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The Almighty Buck Hardware

Fakes, Coming to a Store Near You 286

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the i'm-not-faking-it dept.
fishdan writes to tell us that while most Slashdotters have their own trusted sources for gear there is a growing concern that all consumers should look out for. According to PC World, more and more counterfeit hardware is coming to market each year. From the article: '...batteries aren't the only tech item that counterfeiters love. In October 2004, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials in Anchorage, Alaska, seized 20,000 suspected fake Memorex USB memory key thumb drives from Asia. And last year, Miami officials seized 900 allegedly phony laptops valued at $700,000. "Maybe it's a laptop, an MP3 player, or a component like a DVD drive--anything in the digital world can be counterfeited," says Therese Randazzo, a U.S. Customs Service counterfeiting expert.'"
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Fakes, Coming to a Store Near You

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  • I don't get it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09, 2006 @06:36AM (#14425970)
    What is wrong with counterfeit electronics? Do they have different functionality, are they shabbily built, or do they just take profits away from the rightful owners of the product?
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Informative)

      by Big Nothing (229456) <big.nothing@bigger.com> on Monday January 09, 2006 @06:44AM (#14425994)
      "What is wrong with counterfeit electronics? Do they have different functionality, are they shabbily built, or do they just take profits away from the rightful owners of the product?"

      From TFA:
      Bogus cell phone batteries, shoddily made and potentially unsafe, are a specialty of counterfeiters. "It's one thing to buy a fake $30 Louis Vuitton bag on Canal Street in New York City. It's an entirely different matter when you buy a fake cell phone battery and it blows up"

      So yes, lack of quality IS a problem - it's not just IP whine.

      • Re:I don't get it (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Pieroxy (222434)
        The biggest problem (IMHO) is loss of revenue, for one, and decrease in perceived value from the brand. If I buy a fake SONY DVD player and it is crap, I will think SONY DVD's are crap. This is why they fight these guys as much.

        A battery exploding, while problematic, does not really impact the company being faked in a direct fashion. And they hold the stick for repression.

        They just use the battery explosions as a banner to say "Hey, we are not evil and fighting for our beloved revenue. We fight for customer
      • Re:I don't get it (Score:3, Interesting)

        by squoozer (730327)

        Your argument, while good, only fits a small number of cases where the fake could actually hurt someone. I fail to see how a memory stick can blow up and hurt someone.

        A much better reason to discourage this type of piracy is simply because margins are already tight in the electronics world without forcing the few players that exist to fight for their money with people ripping them off. There are areas where I feel pirates play an important roll. Music, movie and clothes production spring to mind. Producti

        • Re:I don't get it (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bcattwoo (737354)
          The pirates are showing the consumers that prices need not be as high as they are paying. I admit that pirates don't have associated development costs and therefore will always be able to sell for less but when you see a pirated copy of a movie for free and the real thing costs £16 ($30) you have to ask where the money is going.

          First off music/movie and clothing "pirates" are really different creatures. Clothing pirates actually produce a product and then try to leech off of someone elses good name

      • Re:I don't get it (Score:4, Insightful)

        by terminal.dk (102718) on Monday January 09, 2006 @08:21AM (#14426317) Homepage
        I agree. It is a problem. When the handle on the Louis Vuitton bag breaks, you can lose way more than a cell phone. Maybe your digital camera, video camera, and $2000 laptop all dies.

        There is a reason to buy quality, and to be aware that a brand name does not necessarily mean quality.

        In Denmark we had a case. A supermarket was selling "counterfeit" Puma shoes. The only difference between the cheap Puma and the full price Puma was, that the manufacturer had lost his Puma contract, but was still producing the same shoes.

        Go for quality rather than brand names.

        The best color you can buy is usually last year's :)
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:4, Interesting)

      by damsa (840364) on Monday January 09, 2006 @06:46AM (#14426001)
      Counterfeits are not made to the same standard as originals, if they were made to the same standards then the counterfeiters wouldn't be trying to pass off their goods as fakes, they would be making claims that their products were better.

      When you buy a product from a manufacturer, you as a buyer are protected by warranty laws, a counterfeiter can get away with selling stuff even if the quality is the same as the original for a lower price because they don't have to support you.

      Counterfeiters do take away profits from the rightful owners of the product. Companies spend millions of dollars to develop a product and to appeal to a certain market. If counterfeiters were allowed to counterfeit, then companies would not develop products.

