Electro-chemicals manufacturer, Electrolube, has been a specialist provider of chemical solutions worldwide since 1941 and set up Electrolube India 7 years ago. Operations in India are going from strength to strength, however, the company recently hit the headlines following the announcement of a legal caution to fraudsters, who have attempted to copycat Electrolube products.
In this interview, Padmanabha Shakhtivelu, General Manager of Electrolube India, gives us the backstory and unveils why manufacturers need to be careful if approached by counterfeit companies offering copycat electro-chemical products.
You recently issued a ‘caution notice’ announcement regarding piracy of your material safety data sheet. Please tell us what lead you to issue such a notice to the media?
At Electrolube, we go to great lengths in terms of our investment in R&D, people, time and product innovation to improve the lifetime and reliability of our customers’ end products. The journey that lead us to issue a ‘caution notice’ to the media started when we first became aware of a counterfeit copy of one of our most popular products, which had been supplied to one of our customers. In light of this gross breach of intellectual property, we made the decision to take a positive step forward and issue a ‘caution notice’ announcement to the media.
The main reason for taking this initial action is to create awareness of counterfeit copies of our products, forewarn manufacturers of the negative implications of using those products and alert counterfeiters of the stringent legal action we will take against them.
At Electrolube, we have a strong brand reputation to protect and by taking strict measures at an early stage against operations that attempt to copy our products, we aim to prevent further illicit products from entering the market. There are harmful consequences of using counterfeit products, which can be detrimental to the end-use of devices, due to the bad quality and unknown origin of the materials used to make them. The poor quality of counterfeit products sold on the market may also affect an organisation’s brand reputation, since any device failure or recall that consumers experience will associate the brand with inferior quality.
To the best of your knowledge, what products are being copied?
We were alerted to the counterfeit copy of our epoxy resin ER6002, when a customer shared it for review. Electrolube’s ER6002 resin is a two-part, thermally conductive epoxy encapsulation resin with extremely high thermal conductivity of 1W/mK, which is widely used in automotive applications such as ignition control unit potting. Manufactured locally at Electrolube India in Bangalore, the ER6002 resin is made from locally sourced materials and carries a full ‘seal of approval’ from the UK parent company for quality and innovation that importantly meets internationally recognised standards. Using key local knowledge, the team at Electrolube India identified local customers’ requirements in terms of budgetary restraints and production methodologies, and created ER6002, leveraging group technical support, as one of a range of resin solutions to fit local manufacturers requirements. ER6002 has been carefully formulated to meet very high standards and the copycat version of our product will certainly fail to perform as anticipated.
What should manufacturers be aware of when approached by companies offering copycat products?
First of all, manufacturers should ask for the safety and technical datasheets of products to check if the properties listed are as expected and that all address and product information is correct. It will also be easy to see if the SDS is compliant with regulations or not. Some copycat products may give identical documents to that of Electrolube if they have obtained our literature, so the next thing to look out for is the quality of the labelling and packaging. Often labels from counterfeit products are of poor quality, do not have the correct logo on or have incorrect or incomplete health and safety information. All chemical products should also be clearly labelled with a batch number.
If at all in doubt, we are urging manufacturers to send photos and the batch number to us, so that we can check the product’s authenticity on their behalf.
How does this impact on customers and what damage does this cause the industry?
This has enormous implications for customers. We are in the business of specialised, formulated chemicals at Electrolube and we have been awarded BSI ISO standards for occupational health and safety management, our quality management system and for our environmental management system. Raw material products with inferior quality will certainly affect the quality of manufacturer’s end products and impact negatively on their reliability in the long term, which will in turn also affect a company’s brand reputation. By taking some simple precautions, the damage to the industry by copycat products can be minimised. It does mean that the industry has to be aware that there are counterfeit products being made and offered onto the market. Customers have to be confident in their supply chain and know their suppliers to ensure that they are getting supplies of legitimate materials.
What effect will the products imitating Electrolube have on manufacturer’s end-products?
By purchasing products through approved distributors, a manufacturer can have much more confidence that they are obtaining the correct material that meets the specifications that are listed on the product TDS. Counterfeit material can, at best, have similar properties to the genuine product, if for example it is the genuine material just being repackaged into a different size. However, the material will not have been handled in the correct manner and therefore, the quality and reliability cannot be guaranteed. Electrolube do not allow the repackaging of their materials for this reason, so customers can be assured of the quality of our products. In the majority of cases, the counterfeit product has lesser properties and does not meet the performance criteria outlined in the TDS, potentially reducing the reliability and service life of the final product . Use of counterfeit material would render any approvals or specifications associated with the material null and void and this would also apply to the manufacturer’s completed product as well.
What are the consequences for copycat companies that Electrolube India will enforce?
As a leading global manufacturer of electronics protection solutions, Electrolube has a formidable legal team backing us in India as well as in China, the UK and across all of our international sites. Electrolube will pursue whatever course of action we are advised to take by our lawyers and we will ensure that the legal action is pursued fully until the copycat products are completely eliminated from the market. Imitating our products is a matter we take very seriously. This has enormous implications for our customers and for our own brand reputation, and as a company that has been established for nearly 80 years, we have a very strong reputation to protect and will take every legal procedure possible to eliminate counterfeiters.
What should a manufacturer do if they are approached by companies offering counterfeit products?
A manufacturer should inform Electrolube India about any approaches from counterfeiters so that steps can be taken to ensure that counterfeit material is removed from the market. If manufacturers are in any doubt, please contact the team at Electrolube India who can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling +91 80 2972 3099.
For further information, please visit http://www.electrolube.in.