It's great that you were able to maintan your niche even though your product was copied. With mechanical things it rarely happens. If a mechanical product works and it's cheaper...sold! Harbor freight is a great example. Poor quality...dirt cheap prices. You can literally buy and break 5 of thier tools to the cost of one made in the U.S. The trend is consumer driven and the Chinese know how to saturate a market. I'm as guilty as the next guy...I'll buy things from Harbor Freight that I rarely use simply because I coudn't justify the cost of a quality piece.
There's only one problem with a patent!
It's only as good as your ability to protect it. (I may be wrong about this, and I know at least one attorney is a member of the forum...the guy with the cool bike?). It is not a federal crime to infringe on someone's patent. You have to fight it yourself, (BIG $$$). It takes time...By the time you win your case, the market has been flooded with the Knock-off product, and the perpetrator is long gone!
The F.B.I. wil investigate cases of bootleg items such as movie DVD's, music CD's,...etc. I think Hong Kong and the boys even tried copying Levis. It ended real quick! It's fraud if the knock-off is made to represent the original, thereby leaving the consumer with the assumption that they are supporting thier favorite artist, or brand name. It then becomes a matter for law enforcement. With patent stuff...you're on your own.
I've been down this road many times, both myself and with customers. The internet and globalization have made the exchange of information nearly instantaneous. This can be highly advantageous as well as detrimental. It's all a matter of "how" it's used, and unfortunately the technology is used by shady characters.
There is one recourse, a cease and decist order. This would prevent the product from entering the U.S. through customs pending further investigation.
This offers some relief on high volume, manufactured, items aimed at the U.S. market.
My clutch assembly is such a simple "fix" that I have no doubt these engines are going to be coming out of China with the stiff clutch problem remedied. I give it 6 months, tops, before every factory has incorporated it. I didn't do it to get rich...My design/shop customers keep me well paid. I had to repair the original customers' bike. I spent hours checking geometry prior to making the parts. All of the hard work had been done, so I figured as long as I was going to run the CNC, I might as well make some extras to sell. When he picked up his bike he asked, "how much do I owe you", and I said "I created a product from the repair of your bike"...No charge.
Oh boy, another long winded post!