The global trade in counterfeit Mercedes-Benz products continues to increase. In 2021 alone, more than 1.86 million counterfeit products were seized in over 650 raids. This is a significant increase of around 6% compared to the previous year, 2020.
Counterfeit products are not only illegal, they are also relevant to safety and can endanger the health of road users. That’s why Mercedes-Benz is taking rigorous action against such counterfeit products. The measures focus on components such as brake discs, wheels and body and steering parts.
According to Renata Jungo Brungger, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, Integrity & Legal Affairs, “The counterfeiting industry has organised crime structures and often generates higher profits than drug trafficking. We are working closely with authorities around the world in order to curtail these structures and combat threats to road safety.”
The car with the fake brake pads (above) has a significantly longer braking distance.
Brand protection strategy to identify counterfeiters
During the pandemic over the past two years, product pirates increasingly used online platforms and social media channels to offer counterfeit goods. It requires much more effort for brand protection experts to research the online trade in counterfeit products. Counterfeit goods can be placed on online platforms at very short notice and sold with the support of social media. For this reason, Mercedes-Benz says it has further expanded its strategic and operational measures against counterfeiting in online trading. The brand protection strategy comprises three pillars: Detect, attack and prevent. The luxury carmaker's brand protection experts can identify counterfeiters by checking suspicious offers on online platforms and social media or trade fairs worldwide.
Brungger says: “The trading in counterfeit products on online platforms and social media is further increasing. Our brand protection experts have quickly adapted to the counterfeiting industry’s growing business model. In 2021, more than 126,000 counterfeit products were removed from online platforms.”
It’s often hard to visually distinguish counterfeit products from genuine parts. However, blatant differences in quality and safety quickly become apparent on the test track and on the road. The quality of counterfeit products is usually poor and they do not meet the minimum legal requirements in terms of safety. Therefore, counterfeit products pose a significant risk to the health and safety of road users.
In many cases, organised counterfeiters have their goods produced under inhumane conditions with no regard for human rights, environmental standards and occupational safety. The global Mercedes-Benz Intellectual Property Enforcement team works closely with customs and law enforcement authorities. In addition, it regularly offers training events and information material for the preventive raising of awareness among different target groups.
Mercedes-Benz reports regularly on its work against counterfeiters. An example of this is an interview with a brand protection expert, who tells how she and her team are combating product piracy: Brand protection at Mercedes-Benz | Mercedes-Benz Group
Customers and road users can also support the prevention of product counterfeiting in their daily lives and check unusual offers very carefully. Typical indicators of counterfeit products are an extremely low price, conspicious product quality or sale via dubious online sources. It is often even possible to see from the product images or designations that the parts cannot be genuine, since Mercedes-Benz simply doesn’t manufacture such items.