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Lexmark clamps down on grey products

Europe is a far more complex environment when it comes to monitoring and curbing counterfeit activity, says Lexmark's Mark Hiller.

Printer manufacturer Lexmark has embarked on a global campaign to clamp down on counterfeit printer suppliers and grey products in the channel.

The company is collaborating and communicating with channel partners to educate them about counterfeit market dynamics while advising them about the precautions they can adopt.

“Through secure partnerships with the channel, we are more likely to identify potential counterfeit operators and ensure that our distributors buy directly from us, thereby supplying resellers and the end-user with authentic Lexmark products,” says Mark Hiller, Lexmark International country GM.

However, Hiller claims the South African market does not appear to be a target region for counterfeit supplies, in comparison to European countries. This is because, he says, SA is not a supplies trading hub and has a transparent supply chain.

According to Hiller, Europe presents a much more complex environment when it comes to counterfeit activity, mostly due to many countries in close proximity, each with different market maturities.

“This creates a highly competitive and sizeable market, providing an ideal environment for counterfeit suppliers to operate. The increase in counterfeit supplies in the EU has resulted in the formation of the Imaging Consumables Coalition of Europe, Middle East and Africa (ICCE).

“This is an industry association that is fighting back through education, publicity, lobbying, detection, enforcement and the development of anti-counterfeit technologies such as holograms.”

Channel education needed

Hiller explains that, often, consumers are duped into buying counterfeit printing supplies because they do not possess the buying power and product knowledge associated with acquiring these products.

One of the biggest challenges in tackling the counterfeit goods problem, he says, is that many distributors do not realise the legal and commercial risks of trading with counterfeits and are unaware that they are distributing imitations. “Unfortunately, the repercussions can be serious, such as legal action, permanently losing customers and potential damage to their reputations.”

Hiller advises distributors to adopt a collaborative approach with original equipment manufacturers and to report any suspicious offers and activities in order to verify whether a product is genuine or not.

“From a local point of view, we are quite comfortable with the commitment we have with our local distribution partners in that we do work together to identify any potential sources of counterfeit products entering or marketed to SA,” notes Hiller.

Global counterfeit clampdown

Last month, Lexmark investigators and police raided a warehouse in Turkey as part of the company's efforts to remove counterfeit printer supplies from the supply chain. The warehouse contained counterfeit supplies for several printer brands, and police officers seized more than 1 000 counterfeit Lexmark supply items from the location.

In February, Italian Guardia di Finanza officers conducted a raid on a warehouse near Milan that resulted in the seizure of almost 40 000 counterfeit Lexmark supply items. This facility was being used as a repackaging plant for building complete counterfeit cartridges of multiple brands.

Lexmark has recently taken legal action against manufacturers, distributors and resellers of counterfeit toner cartridges that violate its intellectual property, with successes in the US and Germany.


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