Cisco ignoring fake routers on eBay?

Cisco is not taking enough action to stamp out the sale of counterfeit products on internet auction sites, according to networking-product resellers in the UK.

Cisco is not taking enough action to stamp out the sale of counterfeit products on internet auction sites, according to networking-product resellers in the UK.

Mike Sheldon, chief executive of reseller Network Hardware Resale, told sister site on Wednesday, that Cisco was not willing to co-operate with resellers to investigate potentially counterfeit Cisco products being sold on auction sites such as eBay.

"The real problem we run into is that the best we can determine is that the Cisco products are likely to be fake," said Sheldon. "If you see authorised Cisco partners in China selling them at 95 percent off the list price, what are you going to think? We have reached out to Cisco in a number of different media, but we haven't heard much back."

Both Network Hardware Resale and the United Network Equipment Dealer Association (Uneda), a trade association of over 300 secondary-market network-equipment dealers, said they have contacted Cisco on a number of occasions over the past three years.

Uneda said it had already outlined its concerns over suspected counterfeit Cisco kit on auction sites in a letter sent to Cisco chairman and chief executive John Chambers in November 2007, and had not received a response from the company.

"We have offered in the past to help Cisco with counterfeit eradication on eBay," wrote Uneda secretary Conrad Vickroy in the letter. "We received no response from you on this offer, and we still see many sellers advertising 'New Cisco' out of Chinese outlets that we suspect are absolutely not genuine Cisco equipment."

Further letters from Uneda to Chambers, in December of last year and March of this year, also received no response, according to Sheldon, who is also president of Uneda. Emails from Sheldon to Neal Rubin, Cisco's senior director of litigation, received no reply, according to Sheldon.

However, Sheldon did say that Cisco had been in contact to say it would consider helping in certain circumstances, as long as Network Hardware Resale provided complete records of purchase orders with the suspected affected providers, going back 10 years. Sheldon said it was not possible to meet this condition for commercial reasons.

Cisco confirmed that it had not been working in conjunction with Uneda, but said that it had been working with other organisations to tackle counterfeiting. Cisco declined to comment about the availability of counterfeit goods on internet auction sites.

"As part of our commitment to the integrity and quality of Cisco technology and services, our brand-protection team maintains an ongoing, proactive and company-wide effort to minimise potential damage to our brand and customers as a result of counterfeiting," a Cisco spokesperson said.

"Cisco works with a number of organisations engaged in this area, including Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting And Piracy, the World Customs Organization and the Alliance for Gray Market and Counterfeit Abatement. Cisco is currently not engaged with Uneda," said the spokesperson.

Counterfeit Cisco products have been a source of concern for the US military. In May, the FBI warned that counterfeit products could potentially open hardware backdoors into networked systems that could be exploited by nation states or criminals.

EBay had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.