaiah 59:14-15)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, October 26, 2005 at 10:37 pm | Edit
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Comments
That reminds me of a story. It won't come as any surprise that several people in the radio club here in Rochester are long-time Xerox employees. One of the more interesting tales of lore comes from the early 70's when copiers were a big-ticket item reserved only for large companies that could afford the many kilo-buck price tag. Anyway, one of my friends was called out to service a Xerox copier. He said it sure looked like a Xerox copy machine on the outside, but when he opened it up it was very clear that it was counterfitted by someone who clearly paid bottom-yuan for its construction. He said he was surprised it hadn't burned the building down given the rats nest of inferior cabling, insufficient insulation, and undersized power supply. The owner said he got a good deal on it, though. Keep in mind this was an era when a fire extinguisher came standard with a quality copier.

Posted by Andy on Thursday, October 27, 2005 at 12:27 am
Apparently Chinese intellectual piracy is older than I thought. It has become much more sophisticated, however. The Super Vision counterfeits were (are) made not only with stolen ideas, but also with blueprints, designs and equipment stolen directly from the Super Vision factory and shipped to China. I suspect the quality of the final product is inferior, but not much so.

Posted by SursumCorda on Thursday, October 27, 2005 at 7:40 am
My company uses a part that announced it was going to be end-of-lifed, so we bought up a bunch. We ended up needing more, so our purchasing department went out looking maybe six months after the part was no longer being made. They bought some, but after we started using them (and shipping them to customers), I noticed something funny and with further looking it turned out our vendor (or whoever they got them from) had used even older parts (with known bugs in them) sanded off the label, and replaced it with a new label, so you couldn't tell the difference from the outside.

Posted by jondaley on Friday, October 28, 2005 at 9:26 am
Thank you for your wonderful and very insightful book review on my book, The Real War Against America. I apologize for the insomnia that I may have caused for your family but I am greatful for your review and kind words. I agree with your conclusions 100%. It is clear you understand the much larger issues that go way beyond the story of just one small company. Best wishes for a very happy holiday and successful New Year. God Bless, Brett Kingstone

Posted by Brett Kingstone on Thursday, December 15, 2005 at 11:38 pm
Thanks for stopping by, and for your generous comment. We wish you the best in your fight! I'd like to say I'm looking forward to a sequel, but I'd really rather you win without the need for enough action to fill another book.

Posted by SursumCorda on Friday, December 16, 2005 at 8:51 am
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