      Also, how would like to buy an Intel computer but only to find that the insides are actually made by a Chinese knockoff company.
    • Try complaining about a broke counterfeit Toshiba(or whatever), or sending it in for service, and I think you'll find out what the problem is rather quickly.
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dunkelfalke (91624)
      they are shabby built, have different functionality and have no warranty.

      here [heise.de] you can see a picture of a fake usb bluetooth adapter. as you can see the antenna is a dummy, the only antenna it has is "drawn" on the pcb. also the bluetooth stack is a different one.

    • Re:I don't get it (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09, 2006 @06:48AM (#14426011)
      It goes really far down the chain. Nowdays you can't buy certain power transistors from just anywhere. Prized japense power transistors like even 2sc5200/2sa1943 are being counterfeited. the counterfeit devices have a much smaller die and no heatspreader. they are just glued to the package.

      This obviously has issues with the entire manufacturing process. anything that needed these parts now must be tested.

      counterfeit stuff is almost certainly poor quality, possibly bordering on dangerous. it makes the most sense as you get maximum profits that way.

      Further there is no accountability. A defective and dangerous product could harm people, thusly bringing lawsuits. These lawsuits would target, in this case, innocent corporations instead of outright dishonest ones. the lack of a need to care about the consumer at all makes counterfeitting electronics dangerous.
    • A direct copy of a brand name product probably hasn't had any effort put in other than making it into a good copy.

      A cheap product from china with a bizarre brand name made up by somebody who knows 10 words of english may actually have good engineering in it. At least that way you know exactly what you are getting.

      • A cheap product from china with a bizarre brand name made up by somebody who knows 10 words of english may actually have good engineering in it. At least that way you know exactly what you are getting.

        Funny as I read that I was looking at the cover of my Cisco(tm)(r) branded power brick.

        The thing has more chinese on it than english... btw. this is my third - the first two exploded.

        So, in the interests of accuracy:

        An expensive product from china with a bizarre brand name made up by somebody who knows 10 wor
    • you might still remember the fake nokia cell phone batteries that exploded up.
    • What is wrong with counterfeit electronics? Do they have different functionality, are they shabbily built, or do they just take profits away from the rightful owners of the product?

      Generally, yes, yes, and yes. Also, it's not so much about taking profits away from the rightful owners but a matter of trademark and copyright infringement. If it's a Lexan USB drive with a Memorex label on it, I don't think you're getting ripped off regarding quality and functionality. But generally, it's inferior products
    • As a rule, most counterfeit stuff no resemblance to the real thing at all except for the logo. It is totally and completely different in terms of quality, materials and functionality. Thus I reckon that these counterfeits were probably cheap OEM parts which had been stamped with a logo, thus rendering them counterfeit. You'd probably see the same parts being sold elsewhere with a no-name logo.

      As long as you the purchaser know they're counterfeit, and accept all the risks which go along with that (e.g. you

    • Re:I don't get it (Score:3, Informative)

      by Basje (26968)
      Most of these items are made in the same shops, with the same materials by the same workers as the originals. They are made in [Chinese|Russian|Malaysian|Other emrging economy] factories that during the daytime produce their product (eg thumbdrives for Memorex), and during the night for "parallel export".

      There are dangers to this practise. In these cases the producer cannot be held accountable (because it's not know who it is), so they don't have an interest in quality control. Often, discarded parts (that
    • or do they just take profits away from the rightful owners of the product?

      You probably mean the rightful manufacturer of the product. We're speaking about hardware here, so the owner would be the buyer, not the maker.

    • Re:I don't get it (Score:4, Interesting)

      by baryon351 (626717) on Monday January 09, 2006 @06:59AM (#14426052)
      Others have brought up good comments - that sometimes the counterfeits can be dangerous, not work the same as the real thing, not comply with local laws, be interference-prone electronics etc.

      Another problem is when a device made in the same factory as the real deal (let's say a Toshiba laptop) is sold in the US as a real toshiba. To many people hey, it's a real toshiba, and it's half the price!

      But part of the price of the REAL toshiba is the Quality Control that occurs along the line. Perhaps only 85% of all laptops made in that factory actually end up being accepted by toshiba as inventory, and the rest is set to be dismantled, scrapped or refurbished as something went wrong on the assembly line. So what do you get when you buy the fake toshiba?

      You get one of the *already rejected* "toshibas" that was never meant to be released to the public. Not only was it never given a serial number that matches a toshiba-sold product so all warranty is out the window, it's already been rejected and defined as having problems. Made in the same factory, yes, but not the same quality as the final for-sale object.

      Maybe you'll get lucky and get a solid machine that only has some case defects. Maybe you'll get a lemon that doesn't stay powered on for more than 15 minutes, has no warranty, and you still paid $400 for.

