RealTime IT News

Casey Considers Defamation Suit Against Microsoft

[Pretoria, 23 June 2000] - Casey Electronics is considering legal action against Microsoft South Africa after the company, reacting to a tip-off, raided Casey's premises and then informed the press that Casey had been "trafficking in counterfeit Microsoft software."

The Pretoria branch of the Commercial Crime Unit of the SA Police Services yesterday raided the JSE-listed Casey Investment Holdings offices in Centurion, South of Pretoria, confiscating 38 Microsoft-branded mice and a copy of Windows 98 OEM. The initial search warrant had specified that the police were looking for Windows NT packages.

Casey CEO Mahomed Cassim revealed that the products confiscated had been purchased from two separate and reputable IT companies with which the electronics company had been dealing for the previous twelve years.

"In addition, we provided Microsoft with the relevant original tax invoices for the purchases." Cassim revealed.

Cassim commented that if the products are indeed counterfeit, they were of such high quality that Microsoft's Channel Integrity Manager Roelie Le Roux confirmed that he could not immediately tell the difference. "Le Roux, who was present at the raid, told me that if the products are counterfeits, they are of such high quality that he could not tell the difference." Cassim remarked.

"In these circumstances, we find it absolutely irresponsible of Microsoft South Africa to issue statements to the press that damage the reputation of Casey based on hearsay, an industry tip-off and inconclusive proof." Cassim remarked. "It's hard to believe that a company of Microsoft's calibre would seek publicity at the expense of another company on an alleged counterfeit 'coup' of R2,560." Cassim warned that his company intend to take this further and are considering legal action.

The statement with which Cassim particularly takes issue is the paragraph in the Microsoft press release where it states that the raid was initiated "...after the Microsoft SA anti-piracy team received a tip-off from an industry source that the company was trafficking counterfeit Microsoft software."

It is debatable whether this statement categorically states that it is Microsoft's belief that Cassey was involved in dealing with counterfeit products. Rather, it appears to report that it was the opinion of the organization that tipped off Microsoft about Cassey's activities.

Nevertheless, Microsoft SA's Mark Reynolds reiterated the statement. "We stand by our statement," he said. "We believe that it is in the public's and the market's interest to be aware that counterfeit goods are being sold under the guise that they are legitimate products." Reynolds claims that Microsoft made two purchases on separate occasions prior to contacting the police for a search warrant.