Counterfeiting parts and products is a growing problem for manufacturing industries and Tsurumi Pumps is the latest victim. In a recent case, the global pump manufacturer's products and user manuals were copied by FY Pumps (FengYuan Pump Industry Co., Ltd), based in China, and sold amongst others to an Italian importer. Tsurumi used the full force of the law to successfully sue and the offending pumps were destroyed. Tsurumi has vowed to take full legal action against any other company linked with imitated products.
Tsurumi Europe's lawyer, Dr. Reinhard Nacke of FPS Rechtsanwälte & Notare in Düsseldorf, comments: "Tsurumi has been dealing with imitated pumps appearing on the market for many years. In 2004, for example, we stopped the distribution of Taiwanese copies by bringing charges against an English importer and settling through an out-of-court action. Now we have stepped in against an Italian importer and within a couple of days court injunctions were in place. The Bologna court's verdict once again highlights many European courts' support of a zero tolerance policy against counterfeiters, whether in cases of patent violation or even in cases where no industrial property right is registered."
In the case of FY Pumps, Tsurumi took action when the Italian company imported the imitated products to Europe. Responsibility for goods imported into Europe lies with the importer as well as the manufacturer. Tsurumi is determined to use its network of dealers and sales agents to monitor the market and take further legal action against any company caught using counterfeit Tsurumi pumps in Europe.
Poor quality products entering the market is often a major concern of counterfeiting, as Daniel Weippert, Managing Director of Tsurumi Europe, explains:
"The imitated pumps frankly were noticeably weaker than Tsurumi's originals. The cast iron casing, for example, had visible air pockets with small pores and bubbles. Poor overall build quality was highlighted through loose screws, unsealed joints -which were not made watertight - and unreliable motors. Using copied equipment, which contractors are expecting to perform like the original, has serious implications for the efficiency of operations on site. Under certain circumstances they could even affect the safety of workers. Copies are also detrimental to Tsurumi's brand name as customers are often unaware that they are dealing with a fake. We are not prepared to sit back and watch while this happens. Being associated with below par and shoddy workmanship is damaging to our reputation and must be stopped."
The FY Pumps case was also successfully prosecuted in Italy based on copyright infringement. FY Pumps copied not only Tsurumi's pumps but also its user manuals verbatim, a serious issue, which the courts highlighted.
In addition to copying designs and manuals, FY Pumps also used almost identical Tsurumi names for its pumps. The company added extra letters but the names remained close enough for an obvious comparison to be made. For example, the KTZ series from Tsurumi became the KBZ series from FY Pumps. Dr. Nacke adds: "The intention here was to create wrong associations in the market, which – together with the imitation – gave reason to assume a case of unfair trading and allowed us to bring our prosecution to the Italian court."