Microsoft Sues Counterfeit Software Auctioneers

    October 31, 2006

Microsoft has announced a series of legal actions taken in a continued effort to curb piracy of its widely used Windows and Office software packages. The company is specifically targeting online auctioneers who offer counterfeit or tampered versions of the software.

Microsoft has filed 55 lawsuits in all, including 15 in the United States, 10 in Germany, 10 in the Netherlands, five in France and five in the United Kingdom, as well as legal proceedings in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Korea, Mexico and Poland.

The companies and individuals named in the lawsuits are alleged to have made use of eBay and other online auction sites to sell counterfeit versions of both Windows and Office.

My own eBay research returned 2142 software items for the search term “Windows XP” and 1484 listings for “Microsoft Office” – several of which appeared less than legitimate.

According to Microsoft, the company received information concerning the alleged piracy activities via its Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) program.

WGA is designed, among other functions, to determine the authenticity of a particular software product and instruct users about the potential pitfalls associated with purchases counterfeit software titles.

“Counterfeit software is defective and dangerous because counterfeiters tamper with the genuine software code, which leaves the door open to identity theft and other serious security breaches,” said Matt Lundy, a senior attorney at Microsoft, in a press release covering Microsoft’s announcement.

Lundy adds, “It is simply not worth putting your personal and confidential information at risk to save a few dollars on software; it can cost much more in the long run. For our part, Microsoft is committed to taking the necessary legal action to protect consumers worldwide from the dangers of counterfeit software.”

According to Yahoo, Microsoft found that 34 percent of the counterfeit Windows XP disks could not even be installed on a computer. Also, 43 percent contained additional programs, or binary code, that Microsoft claims is not part of the operating system.

The filing of legal action against the alleged counterfeiters comes on the precipice of the release of both Windows Vista and Office 2007 to the public.

The company is facing legitimate competition in many of its other ventures, so it seems this move is designed at protecting its habitually profitable operating system and office suite markets.

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Joe is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest ebusiness news.