Sony Ericsson warns of “phone pirates”

Pirate copies of mobile phones is threatening to derail Sony Ericsson's growth, the company has admitted, pointing to fake branded phones being sold on the Asian market for a quarter of the price of the genuine product.

“All products of any value get copied. It’s also happening with our products,” said Sony Ericsson’s Nordic head of marketing, Per Alksten.

In a country such as China, which has been hailed as a copycat’s heaven and where 90 million mobile phones were sold in the first ten months of the year, there is a natural temptation to sell exclusive models at a fraction of the price.

When Sony Ericsson released its music-mobile Walkman W800 in China, pirate copies came out on the market at the same time. The Chinese company Music King has produced a version of the W800 which is almost identical to the original. Just the logo reveals that it is a copy – and it costs a quarter of the price of Sony Ericsson’s product.

“As soon as we are aware that there is a copy, our lawyers begin working intensively to stop them,” said Per Alksten.

“For us, this is about protecting our trademark and being able to guarantee that customers who buy a Sony Ericsson phone have got an original product.”

On the Swedish advertising site there has been an ad for two models of the Sony Ericsson W900 – which does not come out until next year. The price demanded is 2,500 kronor each – more than half the real retail price.

“It’s pure fraud – or theft of preview models,” warned Alksten.

TT/The Local