Page Overview: BMW Group - Brands & Services - Brand protection


Joy can not be copied.

The illegal production and worldwide sale of counterfeit BMW parts, accessories and lifestyle articles has increased substantially in recent years. The BMW Group follows the clear objective of protecting customers against product counterfeits and their consequences.

A BMW with transparent bonnet and view of original parts.

In order to verify a correct documentation the BMW Group Brand Protection Team provides the measurement results.

Brand protection flyer.

Counterfeit products. Profit for a few – damage for many.

Fake products. Real consequences:

Brand and product piracy is becoming an increasingly serious problem for companies and economies. Counterfeit goods and imitations affect not only the cosmetic, clothing, shoe and electronic industries, but also high-tech industries such as mechanical engineering and the automotive sector.

The consequences affect everyone:
Companies suffer losses in revenue. They can also be affected by damage to their image and brand through complaints when consumers use poorer-quality products, which damage health or cause financial losses. Alongside these direct consequences, customers can also pay a heavy indirect price for their lucrative bargains - for example, if product piracy leads to job losses. Fake products also avoid payment of customs and excise duties. This penalises the entire economy and therefore every individual.

Iconographic representation of the impact of counterfeit BMW products.

Risks and dangers.

BMW Group products are the end result of intensive development and have to pass extensive quality checks. With an Original BMW Group product, customers can rely on the very highest quality standards. Counterfeit products, on the other hand, frequently fail to live up to this promise of high quality, due to the fact that they are often made from inferior quality materials. If these parts are crucial for safety, such as brakes, wheel rims or steering components, lower quality can influence and impair their functional safety and the interaction with the vehicle. This can then result in considerable risks for the driver, passengers and other road users.

Not all of the consequences of product piracy are immediately obvious; however, they can often be serious and far-reaching. The aim of the manufacturers and retailers of counterfeit goods is usually to achieve high profit margins - which can be synonymous with the use of inferior-quality materials or the disregard for quality assurance. The ethical aspects of manufacturing counterfeits should also be considered: Products are primarily manufactured in third-world countries under conditions that can at times be fatal. In these instances, occupational, health and environmental protection plays a secondary role or, in the worst cases, this protection is non-existent.

Profiting from the image of international brands through the production of counterfeit goods and thus earning money quickly, combined with the low risk of being punished, has led to product and brand piracy becoming a major industry. Especially in organised crime, this industry plays an important role, as the OECD study "The Economic Impact of Counterfeiting and Piracy" reveals. It cannot be ruled out that by purchasing counterfeit products, consumers are supporting criminal networks.

Time and again, supposedly genuine parts are offered at low prices in the automotive industry. Subsequent analysis of these parts often reveals them to be low-quality counterfeits. Using these parts can have far-reaching negative consequences; in the best-case scenario – apart from the fact that the customer's expectations in terms of quality are not met – the part wears out more quickly, resulting in more visits to the workshop and consequently more costs. In the worst-case scenario, however, the counterfeit damages individual components inside the car, endangering not only the safety of the driver and passengers, but also innocent third parties.

Accident and health risks result from.

Oil filters are frequently copied by product counterfeiters. At first glance, fake products are often indistinguishable from the original. A test under laboratory conditions, however, reveals the truth: The illustration on the left shows an Original BMW oil filter after the laboratory test, while the one on the right shows a counterfeit oil filter after the same test. In terms of the technical aspects, such as the filter medium, filtration performance and filter surface, the counterfeit spare part is totally inadequate. Radial leaks and lower-quality filter paper mean that particles can pass through the filter, leading to increased wear and damage to the engine over the long term.

The BMW Group pursues the clear objective of protecting customers against product counterfeits and their consequences. To this end, the company's Brand Protection team works closely with customs officers and other authorities in over 75 countries worldwide, tracking down counterfeit goods, prohibiting their sale and seeking the prosecution of those responsible for the committed piracy. As a result, a large proportion of safety-endangering fakes can be stopped at the border.

An original and a counterfeit oil filter next to each other.

Product piracy can also have financial consequences for consumers. If a counterfeit spare part causes damage to a vehicle, this is not covered by the BMW Group's warranty and any warranty claim will be rejected.

There is also the danger that the customs authorities will confiscate the items. The customer will then not only be left without the bought product, but may also be charged customs duties and fines.

Financial disadvantages may result.

Original and counterfeit.

Counterfeit products often look very like the original. This makes it difficult to identify possible counterfeits quickly and without detailed product knowledge, it is sometimes virtually impossible. This webpage illustrates several examples of counterfeit and original products and suggests measures for reducing the risk of unintentionally playing into the hands of product pirates.

Are you sure?

Original or counterfeit? Sometimes it's not easy to tell the difference. But the devil lies in the detail and using counterfeit parts can result in considerable safety risks.

Wheel Rims.
Original and fake brake pads lying side by side.
An originaler and a counterfeit air filter next to each other.
Original and counterfeit spark plugs next to each other.
An original and a counterfeit oil filter next to each other.

Protection against counterfeits.

Question unusually cheap offers. Often, a significantly lower price is the first indicator of a counterfeit product. However, there may also be counterfeits that are priced at around the same level as the original. So it is important to choose sources carefully and if in doubt, ask a trusted BMW Group partner.

Pay attention to the logo quality and colours.

By using the BMW Group's logos or wordmarks, counterfeiters try to make it look like an original part. Poor-quality lettering and logos, or different colours and compositions are good reasons to be suspicious. Here are a few examples of the BMW logo being used incorrectly:

A series of counterfeit BMW logos.

Note the quality of the packaging.

The use of counterfeit packaging with BMW Group brands is an infringement of trademark law. Be cautious if parts are offered in original packaging bearing the old BMW design. This can be the first clue that the part is counterfeit. Inferior quality packaging can also indicate a counterfeit product. Compare the new (left) and old (right) BMW original packaging:

Original and counterfeit packaging.

If in doubt, ask a BMW Group partner.

You can rely on the advice of a BMW Group partner. Original spare parts from the BMW Group are a safe choice when car components need to be replaced.

Report any violations.

The BMW Group's Brand Protection team is actively combating product piracy worldwide and training everyone involved in the sales process, such as customs departments and authorities. If you spot what you suspect to be a counterfeit product, please contact the Brand Protection team. Doing so will protect your own safety, as well as the safety of many other people!

Legal background.

It is no longer just luxury goods that are affected by product and brand piracy, but also products ranging from medicine or car components to entire vehicles. Counterfeit products violate the intellectual property rights of the brand owner and damage the reputation of companies such as the BMW Group. They can also affect customers directly, since any damage caused by using a counterfeit part, such as engine damage due to a low-quality oil filter, can invalidate the warranty and any claim for liability. Customers may then have to pay for any damage caused themselves.

Counterfeit BMW merchandising.
Counterfeit products in BMW design.
Black paragraph sign on white background.