Most contractors probably have a torpedo level in their toolboxes, but fewer can be certain about that tool’s provenance or quality.

The mention of torpedo levels isn’t random. A leading supplier, Wisconsin-based Empire Level, has been stepping up its efforts to thwart the perennial problem of counterfeits coming into the U.S. from Asia and primarily China.

Illegal knockoffs of tools and just about every other product these days—consumer electronics, footwear, and pharmaceuticals are the most popular items— for decades have been a scourge of global proportions for North American manufacturers. One recalls instances in the 1980s, when Stanley Works brought federal marshals onto the floor of the National Hardware Show to arrest vendors that were displaying knockoffs of Stanley’s products in their booths.

Just last week, the Ministry of Trade in Qatar seized 15,000 fake tools bearing the Stanley brand. And on July 31, China and the U.S. conducted their largest coordinated raids ever, seizing 243,000 consumer electronics counterfeits at American ports.

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