The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) has warned the coronavirus pandemic could be contributing to a rise of counterfeit car parts entering the UK automotive industry.
Outlined in the Annual IP Crime and Enforcement Report: 2019 to 2020, it demonstrates how Intellectual Property (IP) crime occurs, how it is prevented and why it is so important to “engage with consumers on the ethical issues at the heart of much IP crime so that they do not engage with it.”
In the IAAF section of the report, it said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has created an extraordinary environment this year in which all market players have been forced to adapt to the crisis and in many cases adopt different ways of operating. Some of these may be new and untested and as a result the IAAF is concerned that, because of possible parts supply chain disruptions, garages and motorists may resort to sourcing parts through alternative channels, which leads to an increased risk of counterfeit parts entering the market.
“With online usage increasing dramatically during the pandemic, the risk of fraudulent products being available online is a growing trend. When purchasing parts online, it is crucial that people know who they are buying their parts from. It is hard to know if using new supply sources for parts bought online if a part is genuine or not, and reputable suppliers will have a certificate of OE matching quality that they will be able to provide customers with to confirm authenticity.
“It is important, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond, that the supply chain remains in close communication to ensure the effective supply of parts and equipment. Garages are liable for any parts they fit and must be aware of the origin of the parts they are using.”
The latest report also highlights the rise of e-commerce having a significant impact on the availability of counterfeit merchandise and also pointed to social media platforms Facebook and Instagram, along with Amazon, Twitter, Gumtree and Alibaba as being a focus for brand protection teams with thousands of listed items removed and raids completed.
Wendy Williamson, IAAF Chief Executive, explained: “This year’s report highlights the wider implications of counterfeit goods, their links to other criminality and the sophisticated ‘business models’ by which they arrive into the UK market. The report also reveals the high level of acceptance of fake goods among consumers and so we as an industry must play our part to outline the ethical issues associated with this activity.
“Positively, the report demonstrates the very swift action that can be undertaken by authorities to bring those undertaking criminal activity to justice, with a growing focus on online platforms for their investigations.”