17 July 2008

The £1billion drain

UKEA calls for more action against component counterfeiters. By Mike Richardson.

Counterfeit electronic components are entering the UK market in huge numbers, costing the economy an estimated £1bn a year, according to a paper from the UK Electronics Alliance (UKEA).
The UKEA is calling on Government to combat this problem by increasing the amount of resources put into detection and prevention, introducing tougher penalties for those caught with counterfeit goods, and by fostering greater cooperation between the UK’s trading partners and their customs services.
The paper, which contains detailed recommendations, has been sent to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and the UK Intellectual Property office. The UKEA will follow up with a series of high level meetings with a number of parliamentarians to discuss the issue.
Intellect’s electronics manager Henry Parker claims that, whilst industry has a huge self policing role to play in combating the effects of counterfeiting, there are a number of actions that could be addressed more effectively by UK responsible Government agencies.
“This paper not only sets out what UKEA member associations like Intellect, afdec and COG need to do within themselves to improve the current situation, but also offers recommendations that the HMRC and the IP office need to address. In order to support growth of the UK’s electronics industry – and to counteract some of the costs to the economy that counterfeiting is causing – more attention should be paid from outside the sector to address it.”
According to UKEA estimates, the UK has only two HMRC officers directly responsible for intercepting counterfeit goods coming into the UK. The UKEA believes Britain must follow the lead set by European Parliament and US Customs Service.
“There needs to be more effort in the UK playing a leadership role in formulating an international anti counterfeiting trade agreement and raise its head above the parapet,” added Parker. “At present, we don’t have the right level of coordinated action to try and reduce the impact of counterfeiting. This white paper is the appropriate vehicle for us to try and coordinate that effort.”

Interviewed recently, Acal Technology’s sales and marketing director Steve Carr said: “Counterfeiting is driven by the simple economics of demand and supply and by the imperative of obtaining market prominence through the continual release of new and innovative products, which speeds product development and generates a significant reduction in product life cycles.
“In component distribution, as in life itself, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is!”

Mike Richardson

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