Epson has warned resellers to steer clear of potential counterfeit inkjet cartridges after a Victorian police investigation found several people allegedly selling thousands of phoney cartridges on eBay.
Bruno Turcato, managing director at Epson Australia, told CRN that similar investigations had in the last two years resulted in legal actions against resellers.
The most recent one was eventually settled out of court so Epson would not provide further details, but it had been fairly "major", Turcato said. "It was a similar situation to this."
Victorian police had made three arrests after Epson alerted them to a possible counterfeit cartridge-selling operation on popular auction website eBay. Police had raided a Box Hill house in Melbourne and seized 4435 cartridges and the associated packaging, he said.
The cartridges had a street value of around $30 each or $130,000 in total. Packaging was labelled "Made for use in China", he said.
Only one individual was eventually charged, but the low prices and large volume of the cartridges offered might have proved tempting to resellers, Turcato said.
Not knowing a cartridge was counterfeit was no defence under the law, so anyone found selling counterfeit cartridges risked prosecution, he added.
"I believe the person was charged with profiting by deception, and attempting to profit by deception, and copyright and trademark infringements," he said.
Epson would stop at little to stamp out the counterfeit cartridge industry, which the vendor believed could damage its relationships and brand with customers, he said.
"In Australia, we would estimate that between three and five percent of the cartridges out there in the marketplace are counterfeits," Turcato said.
"If you talk about China, say, it might be more like 30 to 50 percent. That's a huge concern to Epson."
Even specialists would have great difficulty distinguishing counterfeit from legitimate cartridges, so Epson believed resellers should stick to buying from its authorised distributors only, Turcato said.
Cheaper product might be available from other distributors or sources, but such product was more likely to be counterfeit. Counterfeit cartridges were more likely to damage the printer or malfunction in other ways, he said.
"Product can clog heads or have air inside the delivery tubs," Turcato said. "If there is an unscrupulous channel player who wants to turn a blind eye to these products, that's unfortunate for me and for the end-users."