    • Re:I don't get it (Score:4, Informative)

      by djupedal (584558) on Monday January 09, 2006 @08:21AM (#14426319)
      Examples...and believe me, I know of where I speak, since I'm living at ground zero for where this stuff originates.

      Sony branded ni-cads - might hold a charge ok for the first few uses...rapidly downhill from there. Who knows what is inside. Use your imagination, but remember to only consider materials that are easy to obtain, with low cost up front.

      Sony branded 1gb USB microdrive - after one week...corrupted data. On and on...blank CDs, DVDs, SD cards....no end. If you get in with the shop vendors, they know what to avoid, and they won't sell you the bad stuff. I've learned how to spot most if it, but the odds are more than 50/50 you'll be buying fake, regardless of the outlet. Fake cosmetics, deodorants, medicines, shoes, clothes, watches...a small percentage are acutally high quality, just made after hours. But for the most part, the fakes are of lower quality than the originals.

      How good are they at doing this? No joke, I've seen fake raw eggs. [danwei.org] Shell, egg white and yolk. No protein or edible matter whatsoever. Mostly off the shelf building materials. What kind of profit is there, when there is a market for a fake fresh chicken eggs?

      Why is this so prevalent? Believe it or not, being able to copy an original is considered a test of ability. It is routine for one generation in China to test itself by attempting to duplicate something done by their ancestors. From fabrics to porcelin, it shows respect and skill by being able to reliably copy something that was first done over two thousand years ago.

      Where is this headed? What better craftsmen, to really be the first to clone a human.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09, 2006 @06:37AM (#14425973)
    "Maybe it's a laptop, an MP3 player, or a component like a DVD drive--anything in the digital world can be counterfeited," says Therese Randazzo, a U.S. Customs Service counterfeiting expert.'"

    Last time I checked there captain obvious anything in the analog world can be counterfeited as well. Basically anything can be counterfeited. If this guy counts as an expert I'd hate to see a n00b.
  • by Statecraftsman (718862) on Monday January 09, 2006 @06:52AM (#14426024) Homepage
    I've decided to offer my own consumer hardware....ummm....authentication service. If you suspect you are in posession of counterfeit hardware(expecially the xbox 360 or an iPod nano), please send it it to:

    P.O. Box 12345
    Hometown, USA 12345

    Please note that due to cost concerns, your hardware cannot be returned. Thanks and if you include your email address I'll let you know if it's counterfeit.

    (just a joke...please don't actually send me anything cuz that address is extreme bogusness)

    • please don't actually send me anything cuz that address is extreme bogusness)

      I used to run a dispach system for on road service. Occasionally we would inject a test job "Mr Test T Test requires a new Test for his Toyota Test at 1 Test Street Test town" or similar and most of the time the job would get sent out into the real world.

      I suggest you set up a real address and make off with the loot. It can hardly be less honest than selling advertising space by the pixel on a single page website.

      • Heh. Just set up a website for people convinced a particular piece of hardware is possessed by the devil. Invite them to send it in, and the bad karma associated with the device will go away.

        When you make your second million, drop me a postcard.
      • I work at a Satellite TV company, and I heard stories that back in "the day", about 4 or 5 years ago Q&A and development would test with production data, as there apparently was no way at the time to differentiate between test and prod accounts. So, one of the things everyone did was put the words (in big bold capital letters) "DO NOT INSTALL" on address line 2, and the full address was real, but with a fake apartment number like "#545329823098234" or something.

        Apparently, one of the big reasons they en
  • or some fake. How to tell?
  • Wait till you see... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bronney (638318) on Monday January 09, 2006 @06:55AM (#14426038) Homepage
    what we have in stores for you. Earlier we had soy sauce made from hair juice. Yes, factories in China grinding human hair into juice and mix with water.

    Fake down blankets stuffed with shit polyesters.

    Now hear this, fake EGGS. Yes you heard right. What mogglers my bind was how on earth could you make eggs cheaper than collecting from chickens. The fake eggs were obviously inedible, but will crack and pour just like a real egg, with yolks and stuff.

    The famous fake gucci's and LV's are old news.

    Latest that came in from a buddy who works in shenzhen was that he rode in a fake mercedes benz. They copied all contours and instead of the tri-star, it's a 5 pointed-star (China)! Cool eh.
    • mogglers my bind

      Tell me, exactly what does moggle your bind?

      rode in a fake mercedes benz

      A company here was putting Ferrari-like fibreglass shells on to TA22 Celica bodies. This was about 20 years ago. They got taken to court of course.

