SINCE it is already a common occurrence that the products of popular Western brands are being copied, it would be a big surprise that Filipino-made brands are being used without authorization on products that are made in China.
Such is the case of Rota alloy rims that are manufactured by Philippine Aluminum Wheels Inc. (PAWI) that is the pioneer manufacturer of alloy rims in the country and Southeast Asia.
PAWI president Michael Rojas said he was surprised when he got reports a few years back that the Rota brand was being used for rims made in China.
“Somebody is faking my wheels in China,” he added.
“I’m not a big player. They also have fakes here [in the Philippines],” Rojas said.
The discovery of Chinese-made rims bearing the Rota brand as early as 2013 has resulted in two cases filed in the United States and Singapore.
“In the States, we have a litigation there, we sued a party there. And there’s one is Singapore. It’s a case for trademark use and not copyright because they are using our [brand]name,” Rojas said.
He warned that while Chinese-made rims carrying the Rota brand look attractive, they may not measure up to the standards PAWI has been complying with over the years.
“If you look at their products, they are beautiful, the paint is good. But inside, that’s where you see the defects. When you strip the paint, you may find bubbles,” Rojas said.
“They [rims with bubbles]can crack, because the surface is porous,” he added.
Surprisingly, the Chinese-made rims carrying the Rota brand have prominent markings of the brand. On the other hand, most of the genuine Rota rims do not have the brand name prominently displayed.
Rojas said that PAWI continuously carries out tests using the latest equipment from Japan to make sure its products are safe.
One such test simulates hard cornering that subjects a rim to forces that can make an inferior rim crack or deform. The tests are conducted randomly on newly-produced batches and on new rim designs of PAWI.
Rojas said PAWI comes up with at least two new rim designs every month.
While he finds it flattering that there are Chinese-made rims carrying the Rota brand in the US and Singapore, he pointed out that the matter presents a challenge to the company.
“So that means I’m big-time and they are faking us. But it’s a headache,” he said.