Canon Report Finds 18% of People Bought Counterfeit Gear Unwittingly in 2013


It’s no surprise that a market as vast and broad as photography is going to have problems with counterfeit gear, but the problem might be more prevalent than you think. According to a recent study commission by Canon, it’s estimated that some 18% of consumers have purchased counterfeit goods without knowing it, despite the fact that companies like Canon often try to educate customers about this sort of thing.

Surveying 1,069 consumers who purchased electronics in 2013, Canon found out that 30% of them bought counterfeited goods, with Canon specifically noting the following statistics in their accompanying press release:

  • In 2013, 12 percent of the U.S. consumers surveyed knowingly bought fake consumer electronics, while 18 percent bought them unknowingly.
  • 40 percent of U.S. consumers surveyed were unaware that counterfeit consumer electronics may harm them.
  • 45 percent believed that counterfeit consumer electronics do the job just as well as genuine consumer electronics.
  • 97 percent wanted more information so they can identify counterfeits.
  • Millennials surveyed were five times more likely than the Baby Boomers surveyed to purchase fake goods.
  • While the majority of millennials (72 percent) surveyed consider themselves very knowledgeable in identifying a counterfeit consumer electronics product, about one in four continues to unknowingly buy one.

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Canon hasn’t shared the full report yet, so it’s not clear how they specifically came up with that 18%. PopPhoto speculates that maybe Canon took into account the number of overall counterfeit sales and subtracted the number of consumers who knowingly purchased this third-party gear. However, that is yet to be confirmed.

What we can take away from these stats (obscure as the numbers may be) is that you should ALWAYS purchase from reliable dealers such as B&H and Amazon when you’re buying gear online. Even then, there’s a slight chance you may be receiving counterfeit goods, but the risk is significantly lower, and it’ll be much easier to settle the situation.

(via PopPhoto)

  • Andy Austin

    This is just a scare tactic by Canon to get people to use Canon’s official battery that costs 4 times as much as it should. There’s also a big difference between counterfeit, as in people selling fake batteries with Canon branding, and getting a 3rd party battery that work just as well.

  • Scott

    If they’d stop ripping us off on accessories, I’d stop buying 3rd party.

  • OtterMatt

    I’ve never bought counterfeit, I very purposefully and carefully source my knockoff gear. I mean, my Yongnuo (or however you spell that crap) speedlight is essentially a SB-900 without TTL, but it’s $60 instead of $400. Why the hell would I pay full price to not need to learn to control my flash manually?

  • FelipeGR

    I think the key is the distinction between 3rd party and counterfeit.

    I have used 3rd party batteries for a long time, with no issues, however, all came from brands I (and many others) consider reliable (Duracell, Lenmar), no issues as of yet. However, I am not a fan of using anything other than genuine accessories while the cameras are new or under warranty, but when it comes to a battery for my EOS-1Ds (for which I paid a whopping $600 or so), I’m certainly not going to spend $120 for a genuine NP-E3, when a $35 3rd party should do the job just fine.

    Counterfeits are usually a whole different story, because they are typically made to lower standards, sloppier tolerances and are often missing critical safety components. This is an issue not just for camera batteries, but it has been brought up in illumination tools forums (a popular flashlight battery is the CR123A lithium, of which a poorly made cell can be quite dangerous). And the risk is that you may not know if its a good battery or not unless you take a very close look at it and look for the text, graphics, the country of manufacture, etc. This is made worse by the proliferation of amazon storefronts and fulfilled by Amazon, simply because people trust Amazon and think everything is genuine. As a consequence of this, Amazon has lost a ton of my business in camera related gear.

    What’s the most dangerous issue in general with counterfeit batteries? Fires. NiMH batteries usually leak and make a mess. Lithium batteries usually create some spectacular flames and lithium fires are quite difficult to put out, there’s a reason why people in the R/C scene usually use charging bags. Personally, I wouldn’t risk my apartment, and any of my stuff in general, over saving a little bit of money in a battery. Legitimate batteries have suffered from fires and explosions (and so has the Ferrari 458), but usually the manufacturers are pretty fast to solve the problem, with counterfeits, you really can’t do much about this.

  • RonT

    Of course there is a huge difference between 3rd party and counterfeit – counterfeit are offbrand goods with ‘Canon’ stamped on them, instead their own brand and sold as ‘Canon’, not Canon compatible. 3rd party items are often a viable alternative to brandname and you know what you are getting and pay accordingly.

    Counterfeit you believe to be the real deal, so fraud is a integral part of the problem of counterfeiting.

    Most of this counterfeit traffic is occurring on eBay I should think, increasingly more of a risk on Amazon as well. Much easier to shift fraudulent goods when there is no direct contact with the buyer.

  • RonT

    I doubt it’s a scare tactic. Much as Canon, et al, dislikes 3rd party items they don’t have much choice about tolerating them as these are quite legal.
    Canon are the largest camera company in the world by a huge margin, so it’s logical that they’d be a primary target for counterfeiters.
    It’s always happened to some extent, probably just easier for counterfeiters now thanks to online sales sites and the fact that there are far more accessory items for photographic equipment now.

  • RonT

    You’re quite right, counterfeiters trade on the reputations of their targets and their selling venues to be successful, so if eBay and Amazon, etc don’t vet their sellers thoroughly (and it’s hard to see how you’d achieve this perfectly) before lending their respective names to fulfillment options then it’s fish-in-a-barrel time for the poor clients.

  • Jason

    3rd party is not the same as counterfeit

  • the truth hurts

    i only have 2 OEM canon batteries b/c they came w/ my camera.. i bought my others 3rd party and they’re fine to me!

  • Matt

    I keep on getting a mental image of people buying counterfit bodies and lenses and thinking is a good idea.
    Counterfit batteries should be illegal, as in harsher consequences than today. Bad batteries have cause harm, that has been chronicaled. In contrast third party batteries are just good market competition. And that is a good thing. As long as they are not sold as OEM.
    I have a suspicion that their numbers may include thrid party products, and not just counterfits.

  • NickE

    Dodgy chargers are far more dangerous than batteries. I bought a knockoff charger on eBay and nearly burnt the house down. Very poor quality 240v circuitry is very likely to start a fire. I nearly learnt the hard way but was lucky I was keeping an eye on the thing.


    I think most 3rd party stuff us ok. I have used heaps of batteries over the years and many perform better than the original that came with the body. Big difference between a brand making an alternative to the genuine and crooks trying to be passed off as genuine.

  • FelipeGR

    I actually suspect the opposite, that there are some very good counterfeits that weren’t counted as such, especially considering how many threads I’ve seen in forums discussing whether or not the unboxed LP-E6s they bought from RedJimmy (et al) fulfilled by Amazon are genuine or not.

  • Qibbix

    Is that considered as a 3rd party or counterfeit?

  • OtterMatt

    Probably 3rd party, but only because it’s not branded as Nikon or Canon. It’s the exact same cases, and the exact same internals, bulbs, etc., aside from what’s covered in copyright. Made in the same Chinese factories, much like everything else you can buy knock-offs of.