UK traders get lengthy bans for selling fake Cisco goods

Two Manchester-based computer traders have been banned from commercial activities after they were caught selling thousands of counterfeit Cisco products.

Alan Gould (53) and Kelley Stewart (48) cannot directly or indirectly becoming involved in the promotion, formation or management of a company – without court permission – for a total of 12 years apiece after being linked to the sale of counterfeit items that infringed on intellectual property held by networking specialist Cisco.

Gould and Stewart were directors of Ardwick, Manchester-based GEN-X IT Ltd, a company set up in 2002 that sold IT hardware that went into insolvency in 2016. It had a history of trademark infringements, and in 2007 the directors signed undertakings that they wouldn’t deal with counterfeit products that hadn’t been manufactured by Cisco or a licensed manufacturer.

During insolvency proceedings it emerged that Gould and Stewart had ignored those undertakings, and had for three years bought and sold around 55,000 counterfeit Cisco products. In 2018, they admitted infringing Cisco’s trademarks and agreed to pay the company a seven-figure settlement.

The 12-year bans came into effect on June 8, according to the UK government’s Insolvency Service.

“Both Alan Gould and Kelley Stewart were fully aware GEN-X IT was importing and selling computer products that infringed on Cisco’s intellectual property rights, which was a flagrant breach of an undertaking promising they would stop,” said Rob Clarke, chief investigator for the Insolvency Service.

“Their conduct fell well short of what is expected of company directors.”

The ban was welcomed by Cisco, and the company’s head of global investigations – Neil Sheridan – said it should serve as a warning to anyone trading in counterfeit products of any sort.

“We are committed to tackling both individuals and organisations that recklessly trade in counterfeit Cisco products and create significant risk to critical network infrastructure,” he added.

The company says its brand protection team actively monitors the marketplace to identify sellers of counterfeit products and takes steps to curb their activity, and has filed a number of lawsuits to try to disrupt the illicit trade.

Last year, it won an injunction in the US against online retailers selling Chinese-made counterfeit versions of its transceiver equipment on a number of online marketplaces – including Amazon and Alibaba.

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