They are sophisticated syndicates , insidious as they are dangerous – both to local economies and importantly , to customers . For years , the counterfeit goods industry has illegally benefitted from legitimate businesses by making illegal copies of their products , threatening not only their reputation – but more importantly , consumer trust .
For the South African market in particular , the Consumer Goods Council of SA ( CGCSA ) estimates that the proliferation of counterfeit goods sold on the illicit market equates to billions lost in revenue annually . In fact , according to the South African Revenue Service ( SARS ) the illicit economy ( which also constitutes counterfeit goods ) costs SA an estimated R100 billion ($ 5.6 billion ) annually .
Local experts on law and tax say counterfeiting also has a pernicious effect on employment , as it threatens the survival of legitimate intellectual property right ( IPR ) holders who cannot compete with the prices offered by these criminal syndicates .
The implications of counterfeit goods are more prevalent than one might think . According to a 2019 report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ( OECD ), trade in counterfeit and pirated goods stood at 3.3 % of global trade . Since these figures were released , the limited access to physical shops during Covid-19 lockdowns drove the whole world to rely upon online shopping , to a greater extent than previously seen .
And it wasn ’ t just brands that pivoted to e-commerce ; crooks moved online too .
Online sales grant criminals a cloak of anonymity that has helped to sell fake products and pass them off as genuine . It is far easier for criminals to shroud their activity and identity online to gain access to global markets . Brands such as HP that manufacture print cartridges for sale worldwide therefore have to act fast to stop the spread of counterfeit goods – online , offline , everywhere .
E-commerce prompts new approaches
For HP , our means of investigating counterfeit goods would traditionally involve investigating the commercial and retail supply chain starting from physical premises . That would enable us to follow the trail from stores to a distributor and then upstream to a manufacturer .
And indeed , our investigations have been
successful . Between November 2020 and October 2021 , HP seized 3.5 million fraudulent print products , including finished goods and component parts , in circulation in EMEA , Asia Pacific , and the Americas .
We carry out virtual Customer Delivery Inspections ( CDIs ) and Channel Partner Protection Audits ( CPPAs ). Some 1,191 CPPAs were conducted in FY21 alone – an increase of 11 % on FY20 . Virtual inspections and audits supported the HP Anti-Counterfeit and Fraud ( ACF ) team in identifying and delisting over 224,000 illegitimate HP online offers globally . HP has increased the number of online delistings by 19 % year on year .
We also continue to use dynamic security , which ensures chips within products are kept updated with information that can help customers verify their authenticity .
For the South African market in particular , the Consumer Goods Council of SA estimates that the proliferation of counterfeit goods sold on the illicit market equates to billions lost in revenue annually .
Why it matters
Cracking down on counterfeit products requires cooperation with various parties because a coordinated effort reaps the biggest rewards . When
Yesh Surjoodeen , Southern Africa Regional Director , HP
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