      Thanks for the soy sauce story. I will feel real happy about my wife's cooking now. After the Dec 26 2004 tsunami there was a run on fish based sauce in Malaysia because people thought it would start to contain human tissue because fish feed on bodies. Your version sounds

    • by wodgy7 (850851)
      In case anyone doubts the fake eggs story, here's a photo of one of the phony eggs: http://news.xinhuanet.com/photo/2004-12/28/content _2387255.htm [xinhuanet.com] The shell is made from calcium carbonate and the internals are mixed up (there's no defined yolk) and made from a mixture of gelatine, starch, alum, and a variety of other things.
  • Dupe? (Score:2, Funny)

    by 6Yankee (597075)
    Not a dupe? Hey, whoever counterfeited Slashdot, back to work!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I've read that when a company is done with a factory in China making their product, you will then see the factory "illegally" keep producing a product sometimes. Or the process will be copied by another factory. Hence the label of "fake". Then it comes down to if a fake is a fake if it's identical but doesn't carry the name brand or authorization of the name brand (where the answer is probably yes).
    • I've read that when a company is done with a factory in China making their product, you will then see the factory "illegally" keep producing a product sometimes.
      These factories are not illegally producing the product if they are under contract to the license holder. They are guilty illegal distribution. These grey market products have been around in the clothing area since the beginning of designer clothes. Now with ebay and internet stores, there is a distribution outlet for technology hard goods that di
    • you bet!

      I gladly buy fake high intensity White LED's all the time at around $0.06 each compared to the insane markup of around $).99 each in quantity here in the states. I buy packs of 1000 a couple times a year to feed my habit of modifying LEd flashlights into insane levels (I have a sharper image led floodlight that was modified from 16 led's to 50! it is now painful for people 1/2 a mile away) as well as making cash for my electronics projects by selling them at $0.25 each undercutting the local Rats
  • "To discover how prevalent counterfeit high-tech parts have become in the United States, PC World purchased seven hard drives, seven memory modules, and ten cell phone batteries online, using pricing search engines to find low prices. We then asked vendors to authenticate the gear. Of the two dozen products we bought, four (all cell phone batteries) were counterfeit. We also received at least one old or refurbished product masquerading as new, got one broken drive, and in a few cases ordered a specific bran
    • "using pricing search engines to find low prices."

      I have to wonder how far they went to get a low price; I don't know about you, but I've seen plenty of web sites that look like they were put together by a 12 year old with attention span issues, and I wouldn't put my credit card anywhere near them, however cheap they were...

      In a decade or so of buying online, I've had a CPU that arrived dead (squished, in fact; the packaging AMD had put it and the heatsink in had cracked, and the heatsink had crushed it), a
  • by NigelJohnstone (242811) on Monday January 09, 2006 @07:03AM (#14426065)
    "In October 2004, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials in Anchorage, Alaska, seized 20,000 suspected fake Memorex USB memory key thumb drives from Asia."

    Do Memorex even make USB drives, or do they simply buy them in from Asian and stick their badge on them?

    "Miami officials seized 900 allegedly phony laptops valued at $700,000. "Maybe it's a laptop, an MP3 player, or a component like a DVD drive--anything in the digital world can be counterfeited," says Therese Randazzo, a U.S. Customs Service counterfeiting expert.'"

    I bet they were *real* laptops and *real* mp3 players, the only difference was the label. What you're saying is they can fake *labels*. But that's just because the USA has become a fake brand country, companies license a brand like Polaroid or Caterpillar, buy in cheap Asian crap, stick a "Polaroid" badge on it and charge loads more money because people think they're buying American.

    Who cares if those fake brands get pirated, since its the difference between an overprice Asian product and a cheap Asian product, it's still jobs in Asia.

    They should tackle false origin of goods labelling instead, since that's the cause of jobs being lost in USA and Europe. How can an Italian shoe maker compete with companies which appear to be Italian luxury show makers, but are just fake Asian brands with some minor finishing in Italy?

    • How can an Italian shoe maker compete with companies which appear to be Italian luxury show makers, but are just fake Asian brands with some minor finishing in Italy?

      a) Using that whole fine hand crafted aesthetic to create a look which cannot be functionally duplicated by someone making 500 pieces a day with no specialized training or
      b) going into an industry where the above is actually possible, because any industry where it isn't is doomed in Italy and everywhere else in the first world, just as it

      • "create a look which cannot be functionally duplicated by someone making 500 pieces a day"

        If brand work for companies, then why not for countries? Isn't French cheese worth paying more for, because they don't sell French reprocessed Cheddar!
        Isn't Italian hand made shoes better because Italy doesn't make crappy cheap shoes so you're less likely to get a crappy cheap shoe if you buy Italian!

