A campaign to hunt out unscrupulous dealers who sell fake Mercedes-Benz parts has been launched by Mercedes-Benz in the UK.

Legal action is being taken against 20 firms who Mercedes-Benz claims have infringed their intellectual property rights.

Mercedes-Benz estimates it is losing up to £5-million a year to bogus traders. The company has taken legal action in the past, but now it is mounting a determined campaign to stamp out the illegal traders.

The legal actions will also target businesses who use the registered trademarks of Mercedes-Benz and the world-famous three-pointed star logo in an attempt to pass themselves off as legitimate Mercedes-Benz dealers.

Mercedes-Benz has always been concerned about the dangers of counterfeit parts which do not meet the high standards of genuine components. In some instances, using fake parts could be life threatening.

Wade Hubbard, Director Parts and Services, DaimlerChrysler UK, said: “Mercedes-Benz has a proud history going back 114 years and we don’t want to see it blackened by what amounts to illegal activities.

“We don’t want to see people hoodwinked into buying fake parts which could ultimately be dangerous, or by buying cars and parts from dealerships who try to pass themselves off as holding our franchise.

“We are the guardians of our trademarks and intellectual property rights and we are giving a warning that anyone who attempts to use them illegally will face strong legal action by us.”

Dermot Kelly, Director of Mercedes-Benz Cars in the UK, said that traders who impersonated Mercedes-Benz dealers could be as risky as spurious parts.

He said: “People should never assume that because a showroom or forecourt has mainly Mercedes cars on view that it is an authorised dealer. I would advise anyone thinking of buying a new or used Mercedes-Benz car to deal with one of the 181 franchised outlets in the UK.

“Our approved dealerships meet very high standards set by us, their technicians are fully trained and they are accountable for every vehicle they sell. But customers simply do not have the same level of protection if they buy from so-called specialist traders, who do not hold our franchise.

“To protect our customers we will take action against any unscrupulous traders we find trying to kid the public that they are genuine franchised Mercedes-Benz dealerships when they are not.”