• Probrand warns over growing counterfeit IT products

Buy from only reputable trusted suppliers and genuine OE branded products. Buy cheap buy twice.

Businesses are being warned about the dangers of counterfeit parts and products creeping into their IT following a report from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), recently published.

And the recent death of Ma Aillun in China, after electrocution from a non-Apple USB charger, confirms the current threat and scale of the issue for IT “end users”.

The IPO’s annual crime report shows that IT equipment was among only a handful of goods which saw a higher number of investigations this year compared to last year - computer parts, electronic components and electrical goods were three of only eight product types which saw an increase, with electrical goods moving up two places to eighth in the list of top ten goods investigated.

Technology provider Probrand warns the threat comes from IT products that propose to be manufactured by a brand when they are not and some unscrupulous suppliers are providing these apparent branded products at much reduced rates.  Price conscious buyers need to be aware of the dangers of buying cheap fakes.

The business advises organisations need to be vigilant when it comes to buying IT equipment as the IPO report names high street retailers and online auctions and retailers as the top locations investigated.

Over the last year there has been a reduction in investigations into software and computer games due to a switch to internet downloads and an increase in gaming industry campaigning.  Probrand says that hardware is now under the spotlight with the IPO report showing a consistent year-on-year increase in the number of required investigations into fake or counterfeit IT parts and products

Businesses which risk counterfeit goods entering their IT infrastructure could be putting themselves at risk. Counterfeit parts or products have no warranty and could impact an organisation’s business continuity and even the safety of employees. 

A number of manufacturers have already started releasing online guides and even printing QR codes on products to help protect consumers and the supply chain from counterfeiting.

However, increased levels of complexity in the Original Equipment global supply network, and manufacturing in low cost regions across Asia and Eastern Europe, are enabling counterfeit parts and products to enter the supply chain.

Gary Price, business analyst at Probrand, said: “The counterfeiting of IT goods is a growing problem, enhanced by the globalised nature of the supply chain. Businesses are unknowingly purchasing counterfeit products and believing they are Original Equipment.

“The distribution of counterfeit IT parts or products costs both the end user and the industry greatly as fake goods fund crime and not genuine manufacturers investing in jobs and product development. 

“The IPO report is just the tip of the iceberg and businesses need to be more aware of the importance of buying Original Equipment and how to detect counterfeit parts if we are to tackle it.

“The message is clear, do your due diligence and only buy proven OE branded products from trusted suppliers.”

Probrand has developed the following six point checklist for businesses to ensure they aren’t caught out by counterfeit goods:

  1. Always examine the quality of the IT products you buy.

  2. Check a product has a warranty when buying.  Confirm if there are any guarantees or after-sales service.

  3. Always register the warranty. By registering the product with the manufacturer you’ll quickly find out whether the product is genuine or not.

  4. Check the product’s designated serial number which can be used to track the product’s authenticity with the manufacturer. Also check labels and packaging for quality.  Watch for poor spelling and poor logo printing.

  5. Check whether you’re buying from a trusted supplier. IT manufacturers normally have a list of approved suppliers on their website - by purchasing from these official partners you reduce the likelihood that a product is counterfeit.

  6. Does the price look too good to be true? The IT market operates with low margins, if a product appears to be exceptionally cheap, ask some further questions.

If businesses suspect that a product may be counterfeit, they should contact Trading Standards and the owner of the product’s trademark.