Counterfeit auto lubricants damaging to cars in China
In recent weeks, a number of Chinese provinces have published notices concerning the proliferation of counterfeit auto lubricants. Lubricants bearing the marks of numerous local brands as well as Castrol failed spot checks in Guangxi, Shandong, Guangdong and Anhui Provinces. In 2016, Chinese authorities found counterfeit auto lubricants were prevalent in 22 of China's 23 provinces.
Counterfeit auto lubricants proliferate in China because they're easy to manufacture (in some cases, they're made of used engine oils) and offer lucrative profit margins - especially when the infringed marks are global heavyweights like Castrol, Mobil or Shell.
The risk of using a fake auto lubricant lies in the damage it can do to a car's engine. Fake oil may cause unnecessary wear and tear on the engine and in a worst-case scenario, the motor may prematurely die.
Fake auto lubricants are commonly found on Chinese e-commerce sites like Alibaba's Taobao and even JD.com, which has a better reputation for fighting fakes. One solution would be to simply not permit auto lubricants to be listed anymore - that's how Alibaba decided to deal with phony airbags following a recent complaint from a U.S. auto industry association.
A better option could be to use big-data analytics to track suspects and provide evidence of their infringement activity to authorities. Alibaba did just that during the "Cloud Sword" campaign it conducted together with the Zhejiang Public Security Bureau. The operation identified RMB 100 million worth of counterfeit auto lubricants (Mobil, Castrol and Shell) imported into China from Malaysia, according to an April report in China Daily. 11 suspects were arrested.
Authorities discovered 50,000 barrels of phony engine oil at warehouses in Guangzhou and Yiwu, a city in Zhejiang. China's General Administration of Customs says that the case was "the most important in 2016" pertaining to IP protection, adding that it was the first time a mainland Chinese citizen had been caught selling counterfeit products made overseas online.