UPDATE: Microsoft attorney David Finn has responded to my request for comment. Click here for the full statement.
Microsoft announced this morning that they have filed suit against Comet, a British retailer that specializes in electronics and appliances. The suit accuses Comet of “creating and selling more than 94,000 sets of counterfeit Windows Vista and Windows XP recovery CDs.” The recovery discs were sold to customers who bought Windows PCs. In years past, Microsoft supplied such discs itself, but has stopped doing so.
In their statement, Microsoft insists that “Comet’s actions were unfair to customers,” and emphasized their concern to “ensure people get what they pay for,” and to shield customers from pirated versions of their software.
Meanwhile, Comet have issued a statement of their own. In it they insist that they are the ones who acting in the consumers’ best interests, based on their belief that “customers had been adversely affected by the decision to stop supplying recovery discs with each new Microsoft Operating System based computer.” Comet also asserted that their actions do not constitute infringement, and stated their intention to defend against the suit “vigorously.”
A request for comment from Microsoft has not yet been answered. This situation presents an interesting problem, in that both companies claim to be acting in the best interest of consumers. Moreover, Comet does not appear to be selling the discs to consumers independently. The only way to get them is to purchase a Windows-based PC from Comet. Which means that in effect, Comet’s customers are only receiving a product that they have already paid for. This is definitely a story worth watching. Check back for updates as it unfolds.
What do you think? Should Comet be allowed to make Windows recovery discs for customers who have bought Windows computers? Let us know in the comments.[Sources: Microsoft Press Release; Comet Statement]