David Brush, company secretary of Epson, has warned small importers and resellers of the risks of counterfeit goods and the costs their companies could incur.
Recent cases suggested that the courts will crack down on those found handling fake product. The stock will be lost, fines may be imposed and compensation may have to be paid to the vendor. One reseller had to surrender #35,000 of counterfeit stock and then pay #15,000 compensation to Epson.
Fake ink cartridges have been found in large quantities since the middle of last year. Recently, #95,000 worth of counterfeit product was discovered to have been imported into the UK from Canada. The stock will be destroyed.
Commenting on the size of the problem, Brush said: 'It's hard to judge the size because the problem, by nature, is hidden, but the benchmark figure we use is about five per cent of the market. At the moment, we are only hitting the tip of the iceberg in finding these goods.'
Methods used to track down counterfeit goods include test purchasing in suspect areas. Brush said Epson had been able to take action against fake cartridges because of leads from dealers.
Brush warned that smaller resellers and importers should not be tempted to buy from the grey market to make a cheap deal. 'As soon as you dabble in the parallel or grey markets, you are putting yourself at risk,' he said. 'This is the cover under which most counterfeit products are sold. An importer or reseller trying to be clever could end up finding it very costly.'
See feature, page 24.
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