back to article Who'd buy a fake battery?

The Intellectual Property Office's IP Crime Group issued its annual report yesterday, and it highlights some jaw-dropping rip-offs. A gang in Hackney used "high-tech equipment" to crank out 1.3m litres of counterfeit vodka, enough to buy them penthouse apartments. A less ambitious operation churning out hand-rolling tobacco …


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  1. TeeCee Gold badge

    I bought a fake Sony battery.

    It's not a patch on the real ones, it hasn't shown any sign at all of catching fire yet....

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fuck Sony

    Just that really.

  3. IR


    I'm sure that most fake batteries are just awful cheap low capacity AAs/AAAs that have been printed with fake Duracell/Everready labels rather than things for phones and laptops.

  4. I know better

    Apple batteries

    My 2008 MBP's battery is dying slowly and it hurts me to low 100 quid on a genuine item. Then again, 20-30 quid on some random copy is likely going to end up breaking itself or worse the laptop itself. Amazon(used to be able to trust them but since the marketplace was opened up it's full of tat now) and eBay are full of knock offs.

    Rock and a hard place!

    1. KroSha


      My battery went a while back; the "Service Battery" message came up. I bought a 'compatible' battery for £40 and it's worked very well. There are some companies that do perfectly reasonable pattern parts.

      1. Jay 2

        To buy or not to buy

        A friend of mine was in the same situation for his MB. He didn't want to fork out £100 so got something off eBay. Unfortunately for him it was useless. After that and closer to home I forked out for a kosher battery for my wife's MB.

        Overall, I'm more upset with Apple for designing something that causes the battery to effectively commit suicide if it is left in a laptop for a few days with a low charge.

    2. zb

      Worth a try

      My elderly MBP is on its third battery in 4.5 years. The only one I have had trouble with is the replacement under guarantee of the original that catches fire, it started to expand and the back split. Twice I have bought cheap chinese replacements and have had no trouble.

      I don't think I would put one in a newish machine or in a MB Air where it takes too long to remove a battery. In fact I would not buy a MB Air for that reason.

  5. Anonymous Coward


    "Fake vodka" is a bit of a misnomer. It's high proof alcohol with some trace elements that're supposed to convey taste. Faked brand vodka would be more precise. Unless it's the stuff that blinds (and not merely from being "blind drunk", you know the kind I mean) and then it's grievous-harm-in-a-bottle.

    To me, a fake battery would be one that doesn't work. Off-brand would be fake under this bunch' somewhat loose, imprecise definition, but sometimes it's the only kind you can still get. What then?

    Of course, if it's clearly inferior, then I'd like to know. I too have seen pictures of capacitor shells filled with much smaller capacitors and sold as the real thing, or that brick of a usb stick with bolts for storage. And I'll agree that people producing stuff, branding it with brandnames they clearly have no rights to, then that's fake branding alright. But the kit might still be real enough. Or not, as the case may be; the reporting doesn't say.

    Yes, this is nitpicking. Legal definitions are nitpicky for the same reason techies are nitpicky; even a misplaced comma can make astounding amounts of difference. Thus the shouty "intelectual property" bods with their horribly imprecise accusations (and sometimes made up "data" fit to match the conclusion of their commissioned reports) never fail to annoy me for exactly that reason.

    I'm not defending rebranding anything and passing it off as something it isn't. I just would like to see the reporting less full of imprecise fakery. We are, after all, trying to discern which is what we expect it to be and which isn't, innit?

  6. ravenviz Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Fake batteries

    I've bought spares* for a few things, mobile phones, various cameras, they never seemed quite kosher, some not even branded, just 'cobbled together'. They worked though and helped me keep charged until I could get to a wall socket.

    Surely nothing illegal if they're not branded? They're only batteries!

    *I don't know if they were fake, they were just cheap, off eBay

    Paris gets through a few I'd suspect.

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Fake batteries

      If it is described as a Sony battery, and it isn't made by Sony, then it is an illegal fake. If it is merely described as a battery suitable for use on a particular Sony laptop, then provided it does work it isn't a fake, it is a compatible product. It may violate some patents, but trading standards doesn't get involved in that.

  7. Tom 35

    Strangely, fake batteries continue to be popular

    Strange? Just look at the price of Digital Camera batteries and it's not hard to see why they are popular. They must have about %10,000 markup!

  8. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    How weird

    "Where IP isn't effectively policed, the business soon falls into the hands of the (real) mafia."

    As opposed to the other (real) mafia of the IP-enforcing government?

    Look, are there any real problems that might need solving? Who buys fake Vodka or fake pharmaceuticals? Well, the latter case I understand what with our IP-enforcers and legislators keeping stuff expensive or off-market if not hidden behind an MD-paywall.

    "55 per cent of respondents found a link between IP crime and benefit fraud"

    What's that then? Distillers applying for stimulus money?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The healthy option

    "The tobacco had thirty times the lead content of the genuine product."

    That's awful. Smokers should ensure they give themselves lung cancer at a slower rate by inhaling smoke only from full-priced authentic tobacco.

    1. Galidron

      Cancer might be the least of their problems

      Depending on how much lead is normally in tobacco and the daily amount of tobacco smoked I would guess they would live to get Cancer. Just heavy metal poisoning.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Voted down

      2 people who are concerned that the NHS rules might be overhauled so that the taxpayer does not pay for care relating to their self-inflicted lung and throat cancers voted this down.

