How to Avoid Fake Test Certificates

International IP litigator

One of my law firm’s international manufacturing lawyers got an email the other day from an American company that just learned it is in trouble here in the United States (yes, I am being deliberately vague here) for having imported and sold a whole slew of electronics products improperly listed as UL certified. The US company designs the products and sells them under its own brand name. They wanted our help in finding a new manufacturer that would actually secure UL approval for their products, and not use bogus certificates falsely claiming approval.

Our suggestion was they start working directly with UL to secure any necessary approvals, as that would greatly increase the chances of any approval (or even disapproval) being legitimate. The American company initially mildly complained about having to pay for the UL approval themselves, but quieted rather quickly when I pointed out the following two things:

1.  It had probably never had to pay for any UL testing with its previous manufacturer or only paid a fraction of the real cost. I am guessing the Chinese manufacturer got the project by underbidding based on its plan to forge UL certification.

2.  If the Chinese manufacturer does pay for UL testing and certification it will both need to charge more for the product (which in turn means its foreign product buyers end up indirectly paying for the UL certification in any event) and it will — unless there is a clear agreement to the contrary — be the one that holds the UL certification, making it more difficult/expensive for the American company to switch to another manufacturer at some future point.

What do you think?

6 responses to “How to Avoid Fake Test Certificates”

  1. I agree, the American company will end up paying for it anyway.
    The American company should work directly with UL (or another testing lab accredited to deliver UL certifications), pay the testing lab, and get the certificate in its own name.
    This way, that American company “owns” the certification, and the Chinese manufacturer can’t use it to sell the same product to other customer. Granted, they can make/buy a fake one, but at least it reduces risks.

  2. I agree, the American company will end up paying for it anyway.
    The American company should work directly with UL (or another testing lab accredited to deliver UL certifications), pay the testing lab, and get the certificate in its own name.
    This way, that American company “owns” the certification, and the Chinese manufacturer can’t use it to sell the same product to other customer. Granted, they can make/buy a fake one, but at least it reduces risks.

  3. UL is arrogant and expensive. They don’t care about your factory. Need to have them certified? Yeah, a UL inspector will be out in a few months.
    You contract with an already UL-qualified factory. Duh. Or if you must, use ETL instead. They certify to the same standard as UL, but actually take customers seriously.

  4. UL is arrogant and expensive. They don’t care about your factory. Need to have them certified? Yeah, a UL inspector will be out in a few months.
    You contract with an already UL-qualified factory. Duh. Or if you must, use ETL instead. They certify to the same standard as UL, but actually take customers seriously.

  5. Wouldn’t there be a UL certification database of companies worldwide that have received a certificate?

  6. Wouldn’t there be a UL certification database of companies worldwide that have received a certificate?

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