Definitions of Counterfeit Components

Electronics Manufacturing Industry Definition

The following definition* of counterfeit electronic components and boards was developed by the Electronics Manufacturing Productivity Facility (EMPF) of the American Competitiveness Institute (ACI)

  • Substitutes or unauthorized copies of a product
  • A product in which the materials used or the performance
    of the product has changed without notice
  • A substandard component misrepresented by the supplier

Per recent correspondence with the ACI/EMPF, the second item applies to changes in materials or performance made by the original part or material manufacturer without notifying the user before offering the part.

* B. Partee, “Counterfeit Components”, (December 2003), B. Partee, “Empfasis article - Counterfeit Components (December 2003)”,, e-mail received 1 November 2006

Semiconductor Manufacturing Industry Definition

The following definition was provided by Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force (ACTF) of the Semiconductor Industries Association (SIA) * (derived from the ACI/EMPF definition)

  • Substitutes or unauthorized copies of a product
  • A product as defined by the manufacturers part number ID, date code and Manufacturers ID in which the materials used or the performance of the product has changed without notice by someone other than the original manufacturer of the product.
  • A substandard component misrepresented by the supplier

* J. Stradley (chairman), “Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force”, December 05, 2006

Independent Distributor Industry Definition

The following definitions* were developed by the Independent Distributors of Electronics Association (IDEA)

  • Counterfeit Product: Items that are produced or distributed in violation of intellectual property rights, copyrights, or trademark laws.
  • Fraudulent Product/Transaction: Items that are deliberately altered in such a way as to misrepresent the actual quality of the item with intent to defraud or deceive the purchaser. Any information omitted or means taken to mislead the purchaser to believe that such items are authentic or lawful.

Using the Term "Counterfeit"

“Quality independent distributors do not typically use the term "counterfeit" unless the manufacturer of the product states that they have determined the product is counterfeit in writing. Instead independent distributors typically condition the term "counterfeit" with the word "suspect", meaning that based on the expertise that resides within that independent distributor's business that they suspect that the part may indeed be counterfeit.”

Additional definitions developed for

  • Refurbished, used and unused parts
  • Franchised Distributor, Independent Distributor, Broker

* IDEA-STD-1010-A, Acceptability of Electronic Components Distributed in the Open Market. Copyright © Independent Distributors of Electronics Association (IDEA) 2006 (

U.S. Government Definition

The following definition* was developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Environment, Safety and Health (Office of Corporate Performance Assessment)

  • A counterfeit item is a suspect item that is a copy or substitute without legal right or authority to do so or one whose material, performance, or characteristics are knowingly misrepresented by the vendor, supplier, distributor, or manufacturer.
  • A suspect item is one in which there is an indication by visual inspection, testing, or other information that it may not conform to established Government- or industry-accepted specifications or national consensus standards.
  • Suspect items must be further investigated to determine whether they are counterfeit. When an item contains indications, but insufficient evidence, of irregularities such as noncompliance with agreed-upon specifications in the manufacturing process, it may be declared suspect.

* DOE HS-32 Suspect/Counterfeit-Defective Items website ( S/CI-DI Process Guide (November 2004) S/CI Awareness Training Manual (October 2006)


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Lockheed Martin has utilized the services of EQuality Process, Inc. since 2008 and have found that the services rendered (counterfeit detection analysis) have been accurate and always completed in a timely manner enabling Lockheed Martin to meet its programs and customer’s needs.

Lockheed Martin
(Missiles & Fire Control)
JASSM Components Engineering

Hi Woody, Thank you for the report. It is a big hit over here at Fox! My boss understands the report and is taking your word on everything. Actually, he doesn’t have any new questions for you. He, as well as everybody here, is impressed with your work. We are glad to know you guys are there if we need more parts inspected. I am positive that my boss will be looking at more parts to be inspected in the future. Thanks again for your service with this recent report.

Have a great day!

Julie Balestreri
Fox Thermal Instruments, Inc.
399 Reservation Rd.
Marina, CA 93933

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