"We alleged that Cisco is harming consumers and the marketplace and competitors like Multiven ... by forcing their customers to purchase SMARTnet agreements with (Cisco) to obtain the critical software bug fixes, which should be made available to any customer who has purchased any software," Yussuf said.
Multiven's concerns echoed those expressed by some customers, who have complained that Cisco should fix its own bugs free of charge just as other companies such as Apple and Microsoft do. Some users have said the problem becomes complicated with second-hand and refurbished hardware. Cisco service contracts can't be transferred from one user to another, so buyers of used gear typically have to send the product in for inspection by Cisco before they can purchase a new contract, which can be an expensive process. Also, there may not be SMARTnet contracts available for discontinued products.
There is a large market for used Cisco equipment, fed by both buyers who can't afford new gear and those who need a router or switch model that is currently unavailable new, according to Brad Reese, research manager at BradReese.Com, which sells refurbished networking gear and services. He estimates the worldwide secondary market for networking gear at $2 billion, with 90 percent of sales being Cisco equipment.
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