Apple has joined an alliance to stamp out gray-market merchandising.

The gray market is the transfer of brand-name hardware and software outside of authorized channels. Its opponents say it results in products meant for one market being sold in another – with a resultant lack of after-sales support and warranties.

Other members of the Anti Gray Market Alliance (AGMA) include 3Com, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel Networks and Xerox.

Membership of the AGMA is open to technology companies worldwide. It aims to educate the IT market about illegal or deceptive brokering or diversion of products, and address the flows of products into the gray market.

Tesco hit the headlines in March by undercutting Apple on iMac DV machines by sourcing them from Europe's gray market.

The AGMA asserts that gray market activity accounts for over $20 billion in lost revenue each year.

AGMA founding member, 3Comm brought a lawsuit against Magitech in May 2001, alleging the computer firm repackaged 3Com network interface cards in fake packaging, with false documentation and software.

It then sold over 10,000 units to a retail computer and electronic store. Magitech was found guilty on August, 20, of trademark infringement, false designation of origin, copyright infringement, unfair competition, and breach of contract.