HP combats counterfeiting and product fraud in the Middle East
Hewlett-Packard Company introduced its anti-counterfeiting program to trace, track and ultimately beat counterfeiters and perpetrators of product fraud in the printing and imaging supplies business.
Within the framework of this program, HP joins the forces of its in-house business personnel and legal team with a global law firm, an international investigation company and law enforcement agencies. To protect its customers and the public at large, special reporting channels for victims of counterfeit HP LaserJet and inkjet print cartridges as well as of illegal sales practices have been set up.
The HP anti-counterfeiting program incorporates special anti-counterfeiting reporting processes. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), HP has launched a hotline and e-mail address, which can be used by customers, channel partners or HP sales staff to alert the company's anti-fraud team to the presence of counterfeit products. The company is planning to expand the program throughout the region over the coming year.
Leads reported are followed up by a network of anti-fraud consultants around the world. These consultants gather additional evidence to review and build a case against an unauthorized trader.
Once a case has been developed, HP decides on the best legal action to take in that particular situation—from civil cases to criminal cases, which can result in confiscation of products under police warrants and, in cases of successful prosecutions, jail terms and/or substantial fines for the counterfeiters.
Up to now, HP has tracked about 200 leads all over Europe, the Middle East and Africa with 85 follow-up investigations leading to more than 30 active enforcement matters, including civil and criminal cases. As a direct consequence, more than 70,000 counterfeit products have been stopped from entering the market.
The actions have led to many more investigations taking place around the world and to the shutdown of illegitimate businesses in the Asia Pacific region. Police actions targeted re-tail shops, distributors as well as unauthorized manufacturers.
In recent years, HP, as a worldwide leading player in the printing and imaging supplies business, has become aware of the in-creasing illegitimate counterfeiting industry that has developed around the world. Counterfeiters form a significant part of this and deal in objectionable toner and inkjet print cartridges in a way that suggests or represents that these goods are genuine HP products when this is not the case.
Traders often deceive HP customers and channel partners with print cartridges either packed in copies of HP original boxes or in re-used original HP boxes. These unauthorized goods are some-times also dealt in by telemarketers who may then hold them-selves out as being HP or someone selling original HP supplies, or use anonymous internet areas to sell non-HP products with the fraudulent intent to pass off such goods as genuine products.
To date, counterfeiting and piracy have risen to up to eight percent of world trade, resulting in $200-$300 billion in lost revenue, based on recent estimates from the European Union. Many of these fakes originate in Asia and increasingly in Eastern Europe. Production and distribution are a worldwide phenomenon also affecting the UAE.
“With regard to HP printing supplies, we noticed that counterfeiters are becoming increasingly active in the Middle East,” says HP´s spokesperson. “They are also using more sophisticated methods, particularly when it comes to packaging, to sell their illegitimate products.”
Illegitimate print cartridges, including counterfeits, are generally not capable of reproducing the premium print quality that users of HP printing systems have come to expect from the HP brand name. Customers, thinking they have bought original HP print cartridges, may end up paying excessive prices for inferior office supplies and/or print cartridges that may clog their printer—resulting in expensive repair costs, loss of back-up under an HP warranty or unwanted printer downtime.
“For optimum performance from HP products it is extremely important that all ink and media consumables are original,” says HP´s spokesperson. “Otherwise, users will not benefit from the highest degree of quality they can get from their HP products. Users are sometimes attracted to counterfeit consumables due to lower pricing, but what many do not realize is that they are paying for inferior quality that does not deliver the same performance as genuine HP supplies.”
As counterfeiting and product fraud affect other consumables manufacturers as well, HP, Canon, Epson, Lexmark, Oki, Olivetti Lexicon, Ricoh, Sharp, Tally and Xerox have formed the Imaging Consumables Coalition of Europe (ICCE) to monitor and fight the counterfeiting of imaging products. The ICCE is an integral part of HP's anti-counterfeiting initiatives and it is expected that the ICCE will gradually increase its activities across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “Counterfeiting and product fraud affect our entire industry,” says HP´s spokesperson. “So it is important that we work together to combat this problem.”
HP is a global provider of products, technologies, solutions and services to consumers and businesses. The company's offerings span IT infrastructure, personal computing and access devices, global services and imaging and printing. HP completed its merger transaction involving Compaq Computer Corp. on May 3, 2002.
HP has been present in the Middle East since 1968, and opened its Dubai based regional office in 1997 and has offices in Dubai, Ramallah, Cairo, Riyadh, Jeddah and Khobar servicing the GCC, the Levant and Egypt. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)