In what has to be the most impressive display of
criminal initiative that we've ever seen, an organized group of conspirators in Japan, China, and Taiwan managed to
convince dozens of factories in the latter two countries that they represented Japan's NEC Corp., and got them to
manufacture pirated products under the NEC brand. According the the International Herald Tribune, not only did the
pirates duplicate versions of real NEC devices -- which, according to NEC, were "of generally good quality"
-- they actually began producing their own line of NEC-branded products, developed with R&D commissioned by NEC
business card-carrying "executives." All-in-all, the pirates had a product lineup of some fifty
different items, ranging from home theater equipment to MP3 players to PC peripherals, and were even thoughtful enough
to include counterfeit manuals and warranty documents with their goods. Apparently the ring has been operating since at
least 2004, although the real NEC only made the details known recently, following a private investigation that led to
the ringleaders' arrest and crackdowns by local authorities on the offending factories.