ICCE Helps Protect Online Shoppers from Buying Counterfeits
Shoppers should be aware of important red flags to avoid counterfeiting when purchasing imaging consumables online (illustrative picture, showing woman shopping online)
Online counterfeiting rampant
A recent major enforcement action coordinated by Europol shows that counterfeiting is a real threat to online shoppers: Nearly 13,000 websites offering counterfeit goods or involved in online piracy were shut down as part of the 13th edition of Europol’s operation In Our Sites, which took place between May and November 2022. The participating law enforcement agencies from 27 countries also seized nearly 130,000 counterfeit products, among others including clothing, watches, perfumes, or electronics, with an estimated value of around 3.8 million euros.
Counterfeiting can also pose a threat to online shoppers looking to buy imaging consumables such as toner cartridges, ink cartridges, and printer ribbons. That is why ICCE members take action: Many of the leading imaging manufacturers that joined forces in ICCE monitor e commerce shops, work with major online marketplaces, and initiate the removal of illegal listings. This protects unsuspecting shoppers from counterfeit products and honest online retailers from illegal competition.
“ICCE represents some of the world’s leading imaging manufacturers. We take bold action to help protect honest businesses and unsuspecting consumers from counterfeit imaging consumables that are offered for sale online.”
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY DIRECTOR AT CANON
One ICCE member alone, HP Inc., has for example initiated the removal of more than 150,000 illegal online offers in 20221 across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. HP worked closely with major online marketplaces including Amazon, eBay, GittiGidiyor, and n11.com. Countries with high numbers of delisted offers included Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and Turkey.
Avoid Suspicious Offers When Shopping Online
Knowing some important signs of suspicious offers can be a key step in avoiding buying counterfeits online. ICCE’s anti-counterfeiting experts recommend that you look out for the following red flags when buying brand-name printing supplies online:
- Suspiciously low price: If the price sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Other signs to look out for include unreasonable delivery charges, an insistence on questionable payment methods, or other dubious arrangements such as a mix of free and paid‑for products.
- Missing or incomplete seller information: Be suspicious if information about the seller is missing. If in doubt, shoppers can check that key details about the seller are available, including contact details, company website, and VAT number if applicable.
- Bulk sales on online auction sites: Buyers should be wary of online auctions offering suspiciously large quantities of imaging consumables, especially on customer-to-customer (C2C) platforms.
- Unsolicited emails: Beware of unsolicited email offers. Sending unsolicited emails (often called spam) can indicate dubious business practices.
- Europe only – sellers from outside of the EEA: Specifically for buyers in the European Economic Area (EEA)2 and in Switzerland, ICCE recommends that they avoid buying so‑called grey marketing products coming from outside of this area.
Whether offline or online, ICCE generally recommends buying genuine imaging consumables only from trusted vendors, such as authorised resellers. If you have any doubts about an offer or a purchase, please contact our experts immediately and report your suspicions. You can do this in any language via our ICCE website at: icce.net/suspicions.
ICCE Members Tackle Counterfeit Imaging Supplies
In addition to combating counterfeit imaging consumables on the Internet, ICCE members work with law enforcement agencies to help enforce intellectual property rights. Recent examples include several major strikes against fake imaging consumables in the Middle East, where hundreds of thousands of items infringing brands of various ICCE members were removed from the markets.
1 Offers taken down for infringement of HP’s intellectual property (IP), e.g. violation of HP’s trademarks, copyrights, or patents; as well as VAT evasion. Figure also includes actions against infringements of relevant IP rights held by HP’s partner Canon, such as patents used in HP toner cartridges. Data relates to HP’s fiscal year 2022 (November 2021 to October 2022); for select activities, October 2021 through September 2022.
2 The European Economic Area includes the European Union (EU) plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway.
The Imaging Consumables Coalition of Europe, Middle East, and Africa (ICCE) was formed in 1997 as a direct response to the increase in counterfeit imaging consumables across the regions of Europe, Middle East, and Africa. Imaging consumables include such products as toners, ink cartridges and ribbons. Initially created as an industry association with a focus on education, lobbying, information exchange, and awareness, it has since developed to include coordinating the role of receiving and processing intelligence information on counterfeiters, initiating joint industry raids and enforcement activities, and helping its members to target counterfeiters through the criminal and civil courts.
Members of the organisation include some of the world’s leading imaging and printing companies: Brother, Canon, Epson, HP Inc, Kyocera, Lexmark, Ricoh, and Xerox.