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City Tech and Canon Partner to Raise Awareness on the Problem of Counterfeit Products

Professor Masato Nakamura

On May 1st, City Tech and Canon USA held an anti-counterfeiting event at the College that focused on the manufacturing, sales and proliferation of counterfeit products and how counterfeiting continues to impact both businesses and society. Engineering students made presentations and Canon set-up a display of counterfeit products, which showed how difficult it is to "spot the fake." During the event panel discussion, a group of experts highlighted the ongoing problem of counterfeit products while looking at specific actions key stakeholders are taking to help protect consumers.

Panelists included Chuck Westfall, technical advisor, Canon USA; Terrence Brady, chief legal officer, Underwriters Laboratories; City Tech Professor Masato Nakamura, Department of Mechanical Engineering & Industrial Design Technology; Mary Beth Quirk, consumer affairs specialist; and Frank Cullen, Jr., executive director of U.S. Intellectual Property Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. City Tech Associate Provost Pamela Brown was the moderator.

"Most American consumers are unaware of the full risks associated with these potentially dangerous devices. Four in ten of the U.S. consumers surveyed don't know counterfeit consumer electronics can harm them, and this lack of awareness leads to what Canon calls a 'Confidence Trap'," said Westfall. "Based on Canon's survey, consumers seem overconfident in their ability to spot a fake, and as a result, are at risk of possible harm."

City Tech student Pirvette Lee pointed out that "counterfeit tech carries significantly higher consequences than a fake Rolex or hastily copied handbag. A phony app can infect your company's devices with malware, opening the door for damage." United Laboratories' Brady added, "The knock-off purse is an important crime, but the knock-off charger that can burn your house down or kill you is where our focus is."

Counterfeiting and piracy also undermine economic development. According to the International Chamber of Commerce, the massive infiltration of counterfeit and pirated goods drains $1 trillion from the global economy and robs over 2.5 million jobs. While unsafe and ineffective products pose a risk to millions of consumers, governments, businesses and society are being robbed of hundreds of billions in tax revenues, income and jobs.

Canon USA focuses on four main areas in its anti-counterfeiting initiatives: partnering with industry and government authorities, training relevant stakeholders, working with anti-counterfeit experts, and assisting local authorities.

Education is key to stopping counterfeiting, which is why Canon partnered with City Tech, the largest public college of technology in New York State and a model for technological education.

"We're a tech college and have a lot of engineering technology students. It's very important to teach ethics as part of the curriculum since students in engineering technology can work to be a part of the solution," said Nakamura. "For instance, the development of reverse engineering as well as a combination of 3D scanners and printers makes it easier to analyze products. Students who gain skills in reverse engineering and also understand anti-counterfeiting technology can make a difference."

Educating consumers is Quirk's focus and she emphasized the importance of doing research before purchasing a product. "It's a benefit to any company to do something as simple as having a customer service center or making the resources available for consumers to do research before they buy."

"This event at City Tech is a great opportunity to get perspectives from some of the most important people who have an interest in or knowledge about this issue," said Westfall.

Canon U.S.A., Inc., is a leading provider of consumer, business-to-business, and industrial digital imaging solutions. With approximately $36 billion in global revenue, its parent company, Canon Inc., ranks third overall in U.S. patents registered in 2013 and is one of Fortune Magazine's World's Most Admired Companies in 2014. Canon U.S.A. is committed to the highest level of customer satisfaction and loyalty, providing 100 percent U.S.-based consumer service and support for all of the products it distributes.

City Tech (New York City College of Technology), of The City University of New York, is the largest four-year public college of technology in New York State and a national model for technological education. City Tech has an enrollment of nearly 17,000 students in 65 baccalaureate, associate and specialized certificate programs.

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