Daimler says online fake part sales increased during pandemic

Carmaker Daimler says it confiscated more than 1.7m counterfeit parts last year, up from 1.6m a year earlier, an increase that it attributes in part to more online sales during the COVID-19 crisis.

The increase in seized items was also seen despite a decrease in the number of enforcement operations, with delayed raids and court rulings, although Daimler said it had nevertheless  supported more than 550 raids by authorities.

Daimler's head of legal product intellectual property, Florian Adt, said that the company had modified its brand protection strategy to accommodate the change in the criminals' behaviour, increasing its attention on online trading.

"All in all, we were able to have 138,000 fake products removed from online platforms," said Adt. "This is around three times as many as during the same period before the pandemic." Daimler's focus was above all on safety-related products such as fake brake discs or wheels.

To non-experts, counterfeit parts may look very little different from genuine parts, but in most cases they are of inferior quality and do not meet even minimum legal standards, according to Daimler. They therefore represent a significant risk to the wellbeing and safety of customers.

Market research firm Allied Analytics has estimated that counterfeiting costs the automotive sector around $3bn a year, and is only expected to grow in the coming years.

Companies are turning to authentication technologies to protect their products, and holograms, inks and dyes are currently the most commonly adopted security measures “owing to their economic pricing and ease of application.” However, Allied Analytics says track and trace technologies are gaining popularity for product tracking and authentication.

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