Collaboration central to combatting counterfeits

Consulting engineers play role, along with governments, manufacturers, customers, and industry organizations.


In order to address the problem of counterfeit electrical products meaningfully, collaboration needs to take place across the industry and beyond. Industry organizations, manufacturers, customers, and government bodies need to be involved in order to enact measures that will lead toward more effective detection of counterfeit products.

Many companies are leading initiatives to protect public health and safety by collaborating with industry partners to prevent these unsafe counterfeit products from causing harm to people and property. For example, Eaton’s electrical business has adopted a strict policy for counterfeiting and is committed to anti-counterfeiting technologies and programs. Slowing the proliferation of counterfeit electrical products can help to ensure maximum electrical safety levels for consumers.


Industry organizations, such as National Electrical Manufacturer’s Association (NEMA), enable member companies in the electrical industry to focus their collective efforts on identifying ways to stop counterfeiting. Industry representation by NEMA can be used to promote laws, regulations, or government directives. Other industry organizations such as the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFi) rely on engagement from the electrical industry and supporters to promote consumer awareness of counterfeit electrical products. These collaborative efforts carry a stronger message and improve awareness and detection dramatically. 


The government also plays a vital role in combatting counterfeiting. In the United States, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is in charge of keeping foreign pirated and counterfeit goods from being imported into the country. In order for governments to be effective at blocking the proliferation of counterfeit products at customs and borders, laws need to be enforceable while supporting the victims and not the criminals. The engagement of government to create stronger deterrent penalties, especially where safety issues are concerned, is crucial to stopping counterfeiting.  


In addition, the government needs industry support and collaboration to be effective. A high degree of brand holder engagement with law enforcement is essential to successfully enforce intellectual property rights (IPR) laws and take criminal action against illicit manufacturing, importers and brokers of counterfeit electrical products. 


Stopping the sale of counterfeit products is everyone’s responsibility. If every individual along a product’s supply chain played an active role in stopping counterfeit products from being bought and sold, the demand for counterfeit electrical products would decrease. From the manufacturer that designs the product, to the government body inspecting imports, to the consulting-specifying engineer that specifies products into its designs and the contractors that install them. 


It is crucial to continue to work together to prevent these unsafe counterfeit products from causing harm to people and property. 


As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness, training, and prevention. This involves building awareness of the risks that counterfeit electrical products present to personal safety and the economy with end customers, contractors, inspectors, and electrical resellers.

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