Penalties for counterfeit car parts 'too low' in EU

The increasing use of fake car parts poses a growing security risk for road users, leading to deadly accidents and serious bodily harm as well as infringing the intellectual property of manufacturers, according to Eurojust, the EU agency for criminal justice cooperation.

An European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) analysis published in 2018 found that counterfeit tyres and batteries alone were costing EU businesses €2.4bn (around $2.5bn) every year).

Meanwhile, another EUIPO study published earlier this year found that while of all seized dangerous goods 7 per cent are fake car parts, they are by far the most valuable confiscated products.

To tackle this rising problem, prosecutors and law enforcement officials gathered at Eurojust to discuss how to prosecute this crime more effectively.

One method is cumulative charging, adding charges such as manslaughter, causing bodily harm and fraud to copyright infringements to raise the level of sentencing. Among perpetrators, the production of fake parts is often seen as a victimless and high-profit/low-risk crime, while penalties across the EU remain relatively low, according to presentations at the meeting.

One approach under discussion would envisage a charge of manslaughter, in case of a deadly accident, for example, and assault/battery in cases where bodily harm was caused but the life of a human was not endangered.

If the fake part was installed without the knowledge of the car owner at the price of the original product by the service technicians, but led to no harm, a charge of fraud would be considered.

"Due to the infiltration of fake parts into the legal supply chain, owners of workshops are often not even aware of the fact that the replacement parts they have purchased are counterfeit products," said Eurojust in a statement.

"This can lead to the retrofitting of faulty essential devices, such as brake pads, and lead to casualties on the road."

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the sale of counterfeit products shifted to online e-commerce platforms such as eBay, Wish, AliExpress, Alibaba and social networks such as Instagram and Facebook.

"Criminal organisations manage to produce fake parts at a low price and in high volumes, avoiding safety controls," said Eurojust. "Investigations into such cases are cumbersome and prosecuting them often proves to be difficult."

Closer collaboration between EU member states, third countries and private companies would also help by allowing prosecutors to tackle multiple criminal offences, ensuring perpetrators are sentenced for the entirety of their criminal activity, rather than just the most prevailing crime.

This would result in higher penalties, while it would also allow the use of special investigative methods and tactics reserved for crimes that are considered more serious by legislators. Another way to make this crime type less lucrative is to be stricter in the seizure and confiscation of the assets of criminals who manufacture and sell counterfeit products.

Related articles:

     Want our news sent directly to your inbox?

Yes please 2


Home  |  About us  |  Contact us  |  Advertise  |  Links  |  Partners  |  Privacy Policy  |   |  RSS feed   |  back to top