U-NICA Feb 27, 2020 5:30:16 PM 8 min read

5 Tactics to Fight Counterfeit Auto Parts

Automotive brands are under siege by parts counterfeiters, but there are 5 steps every OEM can take to fight back and protect their products and customers

Brand protection and product protection are crucial considerations for those in the automotive industry. But brand value protection is a more comprehensive concept, which encompasses all of your efforts to protect your brand name, reputation, and the quality and integrity of your products. 

Automotive is one of the largest consumer industries worldwide, so those in the field need to remain competitive and protect their brand value now more than ever. The International Chamber of Commerce projected that the global economic value of counterfeiting and piracy could reach $2.3 trillion in 2022, and counterfeit auto parts represent a huge piece of that illicit market. The European Office of Intellectual Property (EUIPO) estimates that €2.2 billion is lost every year by the parts industry to counterfeit tire sales and €180 million to counterfeit battery sales.

Here are five things every automotive manufacturer can do to meet their brand value protection challenges.


1. Harmonize packaging designs

Most brands in the automotive industry don’t have just one packaging supplier or printer. The industry depends on sourcing, and thus it’s almost impossible to identify a given supplier based on the end package, and even harder to verify its authenticity. Plus there’s the risk that IP may be exposed when automotive manufacturers communicate with these vendors via unsecured processes, such as public mail or commercial sharing platforms.

Printers and packaging suppliers can combat this challenge by all providing a consistent corporate identity design, which means using the same Pantone colors, graphics, logo and other design elements. This can be accomplished by using a centralized print design management service that can ensure all printers and suppliers provide the same quality of design.

2. Control over security label distribution

The label distribution chain can be extremely long and diverse in a highly distributed sourcing environment, such as the one that exists in the automotive industry. Sourcing partners often create parts packaging or outsource this task themselves, which creates more opportunities for counterfeiters to attack. 
This challenge can be combated with targeted measures, such as monitoring the flow of goods, that give industry professionals greater control over the secure label distribution process. Only then can the production and distribution of packing security labels be controlled. An inspection is also required when the goods arrive, so the product can be identified and validated.

3. Getting ahead of counterfeiters

Combating counterfeiters is a huge challenge in any industry. There’s no single way that works on its own to defend and prevent their attacks. Counterfeiters will try to mimic original packaging and labels to minimize the chance their counterfeits will be detected. Even if you defend against one attempt, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to keep them off the market forever.
A successful, long-term product protection strategy needs multi-factor verification elements that combine complex hidden and visible anti-counterfeit traces. Hidden protective measures will help thwart the efforts of counterfeiters, as will utilizing multiple zones and technologies.

4. Making sure stakeholders are aligned

Another big challenge specific to the automotive industry is aligning stakeholders on one concept or strategy. Stakeholders can include any design studios, agencies, suppliers or procurement agents, for example. All these moving parts need to align to adequately support brand protection technologies because all of them will have to comply with the plan. This applies to their processes, the way things are monitored, vetting employees and protocols, the quality of printing, and more.
It’s also important for those in the automotive industry to keep an eye on how invasive protection solutions are when applied to already existing processes within the infrastructure. You need to establish protection policies that are compatible with your internal processes and culture.

5. Consistent learning

In today’s data-driven world, knowledge is power, and this is especially true for the fast-paced automotive industry. Every year, a range of new technologies are introduced that improve processes and bring important updates to vehicles. For those in the industry to stay relevant and ahead of the game, they need to constantly be researching and learning about trends related to brand value protection. All relevant data must be properly maintained and secured so the data can be used for better decision-making and targeting.
One thing the team at U-NICA knows is how important it is to stay on top of developing technologies in order to implement successful brand value protection. We help you combat counterfeit products and any fraudulent activities by staying ahead of the game across industries, including automotive. We focus on implementing brand and product protection solutions that work over the long-term, not just temporary solutions.

Get in touch with the team at U-NICA to learn more about how we can help.