        "Made in Italy" has value just like any other brand. The problem is they don't protect that brand, they protect this fak
    • "Miami officials seized 900 allegedly phony laptops valued at $700,000. "Maybe it's a laptop, an MP3 player, or a component like a DVD drive--anything in the digital world can be counterfeited," says Therese Randazzo, a U.S. Customs Service counterfeiting expert.'"

      His final sentence could have read "anything in the world can be counterfeited." without losing any meaning what-so-ever, considering that the items in question are real, tangible goods. The throwing in of the word 'digital' just seems intent on d
    • by tpgp (48001) on Monday January 09, 2006 @08:12AM (#14426288) Homepage
      I bet they were *real* laptops and *real* mp3 players, the only difference was the label. What you're saying is they can fake *labels*. But that's just because the USA has become a fake brand country, companies license a brand like Polaroid or Caterpillar, buy in cheap Asian crap, stick a "Polaroid" badge on it and charge loads more money because people think they're buying American.

      I generally agree with your sentiment about Western Consumers getting sucked into overpaying for cheap crap because of a label (CK clothes instantly spring to mind).

      However - I do actually think trademark is one area of 'intellectual property' that helps consumers.

      If I buy a laptop that has "AMD Sempron 3000+" written on it, I would like to *know* that that's what it is - not an 900MHz Intel Celeron. Similarly, I want the video memory to be whats advertised, etc etc etc.

      Who cares if those fake brands get pirated, since its the difference between an overprice Asian product and a cheap Asian product, it's still jobs in Asia.

      Sometimes you do not get a rebranded equivilant, but something that is completely inferior to what you expected.

      I would be extemely pissed off if I bought one of the Fake AMD CPUs [over-clock.com] that were going around a while ago, to find it overclocked, ran hotter, and had a shorter lifespan that it should.
      • "If I buy a laptop that has "AMD Sempron 3000+" written on it, I would like to *know* that that's what it is - not an 900MHz Intel Celeron. Similarly, I want the video memory to be whats advertised, etc etc etc."

        Agreed, but isn't this the exact same thing:

        You're being sold "foo" when in reality it's "foobar".

        In my example, "foo" is Italian Made Designer Shoe, and "foobar" is Chinese Made shoe imported into Italy.

        In your example, "foo" is an AMD Sempron and "foobar" is an Intel Celeron.

        In both cases it's not
        • Agreed, but isn't this the exact same thing:

          You're being sold "foo" when in reality it's "foobar".

          In my example, "foo" is Italian Made Designer Shoe, and "foobar" is Chinese Made shoe imported into Italy.


          If you indeed bought a shoe that says "Italian Made" that was actually made in China, then your example does match mine.

          However that is not the case - these shoes will say prominently "Italian designed" or similar, but have in smaller print "Made in China".

          My theoretical laptop does not have "Designed like
          • "owever that is not the case - these shoes will say prominently "Italian designed" or similar, but have in smaller print "Made in China"."

            So it's a matter of degrees, what I'm after for this current round of counterfeiting laws is strong origin of goods laws, and the counterfeiting to concentrate on origin of goods. So that the origin of goods is stuck right there on the advert, the top of the box etc.

            "There is a huge difference between some advertising that is deceptive about the country of origin & fr
            • You've helped me illustrate my point beautifully.

              1) Memorex buys Beijing 'Chung Brand' USB stick and sells it labelled as made by Memorex.
              2)Fred Bloggs buys Beijing 'Chung Brand' USB stick and sells it labelled as made by Memorex.


              It doesn't work like that - it works like this:

              1) Memorex buys Beijing 'Chung Brand' USB stick, performs QA on it, discards 20% due to deficiences and sells it labelled as made by Memorex (with 100% markup)

              2)Fred Bloggs buys Beijing 'Chung Brand' USB stick and sells it labelled as
            • Worse.

              If the counterfeiting laws regarding regular merchandise are as screwed up as they are for drugs (controlled by the FDA) they could both say Memorex and be purchased from the same supplier and labeled on behalf of Memorex.

              Memorex (or any other company) could then claim the packaging is wrong (as it was inteded for a different market) and say it is counterfeit.

              Drugs are determined to be counterfeit if the packaging is not the exact same as the packaging registered with the FDA. Even if they are package
            • Memorex buys Beijing 'Chung Brand' USB stick and sells it labelled as made by Memorex.
              Fred Bloggs buys Beijing 'Chung Brand' USB stick and sells it labelled as made by Memorex.

