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Counterfeit Consumer Electronics: Watching and Waiting

Jan 01, 20062 mins
Business ContinuityDLP SoftwareFraud

Ken Wheatley, VP of corporate security at Sony Electronics, doesn't have too much of a counterfeiting problem—yet.

Ken Wheatley, VP of corporate security at Sony Electronics, doesn’t have too much of a counterfeiting problem—yet. “Right now, it’s predominately stereo headsets and camcorders. Those are the only things we’ve seen so far. The boxes we’ve been able to get ahold of and the instruction manuals we’ve seen indicate they’re coming out of China,” he says.

Wheatley says that it’s only been in the past year and a half or so that the company started to get calls from consumers about faulty products. And although fakes of many products are extremely hard to differentiate from the genuine, that hasn’t been the case with the camcorders he’s come across in the United States. Wheatley says that what some consumers have found when they open the box is not a single camcorder, but a disposable camera that takes still photos in the general shape of a camcorder, accompanied by a cassette tape recorder for sound. Even the box is cheap and clunky-looking, he says.

Wheatley shares anticounterfeiting responsibilities with his company’s legal department and has assigned a regional, San Jose-based security manager to take the lead on the issue. (He doesn’t have any regional security managers located abroad.) Knowing that the problem could worsen raises some questions for him: “How do you communicate to the public if you come across counterfeit product? We’re trying to see how other companies deal with the issue. Do they have a PR campaign? How do other companies set up a reporting mechanism [to report cases of counterfeit goods]? An 800 number? What’s the best way to get reports and quantify the nature of the problem?”

For right now, Wheatley just keeps the the problem on his radar, wondering if it will worsen down the road. “Part of what we’re trying to understand is why we’ve been so lucky up to this point,” he says.


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