Is my optical drive stolen/counterfeit/otherwise illegal?

About a year ago I replaced the DVD drive in my laptop with a blu-ray drive I got from Amazon. It works perfectly well and I have never had any functional issues with it.
It accidentally popped out of my laptop today (Nothing wrong with the drive, but I lost the screws that secure it long ago), and I noticed some strange things about it. It is supposedly a Panasonic, and to the right of the serial number is the word “Sample” with a black box around it. It also was manufactured in 2011, but has a QC sticker written in Chinese dated 2013. Also, none of the specs are printed on the label. I have torn down and built computers for a long time, and every optical drive I have ever seen was labelled with speed and disks it could play.

It’s probably an engineering sample. After prototyping, companies will often do a short production run just to see if they have all of the kinks worked out in the design and manufacturing of the product. These engineering samples are often given or loaned to product designers. Let’s say for example you are designing a spiffy new laptop and you want to put the latest and greatest optical drive in it. You contact the drive manufacturer and they tell you that they have a spiffy new drive coming out that will be perfect for your new product but it’s not available yet. But they can give you an engineering sample so you can design your product around it. By the time your spiffy new laptop goes into production, the drive is also in full production.

I’m guessing someone managed to end up with an engineering sample and sold it on Amazon.

Engineering samples aren’t always fully functional and may be a bit buggy.

I’ve got several pieces of industrial I/O equipment in my lab that are engineering samples.

OP, when you say you got it from Amazon do you mean you got it from Amazon itself or from a third party seller on Amazon?

I think engineer_comp_geek covered it pretty well. In my industry I end up in contact with lots of engineering samples. Ostensibly there is supposed to be some kind of chain of custody that results in the sample eventually being returned to the vendor; in practice, usually what happens is that the sample gets forgotten about, and eventually thrown in the e-waste recycling bin. I could easily snag these parts if I wanted and no one would be the wiser or harmed in any way.

There’s a good chance that there’s something a little fishy about the history of your drive, but probably not to the point of being outright stolen or counterfeit.