              1. The person who buys Fred Bloggs stick is being deceived, because it's not Memorex.
              2. But then so is the person who buys Memorex because it's really 'Chung Brand'.


              From what I've been told, it doesn't work quite like that. That the sticks come from the same factory does not mean that they have the same quality.

              1) Memorex does a contr
    • Bad News Dude.... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by amcdiarmid (856796)
      Even the "Italian" goods are often manufactured in third world countries.

      I can't speak specifically to shoes, but I can speak for sweaters. Production has largely moved out of shops in Italy, and into (Pakistan, Malaysia, ...) other countries. My mother in law used to own & operate a sweater assembly shop. Even using immigrant labor that was low paid by Italian standards, they could not compete with the no pay of Pakistan. (Yes, I know that the workers there are their familys breadwinners.)

      The problem
      • "Better country of origin laws would work if everyone was willing and able to pay more for goods made in *well paying* countries"

        Price isn't everything.
        Do you pay more for a BMW than a Fiat? Fiat makes good cars sometimes, but they've also made bad ones and are devalued as a result. BMW compete at the premium end and avoid making bad cars. People do pay more and do by BMWs.

        Fiat = China
        BMW = Italy France...

    • i bet they weren't *real* laptops and mp3 players. most of the knockoff electronics are simply made to look legit, not function. i doubt you can make a functioning powerbook for much cheaper than apple. i remember my uncle brought me this "video recorder" once (long story about how he got it). it totally looked like a sony handycam. but when you pressed eject, the space was for an audio cassette. sure enough, i put in a tape and it played back the audio. in the front was a film camera. i'm not sure why they
  • Windows (Score:5, Funny)

    by Freaky Spook (811861) on Monday January 09, 2006 @07:09AM (#14426092)
    I think my copy of windows may be counterfeit. Its really slow and every time I open internet explorer I keep getting directed to hardcore porn sites.
  • by puzzled (12525) on Monday January 09, 2006 @07:46AM (#14426208) Journal

      A Cisco dual channel T1 controller, part VWIC-2MFT-T1 is $2,000 new list price. A small reseller will pay 70% of list or about $1,400 for it in distribution, while a large reseller might only pay $1,100 or so. Below we see a tinyurl link to an Ebay auction for a new boxed unit at only $227 or 11.3% of list price. I guarantee if you contact the seller you can get six dozen of them for the same price.

    http://tinyurl.com/ak9by [tinyurl.com]

      This has gone on and on and on and on for the last two years, destroying the value of used Cisco gear we pull from customers and making it almost impossible to buy a used/refurbished card without running into this stuff.

      I found out about this sort of thing the hard way. I got a *fantastic* deal on six new in the box Cisco 1721 routers. It wasn't so fantastic when I had to explain to my biggest customer that half of the machines they owned couldn't be registered for service because Cisco had them listed as in service in South America. Oh, and they failed, one by one, with mysterious problems not attributeable to hardware or software ... they just acted ... different.

      Foo on all counterfeiters. They should be given counterfeit lifesaving drugs while riding in an ambulance equipped with counterfeit brake pads on their way to a hospital where they'll be cared for by a doctor who is really a drunken paramedic who thought it'd be fun to be a trauma surgeon for a day. If they live through that then they should be placed in a real live jail and periodically offered counterfeit parole papers to sign.

    • For all the talk brands sell dirt cheap in China, and pretend their trademark violators if you try to import those goods. Levi's used the "dilution of trademark" claim to stop Tesco's importing cheap Levis from abroad, but the goods were genunine Levi's:

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/1261060.stm [bbc.co.uk]

      I don't think a Cisco card or two on eBay from a seller in Beijing are exactly a big deal personally, and I wonder why you imagined Cisco would register and support routers you bought from China on eBay???
    • by gregorio (520049) on Monday January 09, 2006 @09:35AM (#14426722)
      A Cisco dual channel T1 controller, part VWIC-2MFT-T1 is $2,000 new list price. A small reseller will pay 70% of list or about $1,400 for it in distribution, while a large reseller might only pay $1,100 or so. Below we see a tinyurl link to an Ebay auction for a new boxed unit at only $227 or 11.3% of list price. I guarantee if you contact the seller you can get six dozen of them for the same price.
      Maybe because most Cisco's products are just cheap versions of industry standard hardware designs. This card is mostly a cheap-ass FPGA with a small associated analog circuitry. I bet the counterfeiters don't even need to copy Cisco's firmware (probably licensed from some cheap-ass chinese company), as most T1-related signal processing algorithms can be licensed for free or just real cheap.

