You raise a great point - a point that is often lost in the cacophony of lawmakers and industry discussing how to address the issue - that in the real world counterfeit components pose a real and immediate threat to the health and well-being of the men and women who rely on systems to perform.
I work for an independent distributor (Secure Components) who has aggressively pursued counterfeit avoidance certifications (we are AS6081 certified and DLA QTSL approved). We pursued these certifications because we care about doing the right thing, which in this case also happens to be good business. Too often buyers tell us they do not want to buy from us because they do not want to pay the cost of destructive testing.
They fail to understand that the cost of testing components procured from the secondary market is far less than the potential cost associated with incorporating a counterfeit part into their system, The risk of a counterfeit component infiltrating the supply chain outweighs the cost of confirming the authenticity of a part,
Although representing reused parts as new is illegal and can cause accidents, calling them "counterfeit" is misleading. I would recommend that terminology and infraction reporting distinguish between "counterfeit" (made by an unauthorized manufacturer), "used", and "misrepresented" (genuine component of a different grade or revision level) components. A clear understanding of the incidence of different categories of fraudulent parts could help direct corrective action. Better distribution channel controls, device authentication, and tamper evident features are all possibilities once we know what we need.
As we unveil EE Times’ 2015 Silicon 60 list, journalist & Silicon 60 researcher Peter Clarke hosts a conversation on startups in the electronics industry. Panelists Dan Armbrust (investment firm Silicon Catalyst), Andrew Kau (venture capital firm Walden International), and Stan Boland (successful serial entrepreneur, former CEO of Neul, Icera) join in the live debate.