"Brand and product piracy is not a phenomenon that is limited to Asia or South East Europe. It also takes place right on our doorstep," says Ingrid Bichelmeir-Böhn, leader of the global brand protection team at Schaeffler. "The German and European markets are no longer only flooded with counterfeit luxury or consumer goods, there is also an increase in counterfeit industrial products that are relevant to safety such as rolling bearings."
So why do some companies still continue to purchase counterfeit bearings? Cost is almost certainly the overriding factor in their appeal, the company states.
However, although the offer price for the bearings may initially look attractive, buyers must ask themselves what the potential hidden costs are in terms of product liability and credibility with their customers if the product turns out to be counterfeit and things inevitably start to go wrong. These could, for example, be critical bearings on high value machinery in a production plant. The buyer therefore needs to take into account the cost of any production downtime if the bearing fails early.
Whenever customers or sales partners have reason to believe that a Schaeffler bearing they‘ve purchased may be a counterfeit, they can contact the brand protection team (BPT) directly or via one of Schaeffler’s national companies. The BPT – the central department responsible for inquiries related to counterfeiting – can be contacted at email@example.com
For example, at the start of January 2020, the BPT received an inquiry from the customs office in La Spezia, Italy, where a container of suspicious Schaeffler-branded rolling bearings had been stopped in transit. Once the BPT specialists saw the photographs of highly suspicious goods, they headed to La Spezia to check for themselves. Their suspicions were confirmed: 1,236 counterfeit Schaeffler rolling bearings were on their way to Morocco. The BPT then requested the seizure of the goods, thus setting proceedings in motion to ensure the destruction of the counterfeit rolling bearings.
Schaeffler sales partners regularly send inquiries regarding suspicious products to the BPT, who thoroughly review every single case. The data matrix code (DMC) – a unique code for each Schaeffler bearing – plays an important role here. Schaeffler has been able to identify duplicated codes on counterfeit products that had originally been applied to original Schaeffler products. These can of course only be counterfeits.
Schaeffler recommends using the OriginCheck app to help detect suspicious and counterfeit goods. The OriginCheck app is available free of charge for iOS and Android operating systems in German and English via the link below.