I built that board into a piece of test equipment that's likely to be used for 5 or 10 years. Fortunately this whole saga happened while I was still developing it - if their chip bricking driver had been released a year later, I'd probably not have known about it. Someone would connect the test PC to Windows Update in 3 years time, and the device would stop working.
Counterfeit chips are a reality, and not one that people building devices on a small scale can properly mitigate against. Not buying chips on alibaba is common sense, but not buying pre-built modules from Farnell? If you're not going to buy them from Farnell, where are you going to buy them from?
But why do you simply accept that? Have you even complained to Farnell?
Read the sundry web forums, very few people complain to their distributor. Everyone bitches about FTDI.
And that's what's really bugging me here. In the FTDI case the problem has obviously gotten out of hand. I can totally understand that the manufacturer wants to get tougher.
Why not just pop up a small window with a message "Hey, this product seems to contain counterfeit chips. Please tell us where you bought it so that _we_ can take care of the problem."
I'd prefer it if FTDI weren't utter douchebags around this whole ordeal. I understand they have to make money, but since when is it a problem when devices are API-compatible with existing device drivers? As far as I'm concerned, this is a rather common and generally beneficial thing.