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John Yoswick

John YoswickJohn Yoswick is a freelance automotive writer based in Portland, Oregon, who has been writing about the collision industry since 1988. He is the editor of the weekly CRASH Network (for a free 4-week trial subscription, visit www.CrashNetwork.com).

He can be contacted at john@crashnetwork.com 

Wednesday, 08 April 2020 19:50

Shops Cautioned Tough Economy Could Spur More Counterfeit Parts, Pirated Software

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The Automotive Anti-Counterfeiting Council offers this visual guide to common indications an automotive part may be counterfeit. The Automotive Anti-Counterfeiting Council offers this visual guide to common indications an automotive part may be counterfeit.


Shops buying an aftermarket scan tool should determine whether the tool maker licensed the needed information from the automaker, or just “reverse-engineered” it by putting an OEM scan tool on a vehicle and using monitoring equipment to determine the diagnostic routines to essentially copy.


Greg Potter, of the Equipment and Tool Institute, said it’s safe to say every manufacturer of aftermarket scan tools reverse-engineers to some degree.


“Even if you are given all the great data that you (license from) the OEMs, you still have to implement those features and functions into your aftermarket tool,” Potter said. “You have to validate and verify that that tool is doing what it’s supposed to do. How do you do that? You get the OEM tool, you send a command, you see what the reaction is, you monitor that traffic, and then you take your tool and you do the same thing.


"That’s your validation effort, back and forth. That can certainly be called reverse-engineering. You are monitoring the messages from the OEM tool and making sure your tool does the same thing and gets the same responses back.”


But Donny Seyfer, of National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF), said it's not really that type of “professional” reverse-engineering that is a problem.


“It’s the, ‘How can we steal the software off the OEM tool and then sort of implement it into our own tool, and then sell it, in some cases representing it as an OEM tool,’ that’s the problem,” Seyfer said. “In some cases, they’re not even taking the (OEM tool) copyright information off. As you use it, you see that and say, ‘Huh, that’s not even the brand of the tool I’m using.’”


Seyfer that type of piracy undermines the companies producing both OEM and legitimate aftermarket tools.


“So if you buy those (pirated) tools just to save a few hundred bucks, and those other (legitimate scan tool) companies keep raising the prices because they’re spending all their time going to court (to fight the piracy,) now you’ll understand why,” Seyfer said. “Customs and border patrol snags these things constantly, by the case load. Truck loads in some cases.”


Jack Rozint, of Mitchell International, said his company’s software similarly gets pirated, and he said that the same online sources where that pirated software is being sold also often offers knock-offs of automaker scan tools for sale.

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