The automotive counterfeit products market is variously reported to be worth approximately £28 billion a year globally. Largely, this money is being spent on low quality, potentially dangerous products outside the legitimate automotive industry and placed in the pockets of unscrupulous traders.
The implications to the motor industry have been recently highlighted by two separate court cases of counterfeiters producing fake car repair DVDs. The first case was of Muhsin Bakawala, 32, from Coventry, who made over £250,000 from selling around 500 DVDs per week to garages and members of the public.
Judge Philip Gregory told the court: “This was pure and simple greed. He was not mugging people in the street or robbing banks but it was still criminal because he was stealing intellectual property.”
Bakawala was jailed for two years after pleading guilty to 21 offences under the Trademarks Act, and will now face a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing, at which he will have to repay all the money.
Tony Swiatek, managing director at Autodata, Europe’s leading provider of technical information to the motor trade, said: “The production of counterfeit car DVDs is theft and is extremely detrimental to the motor industry.
“Thieves are making a lot of money from illegally downloading and copying these workshop DVDs, depriving the industry of millions of pounds. Not only this, but they are subjecting their buyers to sub-standard, sometimes out-of-date data. However, we are pleased that the severity of their crimes is being recognised in court and that people committing this kind of offence are being brought to justice.”
The case mirrors that of Lee Harris, 38 and also from Coventry, who recently admitted to copying and selling counterfeit car repair DVDs. A company director, he made over £30,000 from sales to garages and members of the public alike. Harris was jailed for a year and ordered to pay £30,380 – the proceeds of his crimes – for his offences under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
“Autodata has always supported and will continue to support Trading Standards’ efforts to stamp out illegal counterfeiting of technical information for garages and workshops, which clearly pose a significant challenge to road safety as well as denying legitimate business opportunities,” said Swiatek.