Strong Anti-Counterfeiting Efforts Help Protect Xerox Customers
Xerox Corporation invests millions of dollars in research and expertise to produce top-quality toner cartridges and other supplies that help its customers make great documents. So when counterfeiters attempt to manufacture supplies for Xerox printers and sell them as bona fide Xerox products, the company is quick to take action.
Xerox's strong anti-counterfeiting programs are designed to not only protect Xerox's investments in innovation and reputation for quality, but more important, to protect Xerox customers.
"Counterfeiters do not worry about Xerox's product standards," says Randall Nelson, Xerox's general manager for consumables brand protection. "So customers who buy counterfeit cartridges often end up with poor image quality or substandard performance from their printer."
"If we let counterfeiters get away with it," says George Parry, Xerox's security manager for brand protection, "they'd create havoc in the marketplace -- and cost our customers time and money."
So how does Xerox fight the criminal efforts of counterfeiters? The company has several programs in play to deter counterfeiting, ranging from how it packages its products to how it conducts in-depth investigations aided by law-enforcement resources.
Investigations usually start with customer complaints. For example, in 2006, customers in South Africa complained that something was wrong with their toner cartridges. They thought they had purchased new toner but it looked like the cartridges had only been refilled.
So Xerox purchased cartridges from local suppliers and sent them to Xerox labs for authentication testing. The results showed that the cartridges had indeed been refilled -- with counterfeit toner.
Xerox sent letters to the resellers demanding that they stop selling the counterfeit cartridges. And as the investigation unfurled, Xerox located the suppliers in Asia who made counterfeit Xerox boxes and filled them with fake toner cartridges, and the company in Africa that provided the cartridges. Xerox investigators in Africa then gathered the evidence that supported counterfeiting and trademark infringement, and they filed a complaint with the local police.
"An airtight case was packaged by our brand protection security manager in the U.K. and presented to the police," Parry says. "That made it very easy for them to pursue the case."
Machinery, computer hard drives and company records were seized along with thousands of cartridges worth millions. A criminal case against the owner is pending.
Admittedly, fighting counterfeiters is no easy task. If you do nothing about the problem, the stolen and counterfeit goods will flood the market. If you do something about it, the crooks get more sophisticated and they’re harder to track down.
"But," Nelson says, "the ideal state is to make it tougher for them."
Parry agrees. "Sooner or later, it becomes too difficult to operate with Xerox products, and the crooks move to easier targets."
The effort is truly global. Nelson's group works with Xerox organizations from around the world including supply chain, manufacturing, research, product development, and sales. "We use a lot of resources without adding very much cost, and the payback is huge," Nelson says.
There's no question that Parry's and Nelson's jobs pay off. When counterfeiters are shut down, the revenue they stole comes back to Xerox along with the customers' good will. Says Parry: "The more we get into this, the more black market manufacturers and distribution channels we identify. We are getting a lot, lot better -- and aim to continue leading the charge against counterfeiting."
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About the Imaging Supplies Coalition
Xerox is a member of the Imaging Supplies Coalition, a trade association of imaging companies that band together to educate customers on counterfeiting issues. Wholesalers, dealers and consumers may also submit questionable goods to the ISC for authentication by the manufacturer. For more information, visit www.isc-inc.org.
What to look for How do you know if someone is selling counterfeit Xerox supplies? Look for these signs:
It's Cheap. Prices on counterfeit products are significantly cheaper than Xerox's.
Poor Quality. Counterfeit cartridges often produce poor print quality or they don't yield as many prints as expected.
Odd Packaging. Packaging with unusual colors or designs; a different language on the boxes; inserts such as instructions, return labels, or end caps are missing or incorrect.