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HP study illuminates booming counterfeit print supply industry

11 Jun 2019
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Businesses that purchase print supplies are in danger of falling victim to the multi-billion dollar industry of counterfeits and fakes, according to a study by HP and Harris Interactive.

The growing counterfeit industry is booming thanks to an increasingly broad supplier system, as well as a lack of buyer awareness about the risks of counterfeit goods, and a lack of certainty that purchases are genuine.

According to HP’s Global Anti-Counterfeit Programme director Glenn Jones, every key market indicator shows a ‘significant’ increase in counterfeit supply risks.

“For companies like HP, counterfeits undermine decades of focused research and testing aimed at creating superior ink and toner, and reliable, high-quality cartridges for our customers. For users, fakes cause a significant increase in print failures, low page yield, poor print quality, leaks and clogs, in addition to voiding hardware warranties.”

While HP may be protecting its own interests, counterfeit items are bit business. In the United Arab Emirates, authorities disrupted an international syndicate that was distributing fake HP and Samsung-branded cartridges. Authorities seized approximately 46,000 illicit items.

Furthermore, Russian authorities dismantled a criminal syndicate that had been wholesaling counterfeit HP-branded cartridges. Officials seized over 215,000 illicit items while raiding residential and warehouse sites in the Volga region and the Moscow area.

Harris Interactive points out that over the last four years, there has been a 30% drop in the number of companies that work with a trusted primary supplier.

Additionally, there has been a 27% increase in companies that buy purely on availability.

“With a broader, less trusted supplier network, SMEs are losing the ability to discern the authenticity of their cartridges with absolute confidence. All regions heavily affected by counterfeiting - in particular the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Africa, with almost three quarters of businesses surveyed feeling confident their purchases were genuine.”

Authorities in Kenya and Uganda have dismantled numerous wholesalers and resellers of counterfeit cartridges for HP printers, raiding warehouses, outlet stores, and seized fakes from a shipping container in the areas of Kampala, Mombasa, and Nairobi and confiscating 16,000 illicit items.

Officials in the Riyadh, Saudi Arabia recently disrupted a criminal ring that had manufactured fake cartridges for HP printers and sold the fakes in bulk, seizing 44,000 illicit items such as fake toner cartridges and components for assembling fakes.

HP and other print OEMs are battling counterfeit products by working with local authorities. In EMEA, around 12 million counterfeit items and components have been seized over the last five years alone.

HP says it has conducted more than 4500 inspections of reseller stock and suspicious deliveries for customers.