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HP fights counterfeiting in Asia

Hewlett-Packard has created what it calls tamper-proof boxes, vowing that its customers will no longer have to worry about buying fake inkjet cartridges.

SINGAPORE--The next time you step into a computer store for a Hewlett-Packard inkjet cartridge, the product will not be counterfeit.

This is HP's vow to its customers after 14 months of research and development on tamper-proof cartridge boxes.

Security features incorporated into the cartridge boxes include perforation seals and security labels that use "color shifting" ink. The ink is said to be similar to that used by the U.S. Treasury on its $10 and $20 bills.

"It is hard for people to copy the security label," said Veronique Malan, an HP Asia-Pacific supplies business manager.

The newly packed cartridges were shipped in volume across the Asia-Pacific on May 1, Malan said.

Malan would not reveal HP's investment in the revamp, but noted that the project "will affect our bottom line positively" as the company recaptures market share from counterfeiters.

She was referring to the growing number of customer complaints that fake cartridges were being placed in tampered HP packaging.

In November, the Philippines National Bureau of Investigation raided several companies, seizing "large quantities" of counterfeit toner cartridges after a tip-off from HP.

In Singapore, the last raid was conducted in 1997, when counterfeit HP ink cartridges were seized from PK Computers at Funan Center, according to HP.

Malan declined to reveal losses incurred due to such fraud but noted that illegal sales tend to be prevalent in "bigger" countries such as China, Taiwan, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.

In addition to the security features, the packaging will also be more "consumer-friendly," Malan said. Among other enhancements, HP's lengthy product codes will now be replaced by clearly marked two-digit numbers and prominently displayed color or black ink labels.

CNET Singapore's Irene Tham reported from Singapore.