Search and seize

The trading of fake products has always been a problem for the Middle East IT channel, particularly as counterfeiters use more sophisticated techniques to make their imitations seem like the real thing. But vendors are doing their best to fight back and they are enlisting the help of the channel in their crusade.

Tags: CounterfeitHP Middle EastJacky's ElectronicsLexmark International Middle EastNokia CorporationXerox Corporation
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Search and seize Jussi Hinkkanen, Nokia.
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By  Piers Ford Published  August 8, 2010

Fake branded goods tend to bring out the mercenary in people. Bargain hunters will turn a blind eye to a product’s dubious origins if the price is right. And dealers sometimes see counterfeit items as the easiest way to overcome hefty duties on genuine imports or basic lack of availability of the hottest new kit. No wonder then that the most conservative estimate values the global counterfeit goods market at US$750 billion.

Counterfeit brands are a global challenge for vendors and despite the mountain they face in attempting to stem the flow — and its impact on revenues, not to mention customer experience — there is now a huge international effort to combat the problem.

In the Middle East, essentially a microcosm of the world counterfeit market, the challenge is acute. Throughout the region, demand for cheaper electronics and consumables — particularly ink cartridges and toner — is so intense that vendors are having to look very closely at the integrity of their supply chain to minimise infiltration by fake offerings.

Some customers are also rebelling against the prevailing trend. In one recent case, the suspicious purchaser of a Sony PlayStation lodged a complaint with the police against a Dubai retailer, which eventually exposed the systematic trading of fake PlayStations, memory cards and controllers — often, according to one salesperson, with the complicity of customers themselves — and led to prosecution.

Cases like this suggest a shift in attitude in the region, which is pushing up the rate of counterfeit seizures, to vendors’ delight.

“The reason for the increased number of seizures in the Middle East versus Europe and Africa is due to the increased vigilance of authorities in the region who are stepping up their crackdown on counterfeit supplies,” says Amin Mortazavi, general manager of HP’s Middle East Imaging and Printing Group.

“Firstly, the results are down to important work done by HP Middle East, which includes its anti-counterfeit awareness campaign, working together with the UAE authorities to highlight the issue of counterfeiting and to create awareness about this important topic. Secondly, the results are due to an increased emphasis placed by the UAE authorities to employ superior methods and manpower in the fight against it.”

Mohammed Ali Addarrat, general manager for the Middle East at Lexmark (main picture), believes that by raising awareness of counterfeiting, vendors will be able to get on top of the problem, especially if government authorities in the region continue to put stronger enforcement policies in place.

“We are trying to interact more with the end-users directly rather than relying on mass communications,” he explains. “Where we are still finding problems is in areas where we don’t have a physical channel presence on a regular basis, but then that is to be expected.”

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