Thursday, October 8, 2009

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW!!! : Cisco Brand Protection

This is an EXCLUSIVE from Eman, my chief at the CCIE Flyer! This is an interview on Cisco Brand Protection. The interview was done with Karim Kattouf who is the Program Manager, Brand Protection for Saudi Arabia, Gulf & Pakistan.

Cisco Brand Protection

I have written of the work I am doing with Monica (my best friend at Cisco) in helping CCIEs regain control of their IE numbers. Her work has led me to interact with the Brand Protection team at Cisco. They are a group of professionals who are scattered around the globe looking out for your welfare. Who is there to recover your stolen hardware? Who is there to stop the obsolete counterfeit products at the border? Who is there to warn you off of buying dumpster diver unlicensed or authorized refurbished gear? Cisco Brand Protection that’s who!

I was curious about this group when I heard they had done some high profile sweeps in the past with various agencies like border patrols, customs and police. Counterfeit Cisco gear? Yup even the DoD was worried and it has been stopped at borders. Stolen Equipment is also a concern as well and the policy from Cisco is to deny support for products that might be stolen. Used gear is a hot topic for debate. Those who sell it want it supported by Cisco like all other gear. But think about it, who can vouch for what kind of shape it is in? There are some reputable and honest companies doing this now but there are also dumpster divers and thieves out there who have spoiled this business for the whole lot. I have been told by CCIEs about a couple of bad deals as they tried to build labs. Cisco recertifies some gear and then they will support it. That’s a tough spot to be in for Cisco because they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

Karim Kattouf and I first spoke back in February when we had worked on a case together. He is a Program Manager for Brand Protection covering KSA, Gulf and Pakistan. Karim called me concerned for the CCIEs in this particular case, and quickly got to the bottom of the scenario. Karim and I spoke again this week and he agreed to share some of his work with the CCIE Flyer readers.

Q & A with Karim Kattouf

Q: Karim, can you tell me a little about how your group was formed?
A: The global Brand Protection team, with team members located worldwide, was established to drive Cisco's ongoing, proactive, and company-wide efforts to minimize the potential for damage to the Cisco brand as a result of counterfeit and unauthorized market activity, as well as other related activities.

Q: With all the growth within Cisco Systems it must have been inevitable that manufacturing would end up in another country. Is counterfeiting a serious problem?
A: Counterfeiting is not a new phenomenon for the IT industry. It is a global business issue that targets market leaders—especially those with high demand products. We recognized counterfeiting as a global market issue and have been proactively addressing the issue.

Q: What kind of penalties result from criminal counterfeit cases?
A: Cisco works in cooperation with internal law enforcement and government agencies, and pursues appropriate legal action when necessary, in order to prevent the trafficking of counterfeit Cisco products. Law enforcement anti-counterfeiting efforts, such as the collaborative international initiative against traffickers in counterfeit network hardware, result in prison sentences, fines and forfeitures, and orders for restitution, among other things, and have a deterrent effect on would-be counterfeiters. These cases also serve as an important reminder of the risk of purchasing outside of Cisco’s authorized sales and distribution channels. The integrity of a customer’s network begins with the purchase. When the equipment they are buying is mission critical, quality and authenticity should always be top of mind. There is no denying the peace of mind that comes from purchasing genuine, quality Cisco products from authorized Cisco channels.

Q: Stolen gear has a market too. You can sell almost anything on eBay these days so I was not surprised to read about a conviction for one guy taking the gear from his employer and selling it there. He made over $500,000 from this activity. How do you usually identify stolen hardware?
A: We evaluate each matter on a case-by-case basis to identify the specific issues. We also work in close collaboration with various groups within Cisco to appropriately handle each matter.

Q: In doing my research on used equipment, I found reams of companies selling it and dozens of articles supporting the practice. At the same time, I’ve seen an equal number of articles warning of the pitfalls of buying used equipment particularly regarding support of the gear, reliability of the sources, etc. What advice does Cisco provide regarding used equipment?
A: While there may be many reasons for considering the purchase of used equipment, Cisco’s advice for our customers is to understand the risks involved with used equipment. These risks may include business continuity, security, legal and regulatory, and financial. A complete description of these risks is detailed here in an IDC white paper at
Once the risks are understood, Cisco advises customers to utilize our “Think Smart” framework when considering the purchase and installation of used network equipment. This framework consists of three steps – Plan Smart, Source Smart, and Buy Smart. A key component of this framework is Cisco Certified Refurbished Equipment, which is equipment that has been remanufactured to like-new condition by Cisco, and carries the same warranty and support options as new Cisco equipment. For more information on this framework or for additional information about the Cisco Certified Refurbished Equipment program, please visit or send an e-mail to

Q: Are there any companies authorized to sell refurbished Cisco gear?
A: While there are many independent resellers offering used and 3rd party refurbished Cisco equipment, Cisco Certified Refurbished Equipment is only sold by Cisco’s network of 40,000 authorized partners worldwide. In addition to new Cisco equipment, any Cisco authorized reseller can sell and install Cisco Certified Refurbished Equipment. To verify that you are buying from a Cisco authorized reseller, please go to

Q: Do you read the CCIE Flyer?
A: Unfortunately, I do not read the CCIE Flyer. I have heard of it amongst my colleagues, who are CCIE certified, and they have spoken very highly of it.

Q: Do you like it?
A: Browsing through the site now, I think it is very interesting and has a lot of useful and insightful information. I will make sure to bookmark it so that I can keep checking it in the future.

Karim Kattouf, Program Manager, Brand Protection – Saudi Arabia, Gulf & Pakistan

Karim is part of Cisco’s Brand Protection team for the Middle East, in the overall Emerging Markets Theatre.

His role is multifaceted encompassing governance, audit, investigations, education, and internal and external liaison with law enforcement and the Cisco partner community. He works on Brand Protection related tasks for the Arab World.

Karim joined Cisco in 2007 as part of Partnership for Lebanon and participated in a 6 month program in San Jose, California. After this, he joined the Cisco Brand Protection team for the Middle East based in Beirut, Lebanon.

Karim holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree from the American University of Beirut and is currently pursuing his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree at the Lebanese American University in Lebanon.


Additional Contact Information / Links:
Protecting our corporate brand and reputation for quality is a serious issue for Cisco. Please notify the Cisco Brand Protection team if you suspect a breach of intellectual property by sending an email to

For more information on Cisco Brand Protection, please go to

For more information on the Partnership for Lebanon program , please go to

So there you have it folks! Be sure to tune in to October 2009's CCIE Flyer edition coming to you mid of October for more interesting and hot news!

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