Stonesoft uses EC ruling to build up brand

Security distributors and vendors have accused Stonesoft of using a European Commission ruling over a distribution spat with...

Security distributors and vendors have accused Stonesoft of using a European Commission ruling over a distribution spat with rival Check Point to further brand awareness and build market share.

The EC ruling - which came after Stonesoft lodged a formal complaint that Check Point was attempting to exclude it from the market - has forced the vendor to clarify its channel policy.

In a statement, the EC said it was "concerned" Check Point had warned "some" of its channel that they would no longer be supplied with product if they continued to sell Stonesoft's competing StoneGate firewalls and VPNs.

As a result, Check Point has been forced to write to all of its channel partners and confirm it will not "condition the supply of its products" or terms and conditions of supply. But UK-based distributors and resellers contacted by MicroScope said they had never experienced any sort of anti-competitive intervention from Check Point.

Lisa Welberry, business development director of Reading- based VAR and security provider Ultima, said her company had not been threatened by Check Point and there was little demand in the UK for Stonesoft. "Customers are getting more knowledgeable and ask specifically for Check Point - that's never been the case with Stonesoft," she said. "This case has certainly raised Stonesoft's profile."

Bernie Dodwell, marketing director at security distributor Allasso - which partners with both Check Point and Stonesoft (though not on the StoneGuard product range) - asked, "why pick on Check Point?"

He added that resellers and distributors sold competing products such as Cisco's PIX range, and Cisco had not complained of anti-competitive practices.

Dave Ellis, director of e-security at Unipalm, said: "We sell Check Point because we have a policy of offering best of breed."

Esa Korvenmass, president and CEO of Stonesoft, denied the company was using the EC's ruling as a marketing opportunity. "We did this for business reasons and to make sure we were not blocked out from distribution channels."

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