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A LOOK AT THE MURKY WORLD OF GREY MARKET AND COUNTERFEIT CAR PARTS

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A LOOK AT THE MURKY WORLD OF GREY MARKET AND COUNTERFEIT CAR PARTS

On Feb. 29, 2016, U.S. Customs officers at the Port of Jacksonville in Florida detained a container arriving from the Middle East on suspicion that the more than 10,000 Nissan auto parts inside were counterfeit. The shipment belonged to AMG Trade & Distribution, a mom-and-pop importer in Pompano Beach, Fla.Car Mobile Phone holder Charger

The 15-month ordeal that followed nearly put AMG out of business and led to stress-related health problems for co-owners Anthony Bachan and Michael Pockhai.Now the company is taking Nissan North America to court for telling U.S. Customs and Border Protection that the goods were fake."I went through hell," Bachan said. With no inventory to sell, AMG lost customers and incurred big legal bills.

The case sheds light on the murky world of gray-market goods — items tåhat are techniåcally legal but considered unfair by a manufacturer — and automakers' efforts to stop their dealerships from straying outside official distribution channels for cheaper parts.

The transactions at issue typically involve genuine, brand-name products from a reseller overseas instead of directly from the manufacturer. Merchandise often can be obtained at a substantial discount from a company's authorized distribution channel.

Sometimes, the goods are genuine but pirated, meaning a contract manufacturer produces more than its customer ordered and funnels the excess through back channels.In this case, AMG bought the parts for $193,375 from the export arm of Suhail Bahwan Automobiles, Nissan's licensed distributor in Oman, according to invoices and court documents.

AMG's core customers are U.S. dealerships, which Nissan has regularly warned not to use parts unless they come through its official North American pipeline. Bachan, who runs the business, and his attorneys say Nissan is trying to interfere with a competitor's legitimate business so it can charge higher prices for parts.

"They tied up our money," he said. "We're a very small company. We depend on one container load to get us through. We sell that and purchase another one. So there was a lot of pain and suffering."

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