Burglary Hits Microsoft Manufacturing Plant in Europe for Second Time
Consumers Need to Be on Lookout for Possible Counterfeit Software With Genuine Component
REDMOND, Wash. - July 22, 1998 - - Microsoft Corp. today announced a burglary that took place in the late evening hours of Friday, July 17, at Thompson Litho Ltd. in Colville Place, East Kilbride, Scotland. Thompson Litho is an Authorized Replicator for Microsoft's OEM (Original Equipment Manufactuer) division, manufacturing finished Microsoft product that includes a sophisticated new Certificate of Authenticity (COA) built into the cover of OEM versions of operating systems' product manuals beginning with the Microsoft® Windows® 98 operating system. Thompson Litho previously was the target of a burglary in November 1997, in which approximately 200,000 Microsoft loose COAs (Microsoft's previous version of the security device) were stolen.
Late Friday afternoon several pallets (115,000 units) of the COA cover stock were delivered to an annex of the Thompson Litho plant. Some time between 4:30 p.m. and 11:10 p.m. Friday evening the perpetrator(s) obtained access to the annex by forcing open a fire exit door, and then gaining entry to a secured area where the COA cover stock was being kept. The perpetrator(s) loaded the COA cover stock into a Thompson Litho van, for which they had a key, and fled. A video camera recorded the van as it was leaving the premises. The theft was discovered on Monday morning when the plant opened. The van was found abandoned in the same area as the van that was used in the plant burglary in November. The estimated value of cover stock components, if assembled into complete products, exceeds $17 million (U.S.).
Counterfeiters often sell illegal product in the reseller channel under the guise of "OEM overage" or "liquidated inventory" in an attempt to justify suspiciously low prices. Statistics from undercover test purchases show that the majority of this supposed overage or "gray market" software is actually counterfeit.
"This burglary just goes to show that the myth of OEM overage or gray market product is just that - a myth," said Geoff Goetz, worldwide anti-piracy program manager for Microsoft's OEM division. "If liquidated product were so readily available, why would counterfeiters resort to theft to obtain these components?"
Microsoft OEM division officials emphasize that this theft did not involve CD-ROMs that contain the new holographic image on the inner hub. System builders and consumers alike should look for an iridescent image located near the center hole of Windows 98 CD-ROMs that alternates between reading "Genuine" and "Microsoft" when tilted under direct light. System builders or PC assemblers are further encouraged to obtain Microsoft OEM product only from authorized distributors (a complete listing is available at http://www.microsoft.com/oem/).
The cover stock units were in raw form and had not been cut to size or bound. Authorities and Microsoft officials believe this process will need to be done to complete the counterfeiting activity and are therefore notifying binderies of the burglary and the possibility of being approached by the suspect(s).
Below is a list of number ranges printed on the stolen COA cover stock:
Customers or resellers with information regarding this theft, or with questions about the legitimacy of Microsoft products, should contact the Microsoft anti-piracy hot line toll free at (800) RU-LEGIT (785-3448) or send e-mail to email@example.com. More information about
software piracy can be obtained by calling the Business Software Alliance (BSA) anti-piracy hot line at (888) NO PIRACY (667-4722) or by sending e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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