To comment on cosmetic cloning, I would want personal certainty that I could properly identify the original. Who really was first? Many audio companies have come and gone. Others I may have never heard of. Ours is a global magazine. Statements such as these ought to account for all international markets to be factual rather than frivolous. Whenever I'm not absolutely certain, I prefer to not point fingers in this department.
Next, why single out Swans? Sonus Faber design cues litter the speaker landscape including other fine Italian brands like Chario. If lack of design originality were to address Swans as a Chinese company in particular, what to make of the fact that their senior designer is one Frank Hale working out of the US?
When it comes to loudspeaker drive units, China today is packed with Dynaudio clones, ScanSpeak clones etc. ScanSpeak even was Chinese for a while until its Danish engineers bought it back. Peerless remains Chinese. Add wholesale outsourcing to the East which gave away 'secrets' and the cloning phenom is a nearly foregone conclusion. But isn't much of this part of any delayed industrial revolution? There were times when the Japanese were considered nothing but copycats - albeit par excellence often exceeding the originals in execution. Just as children learn by copying, so do young industrialized cultures. Is that sufficient reason to discredit them? I think not. As a reviewer, my chief concerns must be: how well is a product executed; and is it properly supported to the end user.
That said, originality in our world does seem on the wane, cultural peculiarities which once were unique blended and diluted today. A Jaguar automobile looks like a Ford Taurus. McDonalds is in Moscow. This applies to everything. As a content creator who gets cloned daily—by blogs which steal reviews and news items without credit; by importers and manufacturers who use our original photos for their own websites without permission; with entire reviews of ours appearing reformatted on someone else's website—I perhaps have grown somewhat more inured to it all than I should. In the end, much of this discussion simply exceeds the scope of what I consider relevant to an audio review. That means not that these aren't legitimate questions and concerns. I simply feel they ought to occur outside a formal equipment review.