By now, you have heard me talk about how we’re helping partners “perform and transform” in their businesses, ensuring they’re meeting today’s business goals while also evolving to capture new revenue streams and help our customers in new ways. Our partners are much more than a route to market — they are also a key part of our community and our brand. So, this is why – in addition to providing partners with industry-leading innovation, enablement, certifications and programs – we work hard to protect their business investment in Cisco. And in today’s somewhat opaque technology landscape, that also means supporting our partners by aggressively going after fraudsters and counterfeiters.
Like many successful technology companies, Cisco also gets targeted by “bad actors” who counterfeit and pirate our products or who game the system to look like registered Cisco partners. When this happens, it’s not only Cisco who takes a hit but also our partners and customers: Partners miss out on revenue opportunities and customers can get stuck with fake Cisco products that don’t work.
So, you may be asking “What is Cisco doing to protect its partners and customers?” In fact, there’s a number of things we’re doing across the entire defense chain. Here’s just a few:
- Partnering with Customs — Cisco has a dedicated Brand Protection organization whose purpose is to defend against counterfeit and gray market activities. They work as our brand police and partner with customs teams and regional governments all over the world. In the U.S. for example, this team works with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to help them identify counterfeit Cisco products. And it works. In April 2019, they seized $626,880 worth of counterfeit Cisco products in one day.
- Developing Anti-Counterfeiting Features in Cisco Products — the Cisco Brand Protection team also works closely with our engineering teams to develop and integrate anti-counterfeiting technology and field authenticity capabilities in our products. This helps protect Cisco’s intellectual property in hardware and software products, and ensures our partners and customers are getting the real deal.
- Stepping Up Non-Compliant Partner Screening — Protecting our partners’ business interests also means investing in rigorous on-boarding and screening processes that make it harder for unauthorized brokers and suppliers registering and entering the market – and who might otherwise compete against our legitimate partners. We actively screen and scrutinize new partner registrations daily and filter out thousands of non-compliant partners every year. And to ensure nothing falls through the cracks, we also work with our large resale and distribution partners to review Cisco’s denied partner list before engaging in any sales transactions.
- Onsite and Remote Audits — In addition, we are tightening partner procurement controls through onsite and remote audits aimed at reducing the risk of partners unintentionally selling unauthorized Cisco products. We review partner purchasing and sales behavior to ensure our customers receive only genuine Cisco products. Lastly, we support partners when they are competing in customer sales deals against questionable brokers by highlighting the risks of buying unlicensed, counterfeit, or stolen Cisco products from unauthorized resellers.
While brand protection is sometimes overlooked, it’s only one example of the important things we do to help our partners continue to perform and transform. And it’s an important part of protecting our overall business value for our customers.
Visit Cisco’s Brand Protection site to learn more. Partners can contact the Cisco Brand Protection team directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to clarify any concerns and disclose any suspicious activity they see.