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Heat from the Grille: Ford accuses four companies of counterfeiting truck grilles, selling openly online

Toronto, Ontario — Four companies in the automotive aftermarket are in the hot seat following allegations by Ford that they have been counterfeiting and selling truck grilles, among other parts, for at least the past two years.

U.S.-based Crov Inc., Sunward Logistics USA, FD-All Together Automotive, and Chinese manufacturer Qingdao Hairunkaiyuan Auto Parts Co (QH) have all been accused by Ford of having not only sold knock-off grilles for Ford trucks, but also of openly advertising the parts on websites like freedream4x4.com.

In order to substantiate claims of federal trademark infringement, an investigation conducted by Ford, alongside state and federal law enforcement, uncovered that “a significant global counterfeiting operation, where Defendants manufacture, import, market, sell, and distribute a massive number of counterfeit ‘Ford’-branded truck grilles and other counterfeit ‘Ford’-branded parts and accessories to other third party resellers and to consumers directly, primarily through their own websites and through online marketplaces, like Amazon,” read the introduction of the OEM’s lawsuit.

Over the past two years, multiple warehouses belonging to the accused have been raided by law enforcement during which stashes of parts that, if determined genuine, could be valued at several million dollars were seized.

A November 2020 raid on a Sunward warehouse in New Jersey uncovered nearly 4,000 counterfeit truck grilles, along with 5,000 “F” and “R” letters. It is reasoned that Sunward was selling grilles that read “DODD” instead of “FORD” and shipping the “F” and “R” letters separately, in the attempt to evade attention from U.S. customs.

Counterfeit grilles and “F” and “R” letters were also seized from a Sunward warehouse in California.

Ford says the counterfeiting operations “have resulted in consumer confusion and have harmed Ford’s business and the consumer goodwill associated with the Ford brand. Defendants, of course, also profited tremendously from their illegal conduct, at the expense of Ford and end customers duped into buying cut-rate counterfeit replica products, parts, and accessories.”

The counterfeit parts “were, and are, of substantially different and lower quality than Ford’s genuine high quality products,” the complaint states.

The automaker also points out the safety concerns that come with buying a counterfeit part on its global brand protection website, saying that Ford grilles “work together the way Ford engineers intended to ensure proper fit, function, and most importantly, safety. Using Ford collision parts to repair your vehicle guarantees that it will have the same structural performance characteristics as it did with the original parts, giving you peace of mind in the event of a subsequent collision.”

Of the four companies named in Ford’s complaint, Sunward is thus far the only to file a response in court, denying the allegations, while the remaining three have stayed silent.

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