Think that heavily-discounted camera is a good deal? Think again. Earlier this week, Fujifilm filed a lawsuit against over 50 camera market participants, alleging the defendants engaged in the sale of “gray market” cameras, which include cameras intended for foreign markets that are illegally reimported. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, alleges that the defendants knowingly passed off gray market products as legitimate.
Fujifilm asserts that the gray market cameras physically differ from those coming from authorized sellers, with some including different accessories. These gray market cameras often have no warranty coverage, Fujifilm says.
Counterfeit cameras are not entirely uncommon — last year, Nikon warned consumers that some online auction sites were modifying cheap Nikon DSLRs to look like the pricier versions.
Fujifilm is seeking damages from the defendants, alleging it was harmed because the discounted gray market products compete with sales of actual, warrantied cameras. Along with asking for triple damages, the lawsuit asks for lost profits, costs, attorney’s fees and punitive damages — which hopefully would be sufficient to keep any offenders from selling altered cameras again.
According to the lawsuit, Fujifilm became aware of the altered products as early as June 2016, causing concern for both the consumers who purchased the products and the brand’s reputation. “Defendants’ importation … and/or sale within the U.S. of grey market cameras intended for markets outside of the U.S. is likely to result in consumer confusion and stymie [Fujifilm North America Corporation’s] quality control efforts, causing irreparable harm to FNAC that will continue unless such conduct is enjoined,” the lawsuit claims.
While physically spotting a gray market camera is tough to do, thankfully, avoiding owning one isn’t as difficult. Camera manufacturers offer a list of authorized dealers offering legitimate products. Branching off and buying a camera from a seller not listed not only leaves you with what will likely be a counterfeit camera, but often voids any warranty. Counterfeit cameras are thus most easily avoided by working with a list of authorized dealers (like Fujifilm’s list).