HP fights Middle East cartridge counterfeiters

Enforcement actions confiscate more than 115,000 fake ink cartridges since November

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By  Julian Pletts Published  April 16, 2009

HP has called on the channel to remain alert to the threat of counterfeit consumables in the market after revealing that enforcement actions in Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia have yielded more than 115,000 fake ink cartridges over the last few months.

The production and resale of counterfeit cartridges and components remains a major issue for printing vendors in the Middle East and results in millions of dollars of lost revenue for authorised channel partners.

HP seized in excess of 700,000 illegitimate cartridges from the Middle East last year and a further 90,000 fake boxes and packaging materials.

In a visit to the region this week, Tina Rose, EMEA anti-counterfeit programme manager for supplies aftermarket sales at HP, admitted that print cartridge counterfeiting was “especially rampant” in the Middle East and urged partners to remain vigilant.

“Particularly now when times are a bit tougher than they were a year ago, which affects their businesses, if partners hear about it or see evidence of [counterfeiting] themselves they need to contact us by the various methods available or contact the HP IPG people here, who can then contact us,” she explained.

Over the past year, HP has carried out almost 70 unannounced audits of partner showrooms and warehouses, discovering counterfeit items during seven of those. It has also conducted 73 investigations in the Middle East and worked with local authorities to launch raids on illegal counterfeit logistics operations.

The vendor requires authorised resellers to belong to its Anti-Counterfeit Programme (ACF), which presents them with a direct communication line to report illegal activity in the channel or market place.

The scale of counterfeiting in the region remains huge. In November last year, HP intercepted two shipments in Saudi Arabia containing almost 17,000 fake laser printing cartridges, while a month later it seized 21,000 fake ink cartridges, 10,000 counterfeit laser cartridges and 1,000 empty laser cartridges after raiding eight IT stores in Yemen.

In January of this year, meanwhile, it stumbled upon 28,000 finished fake inkjet cartridges, 39,000 finished laser cartridges and 50,000 flat laser boxes at a warehouse in Jeddah.

Rose says partners can limit their chances of handling counterfeit goods by ensuring they only purchase products from HP-authorised distribution channels.

“The most important thing for the channel is to make sure that they are buying from a key source, we have got enough checks in place to help them guarantee they are buying the genuine item. Be absolutely sure of who you are buying from,” she advised.

Faisal Jamal, COO at supplies and consumables distributor Despec MERA, said HP had only just begun “scratching the surface” of counterfeiting in the Middle East but welcomed the steps being taken.

“It is not only about counterfeit, but low-quality imitations that are in the market,” said Jamal. “What HP has done is good compared to other vendors, they have really made the first effort in developing big anti-counterfeit programmes. The second stage is education. They have done the raids, which have been very good, but they now need to educate so that more people are aware of the issue.”

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