When you think of black market goods, you typically think of drugs, guns, and other illicit products. You probably don’t think of camera accessories, specifically power accessories such as batteries, chargers, and even external flashes. And yet there is a criminal and lucrative trade in just that—one that photographers may not even be aware of.
Canon has been battling counterfeit products, attempting to foreclose an increasingly audacious trade in knock-offs of its products by criminal manufacturers overseas who distribute them through resellers in the U.S. These culprits range from large factories to small businesses specializing in cheaply made and potentially dangerous fakes. And they’re not just pumping out Canon rip-offs; typically, a counterfeiter does not sell just one brand. If they are counterfeiting the Canon trademark, they are likely also counterfeiting the trademarks of other brands.
These counterfeit products aren’t just cutting into Canon’s bottom line; they’re a potential danger to photographers by putting their images at risk, and in some cases, causing bodily injury. Canon has seen cases of fires and explosions caused by counterfeit batteries and counterfeit power accessories. An unwitting customer may suffer burns and electric shocks from these counterfeit products as well as damage to their cameras and their components.
Canon has worked to stem the tide of fake goods by helping to unwind the illegal supply chain. If they catch a counterfeit retailer, they require them to identify their sources. Canon will then confront the sources and require them to identify their suppliers. The source also has to agree to foreswear from any further counterfeiting. There are severe penalties for violating this agreement. In the U.S., the penalties for trafficking in counterfeit goods can include jail time and large monetary fines.
Canon says it has seen a growing sophistication in the kinds of products counterfeiters can produce. Digital technology has enabled counterfeiters to duplicate the appearance of products so that they are similar in appearance to the genuine products. Counterfeiters generally do not spend the time and money to duplicate the sophisticated engineering and electronic components that Canon incorporates in its genuine products. That is why counterfeit products do not have the same quality as the genuine product. For example, counterfeit power accessories can look strikingly similar on the outside, but often do not contain important heat management and other safety features on the inside which genuine products contain.
Photographers can also land in legal hot water if they resell used counterfeit equipment. A person who sells a counterfeit product that causes an injury to the new owner may be liable for that injury even if they were not certain that the product was counterfeit. This means that a seller cannot ignore certain signs that can indicate that the product is not genuine, including a price that’s “too good to be true,” the condition of the product, the geographic origin of the product, the nature of the individual or entity the seller acquired the product from, and similar indications that would raise issues of genuineness.
Learn more about Canon’s fight against counterfeits at usa.canon.com/aboutcounterfeits.
If you suspect that you have purchased a counterfeit, you can contact Canon at 1-855-46-CANON and they will help authenticate your product as a genuine Canon product.