Counterfeit parts

Suggestions for avoiding them and their consequences

The parts distributor should be contacted immediately to check out any suspicious parts, adds Kadrich of AAIA. Distributors can examine the parts and boxes to determine if it is or is not their parts.

To help avoid counterfeit parts, parts buyers should know what intellectual property rights their existing and prospective suppliers hold, he says. Suppliers should register their trademarks and patents in the U.S. and ensure that they are registered in foreign markets of interest to them.

Information on taking advantage of the various tools for protecting IP, as well as other government assistance, is available at

“It’s important for everyone to remember that counterfeiting is a serious crime,” stresses AASA’s Handschuh. “While it may seem harmless enough to purchase a ‘knock off’ piece of designer luggage or DVD of a popular movie, remember that every counterfeit product steals good manufacturing jobs.

“In our industry, counterfeit parts pose serious threats to the health and safety of repair professionals, as well as vehicle owners and passengers,” he says. “A fake suitcase that breaks is an inconvenience. A fake part that fails could take someone’s life.

“The real key to fighting counterfeit automotive parts is awareness throughout the supply chain - and reporting suspicious products.”

Over the past 26 years, Congress has legislated a number of important tools to fight counterfeiting, says Kadrich. These laws have made for more effective enforcement and seizure activities, but penalties for counterfeiting and IRP violations have not been as aggressively pursued or accessed. (See Table 2 - Dollar Value of IP Penalty Amounts Assessed and Collected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.)

“While I feel the public and private sectors could have made more effective use of the laws, I am more confident going forward that the PRO-IP Act will lead to their fuller use,” he says. “I am bullish it will marshal more resources to boost the effectiveness and coordination of anti-counterfeiting forces, including CBP, the Justice Department, the FBI and state and local law enforcement agencies.

“I feel this way because the law ensures that IP protection will remain a top priority with a Senate-approved White House-level U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator. This is a permanent position and Victoria Espinel is the first appointee.”

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