VeriFacts Automotive held a webinar on June 11 to educate the collision repair industry on counterfeit parts.
The webinar brought together four leaders battling counterfeit parts to discuss the growing challenge, how government organizations and OEMs are working to eliminate them and what collision repair professionals can do to protect themselves and their customers:
- Abe Jardines – Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center
- John Lancaster – Subaru of America, Inc.
- Teena Bohi – Toyota Motor North America
- Andy Forsythe – Nissan Group of North America
As collision repair facilities see repair jobs begin to increase, one concern is sourcing the parts to fix those vehicles in a timely, affordable manner that meet insurance carrier, OEM and industry repair standards.
The collision industry uses a variety of parts types which include aftermarket, recycled and reconditioned parts. Aftermarket parts compete in the marketplace, while counterfeit parts whose material, performance or characteristics are knowingly misrepresented by a supplier in the supply chain.
Unknowingly, some collision repair facilities may end up with counterfeit parts when ordering what they believe are OEM parts. According to the Automotive Anti-Counterfeiting Council, it is difficult to trace what percentage of parts are counterfeit.
To more effectively counter the flood of counterfeit/hazardous products by coordinating and leading the U.S. Government’s response to this threat, the ICE-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) has been restructured and moved into a new “state of the art” facility in Arlington, Va. The center operates in a “task force” like setting with all 25 partners focusing on Interdiction, Investigation and Outreach & Training to combat IP theft.
“We are working to promote national security by protecting the public’s health and safety, the U.S. economy, our war fighters, and to stop predatory and illegal trade practices that threaten the U.S. and global economies,” said Jardines. “This whole of government approach brings to bear all the regulatory, civil and criminal authorities of the partner agencies to fight counterfeiting and piracy. This approach lays the foundation to partner with Industry, other Law Enforcement Agencies and provide education amongst them and the public of the dangers and effects of IP theft.
“The bottom line is, can you trust the people that you are getting your parts from,” he added.
The Automotive Anti-Counterfeiting Council is a collaboration among automakers and their partners that strives to eliminate counterfeit automotive components that could harm U.S. consumers.
“Every type of part can be counterfeited, from keys to airbags, brakes, airbags, headlights and suspensions,” said Lancaster. “Not only do these counterfeit parts violate the OEM intellectual property, they can be incredibly dangerous for the repair professional and the consumer. We have reached out to law enforcement offices, ports and branches all throughout the U.S. and have found great success thus far, but counterfeit auto parts are a problem that requires more help…your help.”
Bohi cited several key initiatives the Automotive Anti-Counterfeiting Council is pursuing to address the issue:
- Increase accountability and responsibility of e-commerce platforms in preventing sales of counterfeit goods
- Marketplaces should promote consumer awareness and implement a simple way for consumers to report bad actors to those who can take proper actions
- Increase seller, supplier and product vetting to combat the presence of bad actors online
- Marketplaces should improve vetting of sellers, suppliers and products by implementing more stringent requirements that validate seller credentials and product authenticity
- Strengthen penalties for repeat offenders of health and safety products (i.e. auto parts)
- Implement standardized parameters and more stringent penalties be imposed on sellers, especially those offering products like auto parts that impact health and public safety.
According to Forsythe, there are several signs to look for when evaluating the veracity of the parts ordered:
- Labels that do not match or have conflicting information
- Labels hiding other labels
- Unrealistic production dates
- Poor packaging, nested boxes, empty boxes and shrink wrap
“Genuine OEM parts are properly tested, reliable and offer great quality,” said Forsythe. “Meanwhile, counterfeit or illicit parts are untested, have an increased potential for failures, and can negatively impact safety, reputation and liability. To protect your collision repair shop and your customers, you should know your source in procuring parts for repairs, flag potential counterfeit parts and report counterfeit parts to the IRC at www.iprcenter.gov/contact-us.”