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Counterfeiters target UAE, Saudi Arabia

HP says counterfeiting kills 200,000 jobs a year in EMEA region

Counterfeiters target UAE, Saudi Arabia
HP and Dubai Police have revealed that counterfeiters are no longer bringing in complete fake products, but are rather bringing in the components and assembling them in the UAE.

Dubai Police and HP said they have no idea who is behind the counterfeiting wave that is currently hitting both the UAE and Saudi Arabia, but many of the counterfeit goods hail from China.

"Basically counterfeiting is a serious problem not only in the UAE but across the Middle East and not only here, but in the whole EMEA region. Definitely one of the hotspots is here because the UAE is a kind of hub to transport the products which are mostly coming from the Asian world into the European community," said Andrea Gebhard, LaserJet Supplies, Imaging and Printing Group, MEMA region.

Saudi Arabia has also become a hotspot for counterfeit goods, because of its growing stature as a business hub. According to Amin Mortazavi, general manager, Imaging and Printing Group MEMA, the more business activity that is occurring, the more counterfeiting will occur. He said that there have been some very large seizures of counterfeit goods in Saudi Arabia in the last 12 months.

"Wherever you have an emerging market where you see market growth, there is market growth for everybody; of course this also provides a ground for those people that are into counterfeiting. If you look at other trade hubs, business hubs across the globe, wherever you see the combination of trade hub and growing economy, you will see counterfeiters," he said.

Mortazavi added that counterfeiters are no longer bringing completed counterfeit products into the UAE, but rather bringing in components and parts to be assembled inside the UAE. The reason behind this, according to HP is that the Dubai law enforcement authorities have become better trained at spotting counterfeits.

This means that it has become difficult for counterfeiters to expand their businesses in the region. HP began working with the Dubai Police in 2006 and is continuing to work very closely with the Dubai Customs and the Dubai police to identify counterfeit goods.

"I remember from past seizures we found finished goods, but now days you see components coming into the region and getting assembled here. That can only mean that local customs authorities have a much better awareness and are really after counterfeiters, so to bypass and smuggle the counterfeit goods they bring in only bits and pieces and parts and then assemble it here," he said.

Counterfeiting is classed as a criminal act in the UAE as the creators of counterfeit products are trying to pass products off as the real thing and generally charge the same prices for the fake products as an official company would charge for a genuine product. Counterfeiters also attempt to get the products to look as close to the genuine originals as possible.

"You are making your customer believe they are buying genuine products which is not the case and this can go all the way and end up being fatal if the customer is buying counterfeit or fake. For example, automotive parts, but it is also true for the printers because as a counterfeiter, [counterfeits] can harm the printer and harm the business," said Fayez Abdel Moneim Ibrahim, document checking expert at the Forensic and Criminology Department of Dubai Police.

The company also warned that  chemicals used by counterfeiters inside fake HP products, ink for example, could be made of toxic materials.

"Culturally people think ‘it looks the same it will work', ‘it is cheaper, why do I have to take the original', so the danger lies in the components that are used in manufacturing, even if you think about ink and toner, there can be dangerous components in that and then a kid puts it in his mouth and get poisoned and people don't think about that when they go and try to get a cheaper product," said Ernest Azzam, business manager, Laser and Enterprise Solutions, HP Middle East.

It is not only people that can be harmed by fake HP products, but they can damage the printers and office solutions they are used in and cost businesses money.

"The damage which is done to the global economy by counterfeiting is an estimated $775bn and this is estimated to go up by 2015 to $1.7trn and currently killing 200,000 jobs a year in EMEA and estimated up to 800,000 jobs around the globe. It eats up to between 5% and 8% of the global economy and this is the damage that is done to corporations, to customers, to companies," said Mortazavi.

According to HP, the company is in constant development to find ways to stop counterfeiters.

"I think we are further ahead of them because 100% of the research and development is done in house, so we invest a lot, millions and millions every year, to enhance our products and how we differentiate our products from the counterfeit," said Mortazavi.

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