Counterfeiting: A menace to legal manufacturer and the consumer

BY: Arku Jasmine

Fake drugs can be injurious to healthThe world is currently under  siege of counterfeiting as globalisation and its attendant trade liberalisation have conspired to  create  fertile grounds for companies  to corrupt the global market with their fake  brands.

Counterfeiting, like pirates, is  a gnawing menace to both the legal manufacturer and the consumer.

Arguably, it undermines the profit margin of the brand and invariably blasts the loyalty of consumers to brands. But more tragic is the effect that counterfeiting hands to the consumers poor quality  goods which sometimes  are injurious to their health.

In recent times, counterfeiting has become more pronounced, widespread and intractable because of emerging technological advancement, particularly at the turn of the 21st Century which has brought about improvements in the quality of products and the rate at which they are produced.

However, trade liberalism which has facilitated the free flow of  products around the world and provided opportunities for the counterfeiting of brands and products allow such products to easily mingle with superior quality ones in an unprotected global market place. The situation has often lend itself  to suspicion among producers and consumers, making the latter lose confidence in brands they have long been accustomed to.

Counterfeiting  has been widespread and ranged from pharmaceuticals, including popular medications, electronic, detergents, food and beverages as well as ICT products and accessories. This has impacted negatively on  businesses and global trade through lost revenue, lower profit margins, damage to hard-earned reputations which erodes consumer confidence in brands. Statistics on the impact of global counterfeiting is alarming.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) estimates that the yearly global economic and social impact of counterfeiting  amounts to  US$775 billion. This figure is expected to increase to US$1.7 trillion by 2015. The situation, worrying as it is, has warranted proactive action to break the cycle of counterfeiting and the eventual sale of fake products and brands by illicit vendors.

Ghana has not been spared in the intricate and dubious trade in counterfeits and recently , the Pharmaceutical Council of Ghana  and the Food and Drugs Board  expressed trepidation over the brazen entry into the country’s  health supply chain of fake drugs which have even found their way into the country ‘s hospitals and clinics.

Over the past four years, Hewlett Packard Development Organisation (HP), the world’s largest technology company in printing, personal computing, software, IT infrastructure and services, has been fighting against the counterfeiting of its brands and products in the European, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. During this period, HP, in collaboration with local authorities, has conducted more than 1,000 investigations with more than 800 enforcement actions in the EMEA region. The result of these actions was the seizure of almost nine million units of counterfeit products and components.

The focus of this war against counterfeiters and unauthorised suppliers and vendors of HP products is on HP counterfeit print cartridges (Inkjet or Laser Jet). HP’s anti-counterfeit fight is against the background of the recent upsurge of illicit vendors of the Company’s products.

In mid April this year, HP launched its latest sophisticated security technology on HP printer cartridges, the Mobile Authentication solutions, at a live demonstration event in Accra with the goal of protecting consumers against the deceitful and illegal actions of counterfeiters.

The mobile authentication technology allows customers to tell within seconds if the ink and toner printer cartridges they have purchased are genuine HP products.

At the launch, Rita Amuchienwa, HP Supplies Country Manager for English-speaking West Africa, PPS, said, “Counterfeiting poses a huge challenge to brands and businesses in Ghana and many other countries around the world. Counterfeiters harm manufacturers and customers by consistently undermining business standards and practices.”

Amuchienwa observed that counterfeiting also harms consumers by creating low quality products with unknown chemicals which damage printers and could harm the environment. She also explained that the need to put a permanent end to the illicit activities of counterfeiters made it imperative for HP to the lead the way with awareness campaigns and innovation.

In November 2012, 20,000 counterfeit products were seized in Ghana alone. The company is always a step ahead of the counterfeiters by coming out with products that out-smart the fake ones. These products are noted for their superior quality and reliability and are sold at competitive prices.

Realising the importance of collaborating with government authorities in the area of investigation and enforcement, HP has focused resources on promoting and supporting seizure and enforcement efforts of the local authorities.

According to Amuchienwa: “Over the last four years, HP has conducted more than 1,000 investigations all over EMEA, resulting in over 800 enforcement actions (raids and seizures by authorities) and nearly nine million units of counterfeit products and components seized, consequently preventing them from being sold in the EMEA marketplace and beyond.”

Ghana is not left out in the war against counterfeiting. Recently in Ghana, HP and customs authorities successfully acted at the country’s largest sea port in Tema where officials intercepted three suspicious consignments about to enter the country on their way from South-East Asia.

In total, they seized nearly 7,000 fake ready-for-sale print cartridges for HP printers as well as about 13,000 counterfeit boxes, fake security labels and empty print cartridges intended to be used for manufacturing counterfeits.

There is still much more to be done, however. Through the efforts of Hewlett Packard, the Anti-Counterfeit Programme is drawing public awareness about printing supplies on the market such as fake cartridges leading to the damage of printers, interruption of work flow and  other related problems.

By Andy Quao