Consulting, specifying engineers join in the fight against counterfeits

Counterfeit electrical products can cause serious problems, from property damage to life safety issues.


The counterfeiting of well-known brands and products is a growing problem, estimated to be 5% to 7% of world trade, or about $600 billion each year. Of those well-known brands and products are consumer safety and critical technology products. In 2012, more than $146 million worth of such products was seized by U.S. Customs and Border Control, a 143% increase from 2011.

Why does this matter to the consulting and specifying engineer? A single counterfeit product can compromise the painstaking and careful coordination of the electrical system. There are potential dire consequences if counterfeit electrical products are installed in the building system they have specified. In the worse cases, counterfeit electrical products can pose a safety threat to the work environments consulting and specifying engineers design.

Counterfeit electrical products often use inferior materials, without regard for any labeled ratings or customer safety. A counterfeit product typically lacks independent certification and testing that is relied upon to ensure safety. The use of counterfeit products can result in malfunctions that cause serious injuries including electrical shock, electrocution, and even death. They are also capable of significant property damage.

By definition, a counterfeit is a product, service, or package for a product that uses, without authorization, the trademark, service mark, or copyright of another intended to deceive prospective customers into believing that the product or service is genuine. This makes detecting the difference between a counterfeit and authentic product difficult, especially as counterfeits become more and more sophisticated.

In this blog, we will discuss ways to avoid and encourage the proper identification of counterfeit electrical products, focusing on a consulting and specifying engineer’s perspective.

Eaton is dedicated to combating electrical counterfeiting to ensure industry professionals are working in safe environments with properly tested and certified authentic electrical products. It is crucial to work together to prevent these unsafe counterfeit products from causing harm to people and property, which is why we are eager to work with consulting and specifying engineers to more clearly define how their roles can help in the fight against counterfeiting.

Share your experiences and thoughts with us via the “comments” section.

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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