An online reporting hub empowering consumers to submit a report aimed at assisting investigators in the detection and seizure of counterfeit car parts has received support from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Launched today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), the Genuine Is Best campaign website www.genuineisbest.com.au/report-a-counterfeit enables consumers to submit details of parts they suspect may not be the genuine article.

Recent international seizures have indicated the scope of the counterfeit parts problem, with raids in China and the Middle East unearthing massive volumes of sub-standard and often dangerous parts potentially headed for Australian shores.

Consumers who believe they have been sold or had their car fitted with a counterfeit part can report the details via the reporting hub.

This information will be provided to the Original Equipment Manufacturer so that it may investigate any breaches of its intellectual property rights.

The OEM will then submit a formal notification to the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

The Department is empowered under Federal legislation, specifically the Trade Marks Act 1995 or the Copyright Act 1968, to take action in respect of the alleged breach, which could include the seizure of the property.

Erin Dale, Commander Customs Compliance in the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, said more information would assist in curtailing the counterfeit issue.

“The Department works in partnership with the automotive industry to prevent counterfeit car parts from crossing the Australian border,” Cmdr Dale said.

“It enforces intellectual property rights through Australia’s Notice of Objection Scheme, which enables it to seize importations of counterfeit and pirated goods at the border. Each year we enforce over 600 Notices of Objection on behalf of brand owners.

“During the 2015-16 financial year we seized more than 190,000 individual items of counterfeit and pirated goods worth about $17 million.

“Programs that allow the Australian public to report counterfeit goods to brand owners may draw attention to counterfeit goods, so brand owners are in a position to advise the Department of suspected imports of counterfeit goods.

“The more information that the Department has on suspected counterfeit goods, the greater its ability to identify and intercept these goods.

“With a Notice of Objection Scheme in place, the industry’s expertise will assist us to detect infringing goods at the border. We encourage the industry to refer information to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, such as details of known importers or shipments of goods.”

The online reporting site supports FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber’s call for more attention to be placed on dangerous automotive components.

“With the striker wire test outcome, we have seen just one more demonstration of how a non-genuine part presents a serious safety risk to consumers. By developing this online reporting capability we are empowering consumers and asking them to join us in our fight against the counterfeiters,” Mr Weber said.

“Millions of dollars worth of counterfeit car parts seized over the past 12 months in warehouses from China to the Middle East have demonstrated the scale of this issue. It’s an international trade which has been estimated to be worth US$20 billion a year.

“The component testing the FCAI has undertaken has shown that the manufacturing processes counterfeiters are using are capable of creating parts that look up to the job, but in circumstances where they need to perform and protect vehicle occupants they are not fit for purpose and, in many cases, are downright dangerous.

“This is where we need the help of Australian vehicle owners. By taking an active role in uncovering these counterfeit components, panels and parts, consumers are not just protecting themselves and their fellow road users, but also working to assist the Australian Government in curbing their illegal importation and distribution.”

Consumers who believe they have been sold a counterfeit car part can submit the details at www.genuineisbest.com.au/report-a-counterfeit.

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