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 user 2007-10-09 at 11:07:00 am Views: 35
  • #19275

    Fraudsters Invade Cartridge Market
    oct 07 Consumers and makers of printer cartridges are losing millions
    of shillings to a vibrant counterfeiting industry that refills and
    repackages them for resale in the local market as new products.Top
    among the victims of this illicit trade are American technology firm
    Hewlett Parkard (HP) and Epfon whose cartridges are popular in the
    Kenyan market. The Government and its agencies are notable among the
    consumers bled dry in the syndicate as bulk buyers.The scam revolves
    around businessmen working in collaboration with secretaries,
    messengers and other junior staff to get the empty cartridges and boxes
    which they later use to repackage the recycled products for sale.

    than recylcing, this syndicate uses its network of junior employees to
    steal original cartridges from offices for resale at lower prices.To
    sell these poor quality gadgets, the purveyors collude with purchasing
    and accounting officers to supply them at a fee for their certification
    as genuine products worth buying at market price.Also caught up in this
    web are small consumers who end up buying the fake products that do
    poor work in a shorter period.

    HP’s regional manager Kennedy
    Mbwaya, however, reckons that the company is not against the refill
    business but is opposed to those passing the refills as new products on
    its brand name. He said the company knew of firms that refill the
    cartridge for sale under a different brand name.”We are strongly
    opposed to the group that uses our boxes to pass the refills as new
    products,” Mr Mbwaya said.In Nairobi, the refilled catridge business
    has a complex network. The small dealers converge at the city’s Globe
    Roundabout with the used catridges and boxes to supply their bigger
    counterparts. These items fetch between Sh50 and Sh300 depending on the
    quality of the boxes and cartridges .The business is getting more
    complex by the day as the group now orders the printing of HP or Epfon
    boxes for repackaging, especially when they land a big supply order
    with the government.

    One dealer told the Business Daily that
    depending on the organisation one is supplying, it was possible for the
    refillers to get returns at the rate of 10 times the cost of refill. If
    one, for example, uses Sh1, 000 to refill and package a given
    cartridge, such items can be resold at the price of Sh11, 000.”There is
    money especially if you land a contract with the government. Some
    government departments do not care so long as you give them their cut,”
    said the source.”Mid months are our good days, we get lots of supply
    from people working in these offices since they are broke and it’s that
    time that we buy them cheaply.”The consumer’s troubles are deepened by
    the fact that some of the fakes are imported, making it impossible to
    spot the difference.

    Stanley Munyasya of Okiprint Stationaries
    in Nairobi down town, says the company is losing business to dealers in
    refills. While he stocks genuine cartridges, Mr Munyasya says most
    neighbouring businesses deal in fakes mainly originating from China.He
    says while an original HP laser Jet 92A will retail at Sh4,200 the
    counterfeits go for Sh1,500.”You can’t tell the difference if you have
    not been in this business for long.”He claims even custom officials
    find it difficult to distinguish between the fakes and the originals.Mr
    Fred Obuya who deals in original catridges says the problem with the
    refills is that they don’t work at all or they give poor quality print
    out.”While an original cartridge can give you up to 2,400 print copies,
    the refills will give you half at poor quality ,” said Obuya.Our
    sources said the ill business was thriving along Tsavo Avenue,
    Kirinyaga and River road areas in Nairobi.Prospective buyers who
    question the lower prices are challenged that the products come from
    Dubai.Sadly, the syndicate is now sending authorised dealers out of
    town, said Mbwaya.

    Proposed law
    The absence of tough laws and
    an agency to tackle counterfeiting has left offenders free to thrive in
    this illegal trade that is estimated to be worth billions of shillings
    annually.This situation is, however, bound to change should Parliament
    enact a proposed Anti-Counterfeit Bill that spells out stiff penalties
    especially for repeat offenders.According to the proposed Bill, any
    person found guilty of possessing or in control of the process of
    trading any counterfeit goods, faces a maximum of five years in jail or
    a fine three times the retail price of the goods to which the offence
    relates.If found guilty the second time then the Bill proposes that the
    offender face a fifteen-year imprisonment or fine not less than five
    times the value of the prevailing retail price.It also proposes the
    formation of an agency that will handle issues related to

    Counterfeit goods have also found their way into
    the country mainly from China through Dubai. Locally, the music
    industry is so far the worst hit by piracy.The Bill stipulates that any
    person found manufacturing, producing, packaging, re-packaging,
    labeling or making in Kenya or elsewhere any goods protected or
    imitated in such a manner that they are identical or substantially
    similar then the person or persons are liable for the offence.It also
    states that a person is liable to counterfeit offence if found guilty
    of imitating through a calculated move to confuse consumers to buy the
    products assuming they were the original products and which are
    protected.Other than those manufacturing, the Bill also says those
    found either selling, hiring or offering on display any counterfeit
    goods or distributing counterfeits goods for the purpose of trade, can
    be charged in a court of law.However, taking into account the number of
    days investigations take in the country and the requirement by the Bill
    that during the case hearing, the need to get the identity of the
    persons involved in the importation , exportation, their addresses or
    whereabouts, may end up being a tall order.Through the Copyright
    Society of Kenya, a number of organisations have started taking the
    issue of copy right infringement seriously.Apart from the musicians,
    other companies like Microsoft have also taken the cue by seeking legal
    redress about some computers sales they alleged infringed on their copy