Since 1995, Underwriters Laboratories and the U.S. Customs Service have partnered in extensive and unprecedented nationwide anti-counterfeiting efforts. The partnership aims to protect American consumers from potential fire and shock hazards posed by counterfeit products entering the U.S. market. The partnership also protects UL clients, who face unfair competition from those trying to sell cheaper, often unsafe products bearing counterfeit UL marks in the United States.
Since the anti-counterfeiting operation began, UL has trained more than 1,000 Customs agents, import specialists and inspectors at 24 active points of entry around the country, including Los Angeles; Miami; San Francisco; Tacoma, Wash.; and Newark, N.J., to identify counterfeit UL marks. Customs is particularly vigilant of shipments of counterfeit electrical products from China, said to pose the greatest danger to American consumers. These products include flexible cords, cord sets, power supply cords and communication cable. When Customs inspectors identify products suspected of bearing counterfeit UL marks, they contact UL to verify their authenticity. If Customs determines that the products are counterfeit under the Tariff Laws, the products are seized and destroyed to prevent any chance of them being distributed in the United States or elsewhere.
UL also developed a program requiring the use of holographic marks for 15 types of electrical products manufactured in China, including those in two wire and cable product categories. In addition, UL works directly with Chinese inspectors and government officials to help them identify and seize products bearing counterfeit marks before they're exported to the United States. With UL's encouragement, Chinese officials have seized such products at factories throughout China. Further, UL has held seminars in six major Chinese cities, educating more than 650 manufacturers about how to legitimately acquire the UL mark for their products.
In October 1997, U.S. Customs and the UL seized about 1.8 million commonly used electrical products bearing counterfeit UL marks, with a retail value exceeding $15 million.