  10. Nights_are_Long

    It's the cost

    It's the cost, considering what it takes in cost to replace a battery from a official vendor or the OEM I am not surprised the guy who is flogging fakes or refurbs on ebay is doing VERY well.

  11. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    But, but

    I thought lead caused cognitive disorders. How can this be an issue if people are knowingly putting themselves at high risk of one of the worst forms of cancer?

  12. David Barr

    Talking about fakes

    Anyone recommend somewhere to buy real, proper genuine, not fake mobile phone batteries?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Yes fleabay

      Get cheap compatible moby battery no problem. Why should anyone pay Nokia prices for a five year old plus phone? Three quid including post & packaging. Lasted an easy 18 months no hassles. Yaaayyy for China!

  13. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Cynicism with figures...

    "The tobacco had thirty times the lead content of the genuine product."


    Now tell me if the product with 30x more lead than the other product actually breached the safety guidelines or not. That would be the important figure....

    1. H2Nick

      @dodgy geezer

      Spot on !

      If the standard levels are close to sweet FA, then 30 x SFA = still SFA

      Sounds like FUD.

  14. Mayhem

    Fake batteries

    I know probably a dozen people who have been caught out with fake replacement batteries for laptops in the past 3 years. Most of the top results in google tend to be for fairly dodgy sites.

    The problem is if your laptop is over 2 years old, you *can't* get a battery from the manufacturer any more, they just don't bother carrying stock, and anything they do carry is normally old enough that it is rapidly approaching EOL anyway. So you are forced onto the secondary market, which is a real jungle of real batteries that are old, new versions that are compatible, and cheap fakes that have the same casings, but probably only 1/3 the capacity. Frequently they don't even use the same chemistry inside, we found one made up with unlabelled AA batteries, and some metal to bring the weight up. Others are old nicad cells repurposed.

    If you use a reputable brand dealer, you are at least guaranteed of a reasonable quality replacement, but usually at double, sometimes triple expected price depending on how popular or common the battery is.

  15. Mike 137 Silver badge

    a teaspoon of vodka?

    "1.3m litres" - did you mean "1.3M litres"? if so, you're only a factor of 10^7 out.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      teaspoon probably not enough to report.

      Want pedantic stuff? The m is attached to 1.3, not to the "litre" unit so it does't stand for millilitres, nor microlitres nor Mega litres although that could be. Just "1.3 million" litres. Be normal.

      1. T.a.f.T.

        using a word not a symbol

        ml not m litres

        if it is an abbreviation of million it should also be m' to indicate where the missing letters are as in couldn't and you're.

    2. T.a.f.T.


      Was about to say:

      >1.3m litres

      "who cares about 1.3 mili-liters of Vodka!"

    3. Graham 32

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      And the difference between milli (10^-3) and million (10^6) is 10^9.

      King Pedant, signing off.

  16. Dom 3

    batteries from ebay

    Two batteries ago I bought the genuine Dell item, it held a good charge and lasted three years.

    Then I got a non-Dell item; never worked that well and needed replacing after 18 months.

    Now I've got another non-Dell replacement. Works okay except that the laptop suddenly dies when

    the charge level drops to 30% or so. I can't help wondering if it's actually a 4-cell job masquerading as a six-cell one.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    ... some jaw-dropping rip-offs ?!?

    Just don't get me started on printer ink ...

  18. Jon Smit

    Benefit fraud?

    We've been told time and time again, that anyone involved in high value crimes were connected to terrorism. Now they're all on the dole. I this a subliminal attempt to convince us that crime doesn't pay?

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  20. Mr Spoon


    Maybe I've just been lucky but I always buy 3rd party batteries. My Moto Milestone currently has a 3500mAh extra capacity that knocks the socks off the standard one and costs half as much delivered from China. My Vaio ran for ages off a 3rd party extended life battery, from Hong Kong, which cost 1/5 the price of the (lower capacity) one from Sony. Never had any problems with it, lasted longer than the original official one. I've just ordered a pair of replacement batteries for my new Canon S95 off Amazon, two for £12, vs £35 for one of the official ones. People on seem perfectly happy with them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Third party is not the same as fake. A fake battery bears the name of the manufacturer, or even the third party, but is made by someone else usually to lower specification or out of inferior materials.

  21. Ken 16 Silver badge

    High Tech Equipment?

    Not just a still then?

  22. BigChris

    Fake PS3 controllers on Amazon

    The girlfriend bought me one for my birthday, except I found out almost immediately that it was a fake. I read some comments on Amazon before I realised she bought it, so I was going to buy one direct from Amazon and not one of the other sellers.

    How did I know it was fake? By the model number mismatch on the sealed box and the controller that came out, the box has only English and French information instead of five languages, the CE logo was missing, the SELECT button slightly too far left, the L2/R2 buttons look different, and the PS button had a slight gap around the right edge, the list goes on...

    I also (unknowingly) bought a fake battery for my Bold 9700 - this one is a slightly lighter black and the printed text has a few flaws. Didn't realise this until I checked after finding it lasted less than the original 18 month-old battery.

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