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Fake Compaq products seized from reseller

Compaq and the US Marshals Service have seized a large quantity of what they say are counterfeit computer components from reseller Hardware 4 Less.

In a statement issued on 14 February, Compaq said it had learned that Hardware 4 Less was not an authorised Compaq reseller and had supplied fake parts to other wholesalers, who then sold the parts to users.

The parts seized included memory boards and hard drives, as well as fake Compaq labels, packing materials, warranty booklets and software licences. The seized goods are now in the possession of the US District Court for the District of New Hampshire.

Compaq spokeswoman Elizabeth Gillan said the company first learned of the situation from a customer who said he had received a suspicious memory board.

After an investigation, Gillan said Compaq discovered counterfeit parts and obtained a temporary injunction against the Hardware 4 Less, prohibiting it from manufacturing and distributing fake goods. Gillan said Compaq is in the process of determining the value of the counterfeit products.

"We will be seeking a permanent injunction and several million dollars in damages," Gillan said.

The Web site of Hardware 4 Less also advertises products from Sun Microsystems and IBM.

The Hardware 4 Less home page also displays the logo of a resellers' trade organisation, the Information Technology Reseller Association (ITRA), which includes a link to its code of ethics. Former ITRA co-chairman Kay Almond said that the group merged last year with another trade organisation, the Association of Service and Computer Dealers International (ASCDI), who does list Hardware 4 Less as a member.

ASCDI claims any member violating the group's code of ethics is subject to disciplinary actions, including expulsion.

Last year, Compaq, in conjunction with federal law enforcement agencies, carried out a similar search and seizure operation against reseller Dynasty Memory. As a result, several million dollars worth of fake Compaq computer parts were seized, which Dynasty had manufactured and intended to sell to the public, according to Compaq.

Ultimately, Dynasty paid a substantial penalty to Compaq, and its owners are currently under investigation by both local and federal law enforcement agencies, Compaq said.

Compaq is also pursuing several other companies believed to be buying and selling counterfeit Compaq products.

Compaq said it has put security labels on products such as hard drives, memory and processors, to allow the company and its customers to verify product authenticity and cut down on duplication by counterfeiters.

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