      Any chinese company can build this kind of product, as the related technologies (and component prices) can be complex as manufacturing an ADSL modem.

      But that's Cisco TODAY. Back in The Day when the components and technologies necessary to build a T1 signal interface were really expensive, their prices at least made some sense. Today the amount of signal processing necessary for a full-featured ADSL modem is larger than for this kind of communications card.

      Today's Cisco is just a seller of overpriced commodity hardware.
    • by jmichaelg (148257) on Monday January 09, 2006 @10:12AM (#14426971) Journal
      Cisco is plagued by counterfits.

      If Cisco outsources the manufacture of the hardware how can it possibly believe that the manufacturer won't run an extra X copies off the line after they've run Cisco's? Sure, your contracts may prohibit that but when the cost vs what Cisco charges the end user is so great, the temptation for someone at the manufacturing line is going to be pretty high. Especially if they figure they'll sell the goods in a market where Cisco isn't.

      There are reasons on-shore companies used to do the manufacturing themselves. This is one of them.

      Outsourcing may be cheaper in the short run but Cisco is beginning to learn what the long-run costs are.

      • There are a ton of counterfeit Cisco goods on the market, they all come from the same Flextronics plant in Suzhou, China where Cisco makes 40% of all its electronics. The cards are exactly the same as Cisco cards, but the firmware is sometimes different, and they are missing the official Cisco logo. They have the same part numbers as their Cisco counterpart. I'm pretty certain these are cards which failed QA/QC in the plant, and are re-sold without the Cisco logo.

        These cards are the bane of support people.
  • by Advocadus Diaboli (323784) on Monday January 09, 2006 @07:50AM (#14426226)
    said it comes from Sony/BMG and then it was a rootkit installer. :-)
  • I don't see this as being a major issue for consumers - so long as you shop at places you trust. It is up-to the retailer to ensure they are buying the ligitimate goods, not for the buyer (how is run of the mill guy going to know how to tell the difference?).

    You buy from a respectable outlet, and you use the product. If it fails, you bring it back to get it replaced. If they discover its a conterfeit, you get it replaced with the real thing (or sue if they are not forthcoming). Issue lies between outlet and
  • Fake Gilette razors (Score:3, Informative)

    by Raindeer (104129) on Monday January 09, 2006 @08:03AM (#14426258) Homepage Journal
    A major Dutch retail chain recently had to recall a whole lot of Gilette Mach 3 razorblades. It turned out they were fakes. The packaging looked real enough, but the razors were nowhere near the quality Gilette makes.

    Trouble is that with globalization going on as it is, it is not unheard of for an import/export company to buy wholesale an X amount of razors, to sell most of it through their normal channels and to sell some excess surplus on the international market. Buyers would normally buy from the manufacturer, but it is hard to resist buying some of the wholesale surplus of others.

    With globalization increasing, creating a bigger marketplace and smaller margins, I would expect to see more fakes for two reasons:
    - more superfluous relationships between supply and demand instead of the traditional 1 on 1 manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer relationships. Making it easier to slip something in and be unnoticed.
    - larger markets make it more profitable to inject fake goods into the economy, by creating larger demands for products, so that the margins combined with volume creates a large enough incentive for crime to seize the chance.
    • A major Dutch retail chain recently had to recall a whole lot of Gilette Mach 3 razorblades. It turned out they were fakes. The packaging looked real enough, but the razors were nowhere near the quality Gilette makes.

      I'm not sure that's such a good example.

      First, razor blades are available in analog form only. And second, I doubt you'll get much sympathy from anyone who uses disposable blades (which is just about everyone) and is forced to pay ridiculous prices for them. Similarly, I doubt anyone consider
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09, 2006 @08:06AM (#14426268)
    I think counterfeit hardware could be the next stage in trojans and viruses.

    For instance, imagine you buy a wireless router from ebay, which the seller has pre-installed with trojan firmware and comes with a packet sniffer, bulk mailing software pre-installed, ftp server, password grabber etc. The best part is, most people trust their routers implicitly so don't bother checking them from the outside world. Some people then disable their software firewalls once they have a router available.

    Another great idea would be a network printer with a trojan payload.
    • Where are many critical electronic parts for computers, automobiles, military weapontry, and other important devices for America manufactured? The simple answer is the "Peoples Republic" of China. How many of these devices have "trojans" or sabatage circuitry embedded in intergrated circuits themselves? We may never find out (Hopefully). I can picture the day when the world grows tired of accepting worthless paper (dollars or Federal Reserve Notes) as "payment" for tangible goods. I can also picture t
  • They've been poorly counterfeiting Mac OS for years now.

