For the past year of 2021, the renowned German automotive manufacturer Mercedes‑Benz Group reports a total of about 1.86 million seized counterfeits of its products, which were confiscated in more than 650 raids. This has now been released by the Stuttgart‑based company. The number of seized counterfeits has once more increased significantly year on year, this time by around six percent – the former Daimler AG had reported around 1.7 million seized counterfeits for 2020, while the figure for 2019 was at around 1.6 million seized fakes.
// 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.
Renata Jungo Brüngger, Integrity & Legal Affairs, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG
One of the focus areas of brand protection at Mercedes‑Benz was placed on measures against the sale of counterfeits on the Internet. During the coronavirus pandemic, the number of counterfeits offered online has increased noticeably, the group says. Accordingly, it says, around 126,000 suspected counterfeits were removed from online platforms in 2021 – while in the previous year, the group says it had taken down more than 138,000 offers for counterfeit products, and in 2019, the figure was just over 50,000.
According to company information, Mercedes‑Benz has further stepped up its brand protection measures for the online sector. For the group’s brand protection, research into the sale of counterfeits on the web is considerably more time-consuming, considering that in the fast-moving e‑commerce business, counterfeits might be posted on online marketplaces and promoted via social media on short notice. In a recent article published by the company, Lita Silje Jänisch, who heads the Global IP Enforcement department at Mercedes‑Benz Intellectual Property, also highlights a trend towards trading illegal products via certain apps. These might be small, fast‑growing networks, which are not publicly accessible, further complicating the search for illegal offers. Accordingly, the brand protection activities of Mercedes-Benz in the online area are to be further strengthened.
// In general, we have been observing an increasing online trade in counterfeit products for a number of years. It is very clear that the pandemic has accelerated this even further.
Lita Silje Jänisch, Global IP Enforcement, Mercedes-Benz
In its actions against counterfeiting, the Mercedes‑Benz Group cooperates with customs and law enforcement authorities and uses a global approach with three pillars, comprising the following elements: Detect, Attack, and Prevent. For example, this includes checking for suspicious offers on online platforms and trade fairs to identify counterfeits. Furthermore, global raids in cooperation with local authorities aim to dismantle large counterfeiting rings and their manufacturing and distribution structures. In addition, Mercedes‑Benz also employs preventive measures, for example by raising awareness of authorities and providing them with customized support, e.g. offering dedicated training and information materials.
Mercedes‑Benz also regards its brand protection activities as a contribution to sustainability, since, according to the group, organized counterfeiters often produce their illegal goods under inhumane conditions, with no regard for human rights, environmental standards, and occupational health and safety. In order to support customers in avoiding counterfeits, the company provides information about the risks of fakes and about tips for identifying signs of counterfeiting; and it encourages people to report car parts that might be fake.