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ICCE cautions against counterfeits

November 9, 2018

The Imaging Consumables Coalition of Europe, Middle East and Africa, which was formed over 20 years ago, has been issuing warnings and advice on counterfeits and how to avoid them.

As Dealer Support reveals, there are a number of significant reasons why counterfeit imaging consumables are bad news, among them the fact that they “often contain dangerous chemicals which can damage printers, as well as causing serious health issues for consumers”. In addition, their sale can be used to fund human trafficking, drugs “and even terrorism”.

Despite this, counterfeit imaging supplies are thought to be worth over half a billion Euros.

In order to combat the use of these fake products, the ICCE has been offering “advice and support to dealers, distributors and consumers in the identification and authentication of ink consumable products”. Members of the organisation adhere to a stringent code of conduct and also “provides training to law enforcement agencies.”

Valerie Whitelaw, Brand Protection Manager for Corporate Security at Xerox, and ICCE member, says, “Counterfeiting is a multi-million dollar business,”. She adds, “Having worked with law enforcement agencies around the world, I have seen first-hand the human cost of allowing these illegal supply chains to continue.

“The best way to protect consumers is for businesses to alert the relevant authorities when they suspect they are being offered fake goods; it’s through co-operation that can we can protect consumers and jobs.”

Counterfeits can also be detrimental to OEMs as well as consumers. Nicola Consterdine, IP protection manager at Epson Europe, and ICCE member, explains. 

“At Epson we invest heavily into research and development – approximately six per cent of our annual turnover, or $1.3m (€1.1 million) every day – and a significant proportion of this goes towards ink development to ensure the printer and ink will deliver the premium results our customers expect,” she says.

“When customers see the Epson brand, they are assured the product meets the highest quality and safety standards in the industry. Counterfeits can diminish consumer confidence in our brand and are misleading for our customers who may be duped into paying premium prices for what they believe to be genuine Epson supplies.”

Despite the fact that counterfeiters can receive considerable prison sentences and fines, the scale of the problem is “enormous”, with law enforcement in the UAE alone having discovered caches of fake toner cartridges worth approximately $40 million (€35.2 million). In a bid to stop counterfeiters in their tracks, OEMs have been collaborating with police.

“Consumers don’t expect [to find] fake shampoo or a fake ink cartridge for sale on the internet or in the shops,” Chris Vansteenkiste, a cluster manager with Europol’s Anti-Counterfeiting Unit, IPC3, said during an interview last year. 

“Counterfeiters are becoming smarter. They’re not just focusing on luxury brands like they did in the beginning – they’re focusing on day-to-day consumer goods.”

The new head of Britain’s City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), Detective Chief Inspector Teresa Russell, commented, “Why would anyone subject their family and friends to something that could cause severe physical harm to themselves or their property, for the sake of saving a couple of pounds?

“If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is – and help is available to consumers.”

Part of this help comes in the form of advice from ICCE, which warns customers to look out for three “key things” when purchasing imaging supplies: source, quality and price.

In terms of source, buying “from a trusted dealer, or straight from a manufacturer, ensures that a reseller can have full confidence that the product they are receiving is genuine.”

As for price, “if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.”

As for quality, if customers report issues with the item, such as “leaking, poor quality printing or strange odours”, dealers must take “immediate action” and recall the product to review it. Selling such items can be harmful to a dealer’s reputation.

For more information, consumers and resellers can visit the ICCE website.




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