RealTime IT News

Symantec Wants Pirates' Millions

Symantec  is taking a page from rival Microsoft's  book on how to sink software pirates.

The software maker said it is seeking $55 million in damages from eight civil lawsuits against companies it accused of trying to turn a buck by selling counterfeit copies of Symantec security software.

The suits involve Acortech, mPlus and Rowcal Distribution of California; SoftwareOutlets.com and Global Impact of Florida; Directron.com of Texas; Logical Plus of New York; and eDirect Software of Canada.

Symantec, which requested a jury trial for the eight claims filed in California U.S. district courts, alleged the businesses conducted trademark infringement, copyright infringement, sales in counterfeit labels and documentation, fraud, unfair competition, and false advertising.

The company seeks between $4 million to $10 million in damages for each claim, as well as a permanent injunction against all of the businesses from conducting further sales of unauthorized Symantec products.

Symantec also called for the businesses to turn over any remaining counterfeit Symantec software, which includes Norton SystemWorks, Norton AntiVirus, Norton Internet Security, pcAnywhere and Symantec AntiVirus Small Business Edition.

Symantec said its Brand Protection Task Force investigated the thefts by purchasing and reviewing the suspected counterfeit products, which came on compact disks. Most of the sales were conducted online, with the disks delivered to customers in blank white sleeves with no documentation, directions, labeled packaging or activation code information.

Symantec officials didn't crow about the alleged theft so much as it did about the potential damages to the machines unwitting users install the software on.

Scott Minden, director of legal affairs at Symantec, said in a statement that counterfeit software might not work properly and can damage a user's machine. Counterfeit products could also potentially be loaded with programs that steal users' identities.

"The threat posed by these software pirates to users and the safety of their personal and financial online information cannot be overstated," Minden said.

"These software pirates were moving large quantities of counterfeit product and, as a result, numerous unsuspecting users are now at risk for having their information stolen or lost."

With its hard-line stance, Symantec resembles rival Microsoft, which regularly targets software pirates in court. This is no surprise; the bigger the software vendor, the better the chance counterfeiters feel they have to get away with their leeching.

While the pirates only deigned to copy Symantec's security software, the company has broadened its scope in recent years, acquiring storage provider Veritas Software and IT management specialist Altiris.

Thanks to the new businesses, Symantec has several more competitors, including Microsoft and McAfee  in security, EMC   and IBM  in storage and HP and CA  in IT management.

Symantec will host its Symantec Vision 2007 show in Las Vegas next month.