Honeywell steps up actions against refrigerant fakes

Counterfeit versions of a Honeywell refrigerant that is often used in car air conditioning systems have been seized in the Czech Republic.

The counterfeits are allegedly knock-offs of Solstice yf (R1234yf), a low global-warming potential (GWP) refrigerant designed to meet the needs of the automotive industry for a greener AC chemical that can reduce harmful emissions.

Honeywell tipped off the Czech authorities about the unlicensed refrigerant, said to be manufactured in China, and following the seizure filed a lawsuit against a Czech distributor that it said had tried to offer the product for sale. Since then, the company has also filed two additional infringement lawsuits against a Chinese manufacturer and a Chinese distributor that it accuses of offering the suspected counterfeit in Germany.

Fake refrigerants have been a big problem in recent years, and can cause a variety of issues, ranging from increased energy use and decreased cooling performance, to significantly reducing the operating life of your system, and causing injury and equipment failures. A prime example of the risks is a notorious incident in 2011 in which shipping line Maersk reported three cases in which refrigeration units exploded  due to the use of counterfeit chemicals, causing three deaths.

“Honeywell is working to ensure that our customers have access to safe and high-quality refrigerants, and we have a long history of working closely with global law enforcement agencies to stop the spread of potentially dangerous unlicensed or counterfeit products,” said Richard Winick, vice president and general manager, automotive refrigerants at Honeywell.

“We will continue to work closely with law enforcement and customs authorities worldwide to actively pursue and prosecute infringers and counterfeiters of our Solstice yf solution and other products.”

Last year, brand protection company Brady partnered with serialization specialist Kezzler to develop authentication labeling and tracking for Honeywell’s Genetron 134a refrigerant, another brand prone to falsification.

Nearly 3,500 containers of counterfeit Genetron 134a product were seized by local law enforcement in Saudi Arabia in 2013, while in 2011 a seizure of approximately 6,000 cylinders was made in the United Arab Emirates.

Just last year, Honeywell assisted Chinese authorities with a similar infringement situation in Shanghai. The Guangzhou Baiyun Court sentenced a man to nine months jail time plus a criminal fine of 50,000 yuan (around $7,200) for his violation of Honeywell’s intellectual property rights. This sentence followed a months-long investigation of the man’s counterfeiting factory.

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