Cisco to step up fight against gray marketing and counterfeiting

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The IT manufacturer Cisco wants to intensify the fight against gray market products and counterfeits, together with its channel partners. Cisco’s announcement comes shortly after a new study found that illegal trade in IT products continues to grow.

At its Cisco Partner Summit early November in Las Vegas, the US company addressed the increasing risk that gray marketing may represent for Cisco and its channel partners. The significant rise in the trade in counterfeit products via unauthorized channels is a problem that Cisco takes very seriously, it was stated. This is why the company wants to take action against counterfeiting and gray marketing of IT products.

Oliver Tuszik, global head of the Cisco partner organization, called on the channel partners of the internationally active company to inform Cisco in case of any suspicions of counterfeiting or gray market trading. The partners should contact Cisco if a deal falls through due to presumably illegal alternative offers. In return, he pledged to support the partners in their fight against illegal competition.

Tuszik has been leading the Cisco Partner Organization as a Senior Vice President of the Silicon Valley‑based company since 2018. Originally coming from Germany, he also shared some personal experiences from his time as CEO of a German IT service provider with the 3,000 attending channel partners. Back then, he also had been forced to compete with gray market dealers, and the Cisco brand protection team had been a great help by informing customers about the risks of counterfeiting.

Gray marketing and counterfeiting are a growing problem for the IT industry, according to a recently published study by the American industry association Alliance for Gray Market and Counterfeit Abatement (AGMA). According to the analysis, gray market traders supposedly sell products worth several billion US dollars annually. The study, conducted together with Milton Springut, a law firm specializing in IP protection, emphasizes the importance of trademark law in the fight against gray market trade.

Cisco has also taken legal action against unauthorized trading in its products. For example, in 2018, a British court sentenced a reseller to seven-figure damages for illegally selling parallel imports of Cisco products imported from outside the European Economic Area (EEA).

Sources: Channel Partner Insight, Cisco, AGMA, The Register

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