Microsoft Files Software Piracy Lawsuits Against Five Houston-Based Resellers
Commitment to Protect Customers and Resellers Reinforced As Crackdown Against Counterfeit Software Continues
HOUSTON - Aug. 5, 1999 - Microsoft Corp. today announced that the company has filed lawsuits against five resellers in Houston for allegedly distributing counterfeit software and installing unlicensed software on computers - a practice called hard disk loading.
The five lawsuits represent Microsoft's continued efforts to protect consumers and legitimate resellers and to lessen the negative effects of software piracy on the Texas economy. According to Microsoft, in 1997 software piracy cost Texas more than 10,200 jobs, translating into $340 million in wage and salary losses. The state also lost $44 million in tax revenue that otherwise could have contributed to local and state improvement projects.
"It's honest resellers, such as myself, and consumers who are most impacted by the illegal distribution of software by dishonest resellers," said Russell Duckworth, president of infoQuest in Garland, Texas. "We are grateful to companies like Microsoft that are making a concerted effort to stop the people behind this."
"Microsoft is listening to resellers and consumers. We receive and follow up on thousands of software piracy leads each month that we receive through our anti-piracy hot line and e-mail," said Janice Block, corporate attorney at Microsoft. "The reality is that pirated software results in lost revenues for honest resellers and gives illegal operators an unfair competitive advantage vis-à-vis companies that obey the law. Moreover, the inferior quality of counterfeits tarnishes the channel and the software vendor's image."
Most investigations are initiated by tips called in to the Microsoft anti-piracy hot line by customers or other resellers who have obtained suspicious software. Microsoft customarily notifies a company that it is suspected of acting illegally and asks the company to stop the illegal activity. Microsoft then determines whether the suspect company has continued its illegal activity before filing a lawsuit. The complaints, which were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, allege hard disk loading and/or the distribution of counterfeit software to investigators, as follows:
Microsoft cautions that consumers who acquire pirated software could find, in addition to the increased potential for viruses, that they are missing key elements such as user manuals and identifications, Certificates of Authenticity, end-user license agreements and even software code. Microsoft continually researches the viability of new anti-piracy technologies, such as the hologram on the hub of the Windows 98 CD, to maintain the integrity of the distribution channel and reduce the costs of piracy.
Consumers should become familiar with the warning signs that can help them identify counterfeit or illegal software:
Customers or resellers with questions about the legitimacy of Microsoft software should contact the Microsoft anti-piracy hot line, toll free, at (800) RU-LEGIT (785-3448), or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, a list of authorized distributors and details regarding the OEM System Builder program are available at http://www.microsoft.com/oem/. Consumers can obtain more information about software piracy by calling the Business Software Alliance anti-piracy hot line at (888) NO-PIRACY (667-4722) or sending e-mail to email@example.com.
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