    Sort of makes me think of Sir Mix-A-Lot's 'Swap Meet Louie'

    "Your OS might have windows like a Mac, but in Redmond that ain't Jack."
  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Monday January 09, 2006 @08:33AM (#14426358) Homepage
    A lot of consumer hardware is sold, with unchanged specifications and possibly minor cosmetic changes, using multiple brands and pricing based primarily on those brand names.
    Would this be considered counterfeit as well?
  • Elevators too (Score:5, Interesting)

    by whoda (569082) on Monday January 09, 2006 @08:50AM (#14426444) Homepage
    There was a story about counterfiting in an issue of Fast Company last year. In it, there was an example of an elevator company who got called to service an elevator in a high-rise building.

    The elevator company had no record that they had an elevator installed there.
    When the technicians got there, they couldn't fix anything, because the elevator wasn't really theirs. It was a knock-off!
  • Growing concern? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AutopsyReport (856852) on Monday January 09, 2006 @09:52AM (#14426818)
    This is a growing concern? Come on, counterfeiting has been around for centuries. Louis Vuitton and the 'LV' symbol which is so sought-after these days (usually through counterfeit means) was initially introduced as a counterfeiting measure to be printed on the bags/luggage some 100 years ago or so. Now it's one of the most popular fashion symbols known, and consequently, one of the most counterfeited brands.

    It was only a matter of time before counterfeiting struck its hand on the electronics industry. There's already counterfeit electrical parts, medical supplies, you name it. The thing is about counterfeits coming from China is that there are thousands of factories that can produce the exact same product easily. Factories are next door to each other in Guangdong/Shenzen -- getting the blueprints for products is only a matter of knowing someone from another factory and getting a copy for you to produce. So it may not be so much an issue as having a counterfeit phone, but having a phone produced in a different factory.

    The truth of the matter is, the '100% mirror quality' fake Louis Vuitton's that walk their way past you in the mall are impossible to tell from the real ones. The quality is the exact same, and the materials and craftmanship the same. So for small, (mostly) meaningless electronics, counterfeit does not impose much of a problem to the consumer. For health-critical devices or medicines, it's a different story. That's why there's so much more focus on stopping counterfeit medicine than Louis Vuitton.

  • Deadly fakes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SysKoll (48967) on Monday January 09, 2006 @10:23AM (#14427059)
    Fake Vuitton bags don't endanger anybody's live, they are just a rip-off. Of course, since the whole "elite brand" phenomenon is largely a matter of advertizing overpriced goods, you could just dismiss the problem as a parasitic rip-off riding the coat of a legal rip-off.

    However, fakes aren't stopping at clothes and fashion. The problem is that if you don't fight counterfeit very efficiently, you soon see them appear in places where reliability and traceability are paramount. What about bad components crashing a mission-critical system? Fake brake pads in your car that overheat and fail? Or even worse, fake antibiotics and aviation parts? All these are happening today and are a major concern.

    One way to fight counterfeits is to ship items with an RFID tag that is queried at each step of the shipping and traced back to the originating factory. Of course, pirates will soon start counterfeiting tags too, so the system has to be designed to prevent fake and duplicate numbers.

    I personally must be naive because I cannot conceive making fake drugs or couterfeit airplane parts -- could you endanger thousands of lives to make a quick buck? Obviously, such scruples belong to a gentler era, such as the Hun invasions.

    • Re:Deadly fakes (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sigma 7 (266129)

      However, fakes aren't stopping at clothes and fashion. The problem is that if you don't fight counterfeit very efficiently, you soon see them appear in places where reliability and traceability are paramount. What about bad components crashing a mission-critical system? Fake brake pads in your car that overheat and fail? Or even worse, fake antibiotics and aviation parts? All these are happening today and are a major concern.?

      Mission critical systems normally procure their products directly from the manuf

  • What a bunch of FUD (Score:4, Informative)

    by Lord Byron II (671689) on Monday January 09, 2006 @01:57PM (#14428902)
    Yes, counterfeiting is wrong, but this article is jam packed with FUD! They make it sound like only counterfeit products will fail, but we all know that the real thing can be just as bad (XBOX 360s overheating, IBM HDDs crashing, Ipod batteries dying). The worst is when they quote the MSoftie who states that if you buy a counterfeit MS product, your credit card number could be stolen. What's the basis for that?

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