Cisco Blogs

Protecting Against Gray Market and Counterfeit Goods

- August 21, 2007 - 12 Comments

Post by Phil Wright, Director of Worldwide Brand ProtectionCounterfeit goods and used equipment have been the topic of two cover stories this summer. InformationWeek’s July 7 cover story titled Used Gear: Notes from the Underground provides an in-depth look at enterprise customer behaviors and concludes that purchasing used IT gear from unauthorized brokers is risky. This week’s CRN cover story titled Fakes: Can You Tell the Difference looks at the issue from the channel perspective. It cites the prevalence of IT counterfeit products globally (estimated at $100B annually), the origin of the manufacture for the suspect goods (often China), and how the counterfeit goods get mixed into the channel (typically through multiple intermediaries). This is not just a Cisco problem, but a widespread problem in the IT industry.Cisco takes this issue seriously. The Cisco Partner Central page (accessible to any Cisco customer or partner) includes information about gray market products and counterfeit equipment. Cisco’s message is clear: Buy only through authorized channels. For those customers that need a less expensive alternative to sourcing new product, consider Cisco Certified Refurbished Equipment, which is available through authorized dealers. When products are purchased on the gray market, rather than through Cisco authorized distribution and resale channels, Cisco cannot guarantee the source and quality of those products. What about partners or customers that suspect that they have purchased counterfeit equipment? If you have questions or concerns, contact Brand Protection by email at

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  1. Just figure that if new Cisco equipement is being offered at a 40% or more discount..DING DING DING DING...COUNTERFEIT.

  2. Both articles also make the point that secondary market resellers - aka Cisco's grey market"" - also take the problem of counterfeit goods very seriously and do a better job of keeping them out of the overall channel than many of cisco's authorized partners. We actually see and test more Cisco products in a day than most Cisco partners see in a year. The most pertinent fact remains that Cisco is unwilling to help the market identify fake products (unlike microsoft and most other tech giants), allowing the problem to persist while they exploit it for their own PR devices. NHR can supply authentic, high quality Cisco goods with a 1 year standard overnight replacment warranty for a significant discount to Cisco new, and deliver almost anything in 24-48 hours. Give it a try, and you'll also find a refreshing attention to customer service...Mike Sheldon, CEONetwork Hardware Resale"

  3. I have one question fo Mike Sheldon. 1) Is your facility, the one where you do all this checking for counterfeit, ISO certified? Are your methodologies and procedures for checking for counterfeit documented?

  4. NHR has two large refurbishments centers open in Santa Barbara and Amsterdam with a third about to open in Singapore. We began the ISO certification process earlier this year and expect to receive certification early in 2008. All processes and procedures involved in the receipt, authentication, and testing of Cisco equipment is fully documented. The aboved referenced InformationWeek article details our general operations procedure in one of its sidebars, link provided:;jsessionid=J3XQ5RQQTQSOGQSNDLPSKH0CJUNN2JVN?articleID=200900804Specifically with regard to counterfeit Cisco: NHR examines packaging, labels, serial numbers and holograms for any abnormalities, then begins the more serious certification procedures. We have an extensive photo library of authentic Cisco products side-by-side with corresponding counterfeits versions of the product, and these are used by NHR technicians to pinpoint the telltale – and often subtle – traits of fake gear. Depending on the product, testing also includes examining internal and external numbers like CLEI codes; verifying serial numbers from both Cisco and the original manufacturer (where different); testing the output from ports to insure they measure to within Cisco spec; inspecting the physical construction of internal components down to (literally) the color of individual wires wound on certain coils on the circuit board or the manufacturer of a given RJ45 jack (Cisco uses only one kind, counterfeiters typically use a few others). All of this is documented, and we follow a zero-tolerance approach. All suspect equipment is refused, and NHR works closely with law enforcement to report suppliers of suspected counterfeit equipment. What we don’t have is assistance from Cisco themselves, and we would welcome it! Mike Sheldon, CEONetwork Hardware Resale"

  5. NHR completes rigorous testing and authentication processes in facilities in California and the Netherlands. Although NHR’s facilities are not yet ISO certified, we are in the process and expect to receive certification within the year.When it comes to identifying counterfeit, NHR has well documented procedures followed by our technical and inventory management professionals worldwide. Our processes include an extensive photo library of authentic Cisco products and counterfeits used by NHR technicians to pinpoint the telltale – and often subtle – traits of fake gear. Although NHR examines packaging, labels, serial numbers and holograms, those are only the first superficial inspection of a product. NHR has documented unique counterfeit screening processes for each type of product that include detailed examination of components as well as testing to ensure performance matches factory specifications. Our processes follow a zero-tolerance policy. All suspect equipment is refused or destroyed, and NHR works closely with law enforcement to report suppliers of counterfeit.If you have any questions about NHR's quality assurance processes, we are happy to answer them. Please email

  6. We've used NHR for years and have been very happy with the quality of equipment they supply. And, even better, and slightly amusing...we can get equipment immediately...without the typical Cisco/VAR lead time of 2-6 weeks.

  7. This what happens when you let China building your equipment for you.

  8. My understanding is that Cisco equipment is ran on it's IOS software as the operating system that is registered under the original end user. So while the hardware works, the license to the software would be pirated software. How the useage of pirated software legal?

  9. I purchased 6 x cab-sfp-50cm online last week from IML Direct - they sent fake products and when i called Cisco UK i was told that Cisco were not at all interested.

  10. Does Cisco offer a definition of gray market"""^0^1^^^0^0 25530^8704^Estelle^^^^2010-04-14 00:19:15^2010-04-14 00:19:15^Great post thank you, I have been keeping up with the stock lately and intend on purchasing again when things dip a bit.^0^1^^^0^0 15087^6903^Elizabeth Houston^^^^2009-08-26 22:06:19^2009-08-26 22:06:19^Check out the latest marketing trends and social media tips using this Twitter handle.^0^1^^^0^0 14906^7744^caro @ Girona Airport^^^^2009-08-21 16:50:57^2009-08-21 16:50:57^"i think the biggest improvement in any field can be brought just by following one rule Self Improvement"" when someone realize that one has done some mistake or it was ok but it can be better.this approach not only change the person but whole organizations so you are totally right when you say you can see your recordings using flip camera and judge/improve yourself then i can assure you that you are on path to success"

  11. A good way to guarantee that you purchase quality equipment is to work with companies who are associated with organizations such as UNEDA. The United Network Equipment Dealer Association (UNEDA) is a worldwide alliance of more than 300 of the leading marketers of pre-owned networking equipment. Members represent the entire spectrum of the secondary market, from companies with hundreds of employees and millions of dollars in inventory to small, entrepreneurial organizations. Together their combined yearly buying clout exceeds $2 billion, representing the sale of millions of pieces of equipment to tens of thousands of customers. UNEDA members must adhere to a strict code of ethics that includes a firm policy against selling any equipment that is not legitimate.

  12. where can one report gray market sales by a reseller?