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Counterfeit parts pose safety risks along with cutting into business success

Sunday, October 6, 2019 - 07:00
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Prior to joining the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) in 2016 as the organization’s Washington, D.C.-based vice president of government and legal affairs, Daniel Ingber served as litigation counsel for Feld Entertainment Inc., working on numerous issues related to its Monster Jam Monster Truck business unit.

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He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania, earned a masters from Johns Hopkins and his law degree from the University of Chicago. In addition to his varied employment in the business world, he also served as a law clerk with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Responding to questions posed by Aftermarket Business World, Ingber recently discussed the industry impact of counterfeit auto parts:

What are some of the key takeaway points on this issue, and how do they it relate to establishing an exporting presence in the industry?

SEMA is committed to helping member companies grow their businesses through various channels. As automotive customization grows throughout the world, exporting can be a great way to members to expand their markets. SEMA offers information and resources to help members determine if exporting is right for their business. Providing information and resources that help SEMA member companies export their products is a high priority for SEMA.

Why should a parts distributor or retailer be concerned about counterfeit auto parts? Why does it matter if a counterfeit part looks the same and safely performs (fit, form and function) on the vehicle, yet is cheaper in price?

Counterfeit products are fake goods meant to imitate authentic parts. They usually have fake company logos so that the good looks the same as the genuine product, but they are generally of much lower quality, so safety becomes an issue. It is in the best interest of the distributor, retailer and customer to only use authentic products.

It is useful to distinguish between “counterfeit” and “knock-off” parts. As described, counterfeit products are outright illegal, deceiving individuals that it is the real good. Knock-offs imitate the physical appearance of another product but are sold under a different brand name or logo. Whether they are legal or illegal generally depends on whether they are distinguishably different from the original product under trademark laws so as not to cause consumer confusion, or infringe on a patent or copyright holder’s rights.

Why should a repair shop owner be concerned about counterfeit parts? Why does it matter if a counterfeit part looks the same and safely performs (fit, form and function) on the vehicle, yet is cheaper in price?

The premise that counterfeit products perform safely is incorrect. It is not known what materials were used to produce the part. The part could include toxic elements including lead and it was probably not tested for durability or compliance with any safety standards. Why would a shop owner or consumer assume that a fake product is safe?

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