RealTime IT News

Microsoft Wins $1.5 Million in Piracy Case

Microsoft recently found itself on the right side of the gavel when it was awarded $1.5 million in a case against Chicago-based Logical Choice Computers.

Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer of the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, issued a 33-page opinion on January 19, in which she found Logical Choice Computers had distributed counterfeit copies of Microsoft Office Professional 97 and Windows 95 software.

Microsoft's piracy charges date back to 1999, when a cease-and-desist letter was sent to Logical Choice. The letter, which demanded that Logical Choice stop distributing counterfeit Microsoft software, went ignored.

The court upheld the software titan's charges, noting that the actions of Logical Choice Computers' "amounted to willful infringement and ignorance of Microsoft's legal rights." Additionally, the court found that the actions violated the Federal Copyright Law, Federal Trademark Law, Illinois Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Illinois common law of unfair competition.

"We applaud the U.S. District Court's decision," said Janice Block, a Microsoft corporate attorney. "Our primary goal in this case was to seek a permanent injunction where Logical Choice Computers would no longer be able to distribute counterfeit software."

She added that the court's decision benefits the community and the economy as a whole. "In 1999 alone, combined financial losses for Illinois -- including wage and salary, tax revenue, and retail dollars for business software applications -- totaled more than $403 million, due to software piracy," she said. "Software piracy is incredibly harmful to our state's economic health and cannot be tolerated. The ruling of the Illinois Court against Logical Choice Computers is a promising step forward in the fight against piracy."

According to a study by International Planning and Research Corp., Illinois' software piracy rate is 21.2 percent -- which translates into more than one in five software products in the state being pirated. During 1999, the state lost more than 4,000 jobs due to software piracy, resulting in lost wages and salaries exceeding $217 million.

Federal and state tax losses stemming from software piracy robbed Illinois of more than $72.1 million during 1999, according to the study.

A Microsoft spokesperson could not be reached for further comment.