Bitzer eyes 14 companies in piracy crackdown
GERMANY: In its bid to crack down on counterfeit products, compressor manufacturer Bitzer says it is currently monitoring 14 Chinese companies suspected of producing fakes.
Now deploying QR codes on all its compressors in a bid to tackle the problem, Europe’s leading compressor manufacturer estimates that the number of counterfeit “Bitzer” products sold in Asia is equivalent to one third of all legitimate Bitzer product sales.
Across all industries and sectors, the economic and social damages resulting from counterfeit products and piracy are estimated to total around $1.7 trillion per year. In the German engineering industry, alone, damages are approximately €8bn per year, according to the German engineering association VDMA.
Bitzer first went public on its war against counterfeiters on the Cooling Post last year and now reveals further details in its latest customer magazine Compact.
Revealing the extent of product piracy in Asia, Bitzer’s md for South East Rob de Bruyn, says: “We fear that the number of counterfeit products there is equivalent to one third of all the Bitzer products sold. In addition to copied compressors, the use of counterfeit refrigerants and oils is also dangerous. They can damage original compressors, which in the worst-case scenario can lead to an explosion.”
“We’re currently monitoring 14 companies in China alone that manufacture deceptively similar looking counterfeit Bitzer products and sell them primarily in the Asian market,” says Rainer Große-Kracht, Bitzer’s chief technology officer.
And some counterfeiters are meticulous in their imitations: “Just about everything is copied, including compressors, spare parts, logos, documentation and brochures,” adds Große-Kracht.
They also claim to have discovered a brochure with Bitzer’s company history re-written and using a double of Bitzer ceo Peter Schaufler.
Direct action is not easy in many countries as the legal systems are different from those in Europe. “However, we’re no longer satisfied with this dubious form of flattery – “We only copy the best” – which is something we’ve heard over and over again from counterfeiters who get caught,” maintains Rainer Große-Kracht
“We have had forgeries removed from the exhibition floor at the 2015 AHR Expo, at Chillventa and in India. This was even the case at China Refrigeration in Shanghai in 2013 and again a few weeks ago. A particular brazen counterfeiter had to remove brochures from the stand because they looked like ours.”
But it’s not just individual manufacturers who are targeted: “Counterfeiters have now even set their sights on the certificates of the European industry association ASERCOM,” he reveals. “This is unacceptable, as one of the key responsibilities of the association is to provide customers with reliable compressor performance data to promote fair competition.”
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