Fighting the fakes

Counterfeiting is prevalent in all markets, including our own

Published:  28 March, 2014

For some people, the best way to make money is develop a cheap product, brand it as something more expensive and sell it at a high price based on the manufacturer's name. This is happening all over the world in a number of different markets, such as pharmaceuticals, food, consumer goods and the automotive aftermarket.

Aftermarket companies are already aware of the potential problems and dangers - that fake products can cause. Marko Wowczyna, General Manager - Aftermarket, NGK Spark Plugs (UK) comments: "The presence of counterfeit parts through traditional distribution channels is minimal though the internet does open up the potential for infiltration. It remains a concern for OE quality manufacturers. NGK invests massively to ensure its products meet and exceed the exacting demands of the vehicle manufacturers. For our aftermarket customers this quality gives them the ultimate 'fit and forget' confidence in the brand. Counterfeit parts certainly pose a problem for the industry as their presence serves to undermine OE quality suppliers, wholesalers, garages and ultimately the confidence of the consumer in the independent aftermarket as a whole."

It is not just products that counterfeiters are attempting to falsify, data too has been subject to problems. In November 2013, Autodata announced the apprehension of a software pirate who had been selling large amounts of counterfeit data and other vehicle repair software.

An Autodata spokesperson said: "The seller had been the subject of intelligence gathering for some time, to have his operations brought to an end is a big plus for the whole industry. The fight against those who continue to put public safety at risk through the sale of dangerously expired, pirated software will continue as we seek to support the appropriate authorities in bringing these individuals to justice".

There is a lot being done to ensure that these products do not enter the supply chain and end up in garages or worse, fitted onto vehicles. Technology is helping, with RFID tagging, QR code reading on shipping labels and holograms on packaging - just some of the ways to ensure that only genuine products are shipped ready for distribution. Companies are also actively watching internet channels to ensure that companies claiming to sell brand new parts are not fronts for counterfeiting organisations.

Marko Wowczyna continues: "NGK takes counterfeiting of the brand very seriously and continually monitors websites for potential breaches of trademarks/counterfeit products. We have a proven process in place to take legal action swiftly to stop any counterfeit products we find from our own investigations or customer feedback. As a company, labelling, batch coding and product marking gives us traceability to verify if the product is genuine. Other more high-tech based options are under review as well."

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