Thousands of fake HDMI cables seized in a single day in Taiwan

Alfonso Maruccia

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In a nutshell: A coordinated raid in major Taiwan cities led police to seize a substantial quantity of products bearing the "HDMI" brand without official authorization. If you don't know, HDMI is a registered trademark, not just a cable name.

According to reports from local broadcasters, a massive police raid recovered 3,037 counterfeit HDMI cables and other products in just one day. Several sellers were targeted in Taiwan's major cities on Wednesday, seizing goods with an infringement "market value" of over TWD$80 million ($2.6 million).

HDMI is a proprietary multimedia interface for digital devices, and cable manufacturers must pay the HDMI Licensing Administrator to get a proper license to using the brand. While non-proprietary alternatives such as DVI do exist, the HDMI brand is still extremely popular among both video enthusiasts and general consumers.

A police captain, quoted by Taiwan broadcasters, mentioned that both consumers and sellers tend to misunderstand HDMI. They use the HDMI brand as a common moniker for the namesake connection cable, likely ignoring that it's a registered trademark that manufacturers can't exploit for free.

The HDMI Association held a briefing at Computex over the summer to introduce their second-generation anti-counterfeiting certification label. Consumers are advised to look for "official" HDMI labels, which include anti-counterfeit measures such as patterns, holographic elements, and QR codes.

Statistics cited by Taiwanese reports state that between 2022 and August 2023, fake HDMI products amounting to nearly TWD$4 billion ($128 million) were sold in the country. The market value of those unauthorized goods would likely include the actual price of the cables and licensing fines as well.

The HDMI Association said manufacturers and sellers of counterfeit products will be targeted by lawsuits. However, consumers should also pay attention to the overall quality of the goods they purchase, as fake cables are often poorly designed or built and can even pose a potential fire or electrical hazard.

HDMI licensing programs provide standards and guidelines that manufacturers need to comply with to deliver quality products to customers. A proper HDMI cable must provide both a good, consistent signal and safe connections for TV sets or other multimedia devices. Access to the HDMI 1.3a specifications is currently available at no charge on the HDMI LA website, while the latest specs (2.1b) are only available through paid plans.

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