by Amy Antenora
Managing Editor, aftermarketNews.com
AKRON, OHIO — Until the 1980s, counterfeiting was thought of as a victimless crime, conjuring up images of knock-off brand-name watches and handbags. Today, however, counterfeiting is big business, accounting for five to eight percent of all goods sold worldwide.
In terms of criminal activity, counterfeiting is among the most lucrative crimes today, its impact on the global economy estimated at $350 billion to $500 billion a year. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has called counterfeiting “the crime of the 21st century.”
The differences between real and fake products are getting harder to detect, causing serious financial and physical harm. Some of today’s counterfeit products can easily escape detection by the naked eye with their look-a-like accuracy. Yet, while the appearance of counterfeit products has improved in some cases, they only approximate the original, with no regard for safety or quality standards.
Industry experts warn there is an increased possibility today that dangerous counterfeit products could appear unknowingly under the hood of the family car or on a fleet of trucks. According to CBS News, the auto industry has found enough different fake parts being sold in U.S. part stores to construct an entire car, with components such as brakes made of compressed grass and wood.
The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) saw an opportunity to educate the aftermarket and heavy-duty industries about this critical issue. In response to the problem, MEMA in 2004 formed the Brand Protection Council (BPC) to help the association and its members address the issue and set priorities in the areas of counterfeiting, diversion, non-compliant products and intellectual property rights. The group has made impressive strides in its efforts to educate and communicate with the industry, media and government about the devastating impacts counterfeiting has in the automotive industry.
“This is certainly an issue that consumers should be aware of,” said Paul Foley, vice president of the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA), MEMA’s aftermarket segment, which directs the BPC. “This has been a serious issue that has cost American manufacturers business and jobs both overseas and domestically, but now it is becoming a public safety issue.”
MEMA and the BPC, in conjunction with Babcox Publications, have produced a supplemental publication on counterfeiting. The supplement will be distributed with the February issues of select Babcox magazines, including Counterman, Underhood Service, ImportCar, Brake & Front End, Tire Review and Fleet Equipment.
The publication will serve as a resource guide for warehouse distributors, parts stores, retailers and technicians in the automotive aftermarket, as well as for parts distributors, fleet equipment and maintenance managers, and service providers in the heavy-duty market. The full-color, 16 page supplement includes a comprehensive overview of the issue of counterfeiting, a glossary of terms, a list of crucial industry and government contacts and step-by-step directions on what you can do if you suspect you’ve come across a counterfeit product or a copyright, trademark or intellectual property right violation.
For more information about MEMA’s Brand Protection Council, go to: www.aftermarketsuppliers.org/brandProtectionCouncil.php.
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