Daimler says it has gathered evidence showing the supply of counterfeit parts continues to grow despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on world vehicle usage, echoing views previously expressed by Australia’s Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) and Toyota Australia.
The company said it began an increased effort in 2020 to combat product counterfeiters, with the focus on safety-related products such as fake brake discs and wheels.
According to Daimler, its Intellectual Property Enforcement unit has a global presence and works closely with customs authorities and law enforcement agencies worldwide as they aim to dismantle counterfeit production and distribution structures. However, due to the worldwide lockdown, numerous raids were postponed and many local courts did not sit.
“Over 1.7 million counterfeit Daimler products were confiscated in 2020,” said Florian Adt, Head of Legal Product Intellectual Property. “We initiated and supported over 550 raids by the authorities. This is a slight increase compared to the previous year, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.”
Daimler said that in 2020, the online trade increased significantly due to COVID-19.
“We have adapted our brand protection strategy and increased our activities to combat counterfeiting in online trading. All in all, we were able to have 138,000 fake products removed from online platforms. This is around three times as many as during the same period before the pandemic,” said Adt.
Earlier this year, the FCAI said “dangerous” counterfeit car parts were arriving in Australia hidden in shipments of parallel and aftermarket vehicle parts. An investigation by its Genuine is Best initiative found that 62 per cent of parts purchased in a test-buy programme were found to be counterfeit.
“Each of these shipments imported a part that could ruin your day,” FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber said. “The fact they were carefully concealed among other non-genuine parts indicates the level of deception these criminals are going to, just to hoodwink honest drivers who think they’re getting the real deal.
“We’re talking about low quality, criminally manufactured and distributed parts designed to deceive. We’ve done the testing and we know these counterfeits will at best leave you with major repair bills.”
In 2020, Toyota said it was working with the Australian Border Force to identify and seize counterfeit parts due to the growing number entering the Australian market. Fabiola Dos Santos, Toyota Australia’s Brand Protection Manager, said the company will act decisively whenever counterfeit Toyota parts are sold to Australian consumers.
“We devote significant financial, technical and human resources to develop genuine parts and accessories that offer optimal performance, durability and safety benefits to customers,” she added.