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

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

Image original versus counterfeit HP 940XL cartridge

How do I spot a counterfeit printer cartridge?

Truthfully, it can be very difficult to spot counterfeit ink cartridges as well as counterfeit toner cartridges, because they are made to look like the original manufacturer's. Most legitimate manufacturer's, however, have particular parts of their label that help you identify them as legitimate. Some use barcodes, color-changing security labels, and scan-able QR codes. You'll want to make sure the manufacturer's logo is present as well if you are purchasing an OEM product.

Another way to tell if a product is a counterfeit is by observing the website it's being sold on. They are most often found on third-party retailing websites or even on Amazon by third-party sellers. They are also often found at unusually low prices. This, of course, isn't always the case, as many legitimate products can be sold at discounted or promotional prices.

For example, counterfeit HP ink cartridges are often detected in three ways. One is by scan-able security seal by a QR code scanner app. Another is by checking if the security label of the cartridge has been been tampered with. Lastly, counterfeit HP ink cartridges can be detected by going to the official HP website and entering its serial number from the security label.

Image of original versus counterfeit Epson cartridge

How does this affect me?

Counterfeit ink cartridges and counterfeit toner cartridges are typically a much lower quality due to their illegal production. This can include noticeable streaks and splotches on your printouts. Counterfeiters do not hold their manufacturing process, parts, and ink to the same standards of legitimate manufacturers.

They can also reduce the life of your printer, as the cartridges may leak and not properly 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 counterfeit toner cartridges may be cheap, but they are simply not as good quality as legitimate manufacturer's. If you are looking for affordable replacement cartridges, there are plenty of options for excellent quality compatible and remanufactured cartridges that are guaranteed to work just as well as the original manufacturer cartridges. Manufacturers also appreciate when you support their product through your purchases. Knowingly purchasing counterfeit printer cartridges is supporting an illegal trade that hurts manufacturers and simply has no benefit to you.