Counterfeiting is a huge problem around the world. Forget for a moment the financial implications of having more than a $1 trillion worth of fraudulent goods being bought mistakenly by consumers. The harm being done in counterfeit pharmaceuticals alone is criminal.
Though by no means on the scale of fake pharmaceuticals, manufacturers of inkjet and toner supplies are seeing their own products counterfeited, and they are taking as much action as they can, conducting raids and working with government officials to try to eliminate as much of the fake products as they can.
The Imaging Supplies Coalition is tasked with slowing down the flow of counterfeits. Coalition members include Brother International, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Epson America Inc., HP, Lexmark International, Inc., Samsung Electronics America, Inc., Toshiba America Business Solutions Inc. and Xerox Corporation.
The Imaging Supplies Coalition estimates that the counterfeit market for fake inkjet inks and toners is $3.5 billion to $5 billion annually. Hewlett-Packard (HP) alone has reportedly seized more than $795 million worth of forged products.
David Llamas, anager, Global Brand Protection and Anti-Counterfeit, HP Printing and Personal Systems Group, heads up HP’s anti-counterfeiting efforts. Llamas recently spoke about the challenges being faced by HP and its consumers, and noted that HP has confiscated more than four million units in the Americas alone.
“These consumables are put in used or counterfeit boxes, and are sold for close to what we charge,” Llamas said.
However, the concern of HP and Xerox is more than lost revenue. When a customers buys a product they believe is genuine and either doesn’t work of it damages their printer, the brand’s reputation suffers. This is different from aftermarket inks, which don’t package their products in HP or Xerox boxes.
For example, Xerox Corporation announced that it recently conducted raids and prosecutions across the world, confiscating thousands of products in the process. Recent raids were conducted in China, Dubai, Brazil, Londrina and Turkey.
According to Xerox officials, Xerox recently seized more than 1,500 boxes of fake toner cartridges packaged as authentic Xerox products, from a Chinese manufacturer.
One method HP uses globally, though not in North America, is holograms. “They can’t counterfeit holograms that move both ways,” Llamas said. He added that in a recent raid, counterfeit Canon supplies were discovered because the boxes contained holograms; actually, Canon does not use holograms. Either way, getting the word out to consumers to even check these kind of security systems is difficult.
The truth is that counterfeiting is big business. For digital printing consumables manufacturers, it is a long battle to try to keep counterfeiting under control.