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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

Bench Talk


Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics

Certain Is Better David Fambrough

Safeguarding Your Company’s Engineering Projects and Designs from Counterfeit Components

(Source: FrankHH/

When purchasing electronic components, certain is always better.

Hard to believe, Super Bowl LV is already well behind us. In Europe, football fans have the Champions League final to look forward to in May. Nonetheless, always one of the favorite highlights of American football is the Super Bowl commercials. They often bring the same air of excitement or disenchantment as the stars on the field. And, this season’s lineup of ads didn’t disappoint.

One commercial that really stood out in Super Bowl LV starred Tracy Morgan, a former Saturday Night Live comedian who amusingly pointed out the difference between “pretty sure” or “certain” for Rocket Mortgage. The commercial includes a scene in which a family is skydiving from a plane with grade-school backpacks instead of parachutes. When one kid looks inside and declares, “mine has a sandwich,” I couldn’t help but smile. The moment Morgan says, “I’m pretty sure these hornets aren’t the murderous type,” pokes a stick into a hornet’s nest and lands on the father's head caused me to actually LOL. Have you seen it?

The same scenario and potential negative repercussions also carry over to purchasing electronic components. Counterfeit components are literally a ticking time bomb because of their heightened propensity for triggering a malfunction or failure that can lead to personal injury and even death. Not only that, but these fake components can also destroy a manufacturer’s or company’s reputation for delivering reliable, high-quality products.

Proliferation of Counterfeit Electronic Parts in the Supply Chain

Staggeringly, the proliferation of counterfeit electronic parts into the manufacturing supply chain costs in excess of a billion dollars (USD) each year. Counterfeit electronic parts cost semiconductor manufacturers more than $7.5 billion (USD) annually in lost revenue, according to a recent report from the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA).

What drives the purchase of counterfeit parts? A few contributing factors that lead to the proliferation of counterfeit EEE parts in the market include multi-tiered supply chains, bargain hunting, scarcity of parts caused by end-of-life designations, etc. Another reason counterfeit components are on the rise is the fact e-commerce sales are exploding, making it easy for criminals to exploit shoppers through online counterfeit sales. The majority of counterfeit products are marketed through an online presence, so tracking the origin of products sold on the internet is difficult. Not surprisingly, most of these sites are based in China (beware of Taobao, Alibaba, and AliExpress).

Even closer to home is online giant Amazon. A recent Wall Street Journal article highlighted a fact that confirms findings from a study of counterfeit products in the supply chain: If you’re buying on Amazon, watch out for counterfeits. Keep in mind that the majority of listings on Amazon aren’t actually items sold by Amazon; they’re products from third-party sellers. Although many third-party sellers are upstanding merchants, a lot of them are peddling fakes. Purchasing electronic components for too low a price often follows the adage of “too good to be true.”

Safeguarding Engineering Projects and Designs from Counterfeit Components

What can you do to safeguard your company’s engineering projects and designs from counterfeit components? Here are the two quick and easy ways to secure your supply chain: Check to see if your source is an ECIA and CEDA member and make sure you’re buying from an AS9100D/ISO9001:2015-registered distributor.

This standard provides the most stringent anti-counterfeit controls and highest quality standards in the industry. Developed especially for aviation, space, and defense organizations to keep all fraudulent components out, it places high-level traceability back to the part’s origin for every electronic component stocked and shipped. All of which leaves no doubt that the components you’re receiving are 100 percent authentic.

When it comes to being 100 percent certain, it’s important to know who you are buying from and who is in your supply chain. The best way to receive genuine parts is to purchase them directly through authorized sources/distributors. Let’s be real. When counterfeit parts sneak into your supply chain and cause problems from production shutdowns to product failures, it’s never a laughing matter. Fake parts are nothing but a four-letter F word.


As Tracy Morgan clearly points out, “certain” is always better than “pretty sure.” So don’t risk it. When it comes to sourcing electronic components to fulfill your bill-of-material (BOM) needs, you can always trust Mouser to deliver 100 percent genuine components—100 percent of the time. And that should make every buyer smile.

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David Fambrough is a technical writer for Mouser Electronics. He’s adamant that Lost in Space, Star Trek and James Bond have had a strong role in inspiring innovation and new design.

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