Help Center - What Do I Need to Know About Counterfeit Printer Cartridges?

What Do I Need to Know About Counterfeit Printer Cartridges?

What are counterfeit cartridges?

Counterfeit cartridges are printer cartridges that are made to look just like OEM (original equipment manufacturer) cartridges but are typically a much lower quality. Counterfeiters hope to fool you into thinking you are buying a particular brand's cartridge by illegally copying the design, parts, and even patents.

Selling these counterfeit printer cartridges is a blatant violation of the original manufacturer's intellectual property rights and is illegal to produce and sell. Since they are produced illegally, they are not manufactured with the same quality and standards as legitimate manufacturers.

Image original versus counterfeit HP 940XL cartridge

How do I spot a counterfeit printer cartridge?

Truthfully, it can be tough to spot counterfeit ink cartridges and toner cartridges because they are made to look like the original ones. Most legitimate cartridges have particular parts that help you identify them as legitimate. Some use barcodes, color-changing security labels, and scannable QR codes. You'll want to ensure the manufacturer's logo is present when purchasing an OEM product.

Another way to tell if a product is a counterfeit is by observing the website where it is being sold. They are often found on third-party retailing websites or even on Amazon by third-party sellers. Counterfeits are also often found at meager prices. However, this isn't always the case since many businesses sell legitimate products on promotions, meaning they have discounted prices.

For example, counterfeit HP ink cartridges are often detected in three ways. One is by scanning the security seal using a QR code scanner app. You can also check if the cartridge's security label has been tampered with. Lastly, counterfeit HP ink cartridges can be detected by entering the serial of the security label on the official HP website.

Image of original versus counterfeit Epson cartridge

How does this affect me?

Due to their illegal production, counterfeit ink cartridges and counterfeit toner cartridges are of much lower quality. Prints can sometimes include noticeable streaks and splotches on your printouts.

Counterfeiters do not hold their manufacturing process, parts, and ink to the same standards as legitimate manufacturers. They can also reduce the life of your printer, as the cartridges may leak and not correctly fit your printer. The leaks can cause significant damage to your printer and are a hassle to clean.

Image of clean printouts versus with streaks and splotches

The bottom line:

Counterfeit ink cartridges and toner cartridges may be cheap, but they are lower quality than legitimate ones. If you are looking for affordable replacement cartridges, there are plenty of options for excellent quality compatible and remanufactured cartridges.

Remanufactured and compatible ink and toner cartridges are guaranteed to function like original cartridges. You can check out our guide on remanufactured ink cartridges if you want to know more about their difference from OEM ink cartridges.