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Cisco On Combating Gray Market, Fraudsters ‘Undercutting’ $1.2B In Legit Channel Business With Counterfeit Goods

‘There are temptations out there. Be aware, be careful, especially in these times. There are many fraudsters out there that are trying to cheat you out of legitimate business. And if it’s too good to be true, it probably is,’ says Al Palladin, Cisco’s legal director of Global Brand Protection, to the company’s ‘good guy’ partners.

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How big is the problem right now?

Admittedly, the problem has increased because of increased time to market. Customers are impatient and sometimes they don’t follow the guidance that our team provides. A key function of Cisco Brand Protection is education. We’re an enforcement and engineering group, but the third piece is education. We’re providing more and more resources for customers, [including] a primer on ‘Don’t forget to check the credentials of the resellers,’ [so] they can ascertain that these are legitimate sources of supply. Sometimes there are constraints on brand-new goods, but we partner with our wonderful Cisco Refresh team because the availability of products is addressed by those that are being remanufactured, in essence, recycled. And those products come with the guarantees that customers need [and] the latest and greatest versions of software licenses and warranties that are associated with those products. That’s a very legitimate source of resupply for everybody around the globe that we’re promoting.

Given the growing concerns that we have with counterfeit, we recently launched an Identify Counterfeit platform, and my team is responsible for a number of security features, [including] the so-called power-off state. So, before a customer plugs in something that they think is Cisco that could potentially damage their network, we just remind customers there are security labels that have security features that Cisco provides—holograms and security strips and such that the customer can look at very carefully to identify [genuine products]. And if they have any doubt, our team is on standby. Due to the global nature of our work, we respond typically within 24 to 48 hours to any tips or questions that we may get from a customer or a partner. Partners are also the good guys. They’re a tremendous source of information and when they see others undercutting them or they suspect something, they work with us on cleaning up things.

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