OFFICIALS from the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPO) join the Customs Office in destroying counterfeit goods at a warehouse in Bulacan in July 2021. Goods seized included fake Nikes, Adidas, Lacoste, Gucci, Victoria’s Secret, Jo Malone, Clinique and Dior. IPO PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Amid the influx of counterfeit products entering the country, a counterfeit trade watchdog has warned consumers against buying fake printer ink bottles.

According to lawyer Jonathan Selvasegaram, head of counterfeit trade watchdog React Southeast Asia, fake Epson printer ink bottles are now being sold online in many countries around the world, including Philippines.

He warned that counterfeit ink bottles and cartridges for Epson printers are made without quality control, which could increase the chance of damaging the printers.

“And since the use of counterfeit ink bottles or cartridges will void most printer warranties, the continued performance of printers based on specifications could no longer be guaranteed,” he said in a statement.

“In the case of Epson, the use of counterfeit ink voids the company’s warranty for an Epson printer even if the printer is damaged. This can be a big problem for consumers and businesses.

To cope with the influx of counterfeit ink bottles and cartridges being sold online, Epson Philippines has published a list of authorized resellers on its webpage at https://www.epson.com.ph/.

“Consumers can contact these stores and buy from them to ensure they are getting genuine printer ink as well as other Epson products,” Selvasegaram said.

The electronics company has also coordinated with various institutions around the world.

“The company works closely with organizations in the Anti-Counterfeiting Network, including React, law firms, as well as e-commerce platform operators to continuously explore effective collaboration and methods to minimize or even harm ‘totally eliminate counterfeiting activities,’ Selvasegaram said.

“This crime of counterfeiting threatens to increase the costs of doing business, erode consumer confidence, inhibit business growth and lead to lost productivity,” he added.

Record counterfeits seized

In the Philippines, the value of counterfeit goods seized by the National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (NCIPR) reached a new high of P24.9 billion last year.

This figure was more than double the value recorded in 2020, which was 9.8 billion pesos. In 2019, the NCIPR seized 22.1 billion pesos worth of counterfeit products in the country.

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Four months into 2022, the various government agencies have already seized hundreds of millions of pesos of counterfeit and pirated goods in different parts of the country.

In April, authorities seized 190 million pesos worth of counterfeit goods, including imported kitchen utensils, household items, products infringing intellectual property rights (IPRs), and foodstuffs, among others, in the city from Valencia.

READ: 190 million pesos of counterfeit goods seized in Valenzuela

A month earlier, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) had seized some 100 million pesos worth of counterfeit contraband during a raid on a warehouse in the city of Valenzuela.

Among the items seized were used clothes (ukay-ukay), shoes from well-known brands such as Nike, Crocs, Sandugo and other counterfeit items from China and Bangladesh.

READ: BOC seizes contraband counterfeit P100-Ms

“The era of counterfeit products”

React is a global non-profit organization that has tracked and combated the counterfeit trade for over 30 years.

“The sale of counterfeit products, such as fake Epson ink bottles, has been going on for years,” Selvasegaram said.

“But this malpractice has increased sharply – both in occurrence and in magnitude – since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, when most consumers started shopping online.”

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The sale of counterfeit items online has become such a widespread global problem that Wirecutter, a product review website now part of the New York Times Group, has categorized the current period as the “era of counterfeit goods.” .

A booming “global counterfeit market”

“The problem of counterfeiting is a challenge that is not unique to the Philippines,” he said. “It’s happening globally,” Selvasegaram said.

The trade in counterfeit products has also become a huge problem in Indonesia, according to Selvasegaram.

In April, the West Jakarta District Court convicted Amrizal Als Malik, a producer and distributor of fake Epson ink bottles. Malik was sentenced to one and a half years imprisonment and a fine of 500 million rupees or 1.82 million pesos.

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During the trial, Malik told the court that he earned 200 million rupees – 730,000 pesos – in just one year by producing and selling 200 to 300 fake ink bottles a week. He admitted to illegally using trademarks belonging to Epson.

However, printer ink bottles and cartridges are only among the counterfeits marketed worldwide.

READ: China continues to dominate counterfeit world as counterfeit market continues to grow

According to a report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), among the main categories of products most exposed to counterfeiting and piracy in 2019 featured:

  • Shoe
  • Clothing (knitted or crocheted)
  • Leather goods, handbags
  • Electrical and electronic machinery
  • Perfumery and cosmetics
  • Toys and games
  • Watches
  • Jewelry
  • Optical, photographic medical devices
  • Vehicles
  • Clothing and accessories (not knitted or crocheted)

In the same year, international trade in counterfeit and pirated goods amounted to approximately $449 billion, or about 2.3 trillion pula, more than the gross domestic product (GDP) of the Philippines in 2019, which was approximately $376.8 billion.

Ed Lustan GRAPHIC

The OECD and EUIPO also found that in 2019, East Asia dominated global trade in counterfeit and pirated goods, with China and Hong Kong topping the charts.

In addition to China and Hong Kong, most volumes of counterfeit and pirated goods traded internationally also originated from Turkey, Singapore, Malaysia, United States, Taipei, Iran, Russia, United Arab Emirates , Thailand and Vietnam.

“China continues to be the number one source of counterfeit goods globally,” the U.S. Trade Representative said in the 2021 Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy report.

Ed Lustan GRAPHIC

“Counterfeit and pirated goods from China, as well as goods transhipped from China to Hong Kong, accounted for 83% of the value (measured by manufacturer’s suggested retail price) and 79% of the volume of counterfeit and pirated goods seized by U.S. Customs and Borders Protection (CBP) in 2020.”

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