ICCE: Another year on the global counterfeiting front line (2019 review)

Standing up to the continuous flow of counterfeit printer supplies, many of which are cheap, poorly made and often dangerous, must seem a difficult, and, at times, a lonely task for those frontline customs officials and law enforcement officers. 

This is the reason why ICCE has been busy throughout 2019 organising and supporting a series of events across EMEA to help raise awareness and best practices among frontline law enforcement officers.

In February, ICCE supported training events held for the Egyptian Customs Authority in the port cities of Alexandria and Port Said with 50 officers. These events included intelligence updates, presentations on authentication technologies and how to verify labelling, as well as exchanges of ideas and best practices.

Epson’s Bodo Bredahl, an ICCE member, was at the events: “We have seen improvements in anti-counterfeiting enforcement over the past ten years in Egypt and we’re getting a lot of support from the authorities, but the country still suffers from a big threat of counterfeit products in the market.”

Customs officials in Egypt face a particularly difficult challenge once goods have penetrated the country due to the large numbers of small-scale trading shops that are a mainstay of local employment and the economy.  Egypt is used as a transit point for counterfeit goods, but counterfeits are also destined for the domestic market where they damage local premium brands such as fashion accessories and leatherware. For the full article, see our website link here.

Later that month, representatives from ICCE member Canon delivered a training day in Israel to officials from various enforcement authorities. The enforcement officers took part in the joint training, which included raising awareness of the types of products being counterfeited and recognising fake goods should they enter Israel’s main entry points, Haifa Port and Ben Gurion Airport. Israel is on the frontline of the fight against counterfeiting and is in a strategically important position as a potential gateway into Europe for counterfeit goods.

An ICCE spokesperson said. “The authorities in Israel are very sensitive to the fact that the money resulting from the sale of counterfeit goods is being channelled into serious organised crime.” Read the full article on our website link here.

In July, ICCE launched a video with Russian subtitles to help Russian law enforcement officers in their fight against the counterfeiters. The video was launched at a training event in St Petersburg, Russia, in cooperation with St Petersburg Customs and St Petersburg University of Economics, to raise awareness within the Russian law enforcement community about the dangers of counterfeit imaging supplies and how ICCE helps agencies to protect consumers.

The event also gave an opportunity for ICCE members to support the training and meet representatives from Russian customs and law enforcement agencies (see the full article on our website link here.

ICCE was also well represented at the Interpol Intellectual Property Crime Conference in South Africa held last October. The event was co-hosted by Interpol and the South African Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), known as the Hawks, which targets serious organised crime, economic crime and corruption in the country.

Paul WIlliamson, Regional Investigations Manager for EMEA was representing ICCE member HP Inc. at the event. “The conference reinforces the importance of IP crime and how seriously it’s taken in South Africa,” said Paul.

“It’s very important for us to build good relations with law enforcement organisations in the country and work together on cases, so we were very fortunate to have the opportunity to talk with senior commanders of the Hawks about IP crime.”

South Africa is seen as an important market for printer products and associated consumables such as ink cartridges. The conference focused on the use of intelligence and technology to protect IP, brand reputations and the public from counterfeit imaging consumables. (See the full article on our website link here.

Real results

ICCE has also been backing up its training schedule by sharing valuable information that has led to some successful raids against counterfeiters in the EMEA region with the result that thousands of counterfeit products have been seized.

For example, in Kandira, Turkey, counterfeit OKI packaging and 10,000 counterfeit OKI security holograms were seized during a successful, intelligence-led operation. (See the full article on our website here.

 Counterfeits online

One of the greatest challenges now facing law enforcement agencies is how to police a space where international boundaries don’t exist – the Internet.

Distributing counterfeits using online platforms as a route to market for fake products is growing rapidly, with shipments being sent directly to the buyer’s doorstep via mail or express courier.

According to the OECD, in 2014-16, postal packages were the most common means of shipping counterfeits and pirated goods. Sea transport made up just 10% of total counterfeit seizures, compared to 57% coming from postal shipments and 12% from express couriers.

For this reason, ICCE has been working closely with the UK’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) to change public attitude, in order to protect consumers, brand integrity, jobs and the UK economy. (See the full article on our website here.

Educating the public

Part of ICCE’s work in tackling online counterfeiting has been in educating the general public. The consumer is a victim just as much as any well-known brand that has worked hard to build up its brand reputation.

ICCE produced a video to inform consumers as well as the authorities about the dangers posed by counterfeit versions of well-known brands of printer supplies. ICCE also continues to work with a range of partners to spread the message, for example it collaborated with UL, INTERPOL and ICC BASCAP on the “Be Safe Buy Real” campaign during World Anti-Counterfeiting Week in November 2019. ICCE also took the opportunity around Black Friday and Cyber Monday to raise awareness amongst consumers because counterfeiters take advantage of this annual shopping opportunity to offload fakes onto the market. (To find out more, see the full article on our website here.

A new decade

At the start of a new decade, ICCE fully intends to continue its work of sharing intelligence, know-how and training amongst law enforcement authorities across the EMEA region as well as building consumer awareness.

ICCE will continue to inform the general public and resellers about the risks of buying suspiciously cheap printer ribbons, ink, toner cartridges and other imaging consumables. The trade in counterfeit goods not only threatens consumers’ health and the environment but also peace and security as the proceeds of counterfeiting continues to support organised crime and terrorism.

ICCE will remain focused on physical borders and also continue to collaborate at the international level to challenge counterfeiters on the Internet.

Finally, ICCE will continue to arm the frontline officers in the battle against fake goods with the training, knowledge and support they need to do their jobs.