RealTime IT News

Microsoft Sues 8 Resellers Over Fakes

Microsoft said today it has filed separate lawsuits against eight of its resellers for allegedly passing off counterfeit copies of its software through distribution channels.

The world's biggest software maker has filed suits in Arizona, California, Illinois, Minnesota and New York against the privately held companies who allegedly sold counterfeit copies of several different software products, such as Office 2000 Professional and Windows XP, Mary Jo Schrade, senior attorney at Microsoft, told internetnews.com.

The companies named in the lawsuits are: BWT Industry Technology Service; Data Day USA; MicroCity4Less.com; Winvtech Solutions; Global Computing; Ion Technologies Corp; Compustar and Chips & Techs.

The lawsuits against the resellers stem in part from evidence submitted by consumers through Redmond's Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) program, where customers reported being sold pirated copies of Windows XP Professional.

The anti-piracy initiative differentiates genuine Windows software from counterfeit software and provides an online validation tool for customers to determine whether their software is a fake.

The information provided to Microsoft from the program allowed the company to review the cases and to determine whether illegal or illicit activity was occurring.

"It's very clear to us that our customers want to know if they've received the product they paid for, and it is gratifying to see that initiatives such as WGA, Microsoft's test purchase program and the piracy hotline are proving to be successful in helping to address this widespread problem," Schrade said.

According to Schrade, the lawsuits mark the latest phase in the company's efforts to protect consumers and channel partners from the risks of counterfeit products.

"Microsoft does not take legal action lightly. We remain very serious about protecting honest software resellers and consumers from the illegal activities of software counterfeiters," Schrade said in a statement.

These types of lawsuits are filed by Microsoft only after other efforts to warn and educate these companies have not succeeded in changing the way they distribute Microsoft software, Schrade said.

Redmond says counterfeit activity continues to represent a threat to all software users, including the company's business partners and the software resellers and computer manufacturers around the country that sell genuine software.

The Business Software Alliance's May 2005 piracy report estimates there will be nearly $200 billion of software pirated globally by 2010.

"Honest software resellers and consumers are hurt by illegitimate resellers," John Ball, general manager for the U.S. System Builders partner group at Microsoft, said in a statement.

Microsoft said it previously filed suits against BWT Industry Technology Service and Ion Technologies.