Counterfeit Replacement Projector Lamps

Counterfeiting of projector and RPTV lamps is becoming an increasing problem facing our industry and one that can have significant consequences – so here is some information about counterfeit lamps that you might find helpful.

Types of counterfeit lamp

1 The “clone”

Much like the fake Rolex, some counterfeit lamps use none of the original parts that make up the genuine article, but use a series of cheap components that are stamped with the name and possibly part number of the original product. These are potentially the most dangerous type of counterfeit lamps, in that they may be poorly manufactured, with little if any regard to safety standards. At the same time they are also the easiest to spot as a simple side-by-side comparison against the lamp being replaced will usually reveal a number of obvious differences.  If you do receive a “clone” lamp do send it back to your supplier, as well as being illegal, like the fake Rolex, it may not work for very long.

2 Same bulb different housing

A lamp comprises of 2 main components, the bulb (the bit that creates the light) and the cage or housing (the bit that holds the bulb and is used to fit the lamp into your projector). Bulb manufacturers sell to both the original projector manufacturer (OEM) and a series of authorized 3rd parties such as Diamond Lamps, who source cages from elsewhere and produce their own branded aftermarket replacement lamps. Because such manufacturers have lower overheads than the OEM they are generally cheaper than the OEM version. Some unscrupulous companies are taking these aftermarket bulbs, sourcing a cage similar to the OEM version and putting them in boxes branded as the manufacturer.  They are then either selling them at full price making an additional profit or at a reduced price in order to “steal” business from the OEM. The quality of these lamps may be as good as the OEM lamp, but this practice is still ILLEGAL.

3 Grey lamps

The third category of counterfeit lamps comes from factories that manufacture lamps for OEMs and produce additional quantities or product overruns. They then sell these onto the “grey” market, usually at knock down prices and in turn they find their way into the channel at reduced prices. As these are in effect the same product as the OEM, they cannot be identified as counterfeit and it is down to the manufacturer to try to prevent this activity occurring.

What are the issues with counterfeit lamps?

Firstly, counterfeiting is illegal and any individual within an organization that knowingly participates in buying or selling counterfeit lamps can be liable to prosecution by the state, with significant fines and possible imprisonment amongst the penalties.

Specifically, there are a number of issues that the authorities are trying to protect against.

End user safety

Counterfeit lamps may be of poor quality or even dangerous. In the first instance they contain mercury so if they are poorly manufactured a leakage of hazardous material may result. Even if the bulb is from a genuine source, the cage may not be and there have been examples of overheating and projectors breaking or even catching fire.

 Trademark or Brand infringement

Projector and bulb manufacturers invest great sums of money in designing and developing high quality products.  A significant part of their return on that investment comes from the sales of replacement lamps. Counterfeiting cheats the brand manufacturers’ of their return.

Invalidation of warranty

Not only does using a counterfeit lamp deprive the brand manufacturer of their return on investment, it is also likely to invalidate any warranty that comes with the projector. It would be a real shame to invalidate the 3 year warranty on a $2,000 projector for the sake of saving a few dollars on a lamp.

Protection of legitimate businesses

Organizations that buy or sell counterfeit products are usually undercutting the prices of the legitimate channel which mean that genuine law-abiding businesses cannot compete with the price.

Reduction of organized crime

Whilst the selling of counterfeit projector lamps does not seem like a major underworld activity, it is a fact that all types of counterfeiting have links to organized crime and the use of slave or child labor and it is everyone’s duty to take reasonable steps to avoid being involved in the buying or selling of counterfeit lamps.

In the next edition of the BLOG we will provide some assistance in how to identify counterfeit lamps, and what to do when you find one. In the meantime if you would like any further assistance on this subject, or would like us to evaluate any lamps that you suspect might be counterfeit, then please call on 814-308-9459 or email

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