Microsoft Files Actions Against Five Resellers in Florida
Software Piracy Costs Sunshine State More Than 7,000 Jobs
MIAMI - Oct. 5, 1999 - Microsoft Corp. today announced that the company has filed lawsuits against five resellers in the state of Florida. The lawsuits are part of Microsoft's ongoing efforts to protect legitimate software distributors and customers from the negative effects of software piracy and to lessen the impact of software piracy on both state and national economies. The lawsuits were filed against five computer resellers in the Tampa and Miami/Fort Lauderdale areas for alleged distribution of counterfeit software and/or the installation of unlicensed software on computers.
According to a recent study by International Planning & Research Corp., Florida's software piracy rate of 35.5 percent is nearly 11 percentage points above the national average and ranks as the sixth most negatively impacted state for tax and wage losses caused by software piracy. In 1998, Florida lost over 7,000 jobs and approximately $194 million in wages and salaries. Additionally, the state lost more than $52 million in tax revenue, money that otherwise could have gone to local and state improvement projects.
"The impact of software piracy is threatening the welfare of legitimate businesses. It's nearly impossible to compete with the low prices disreputable software distributors are advertising these days. These prices are just too good to be true," said Thomas Ewing, vice president and general manager of Compuquip. "We appreciate the steps Microsoft is taking to level the playing field. The distribution of counterfeit software and the problems associated with those products - including missing code, potential viruses and no technical support - have harmed the reputation of the distribution channel."
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 allege hard disk loading or the distribution of counterfeit software or software components to investigators and/or customers. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida, the complaints are as follows:
"Software piracy stifles innovation and the growth potential of the economy of the Sunshine State. In addition, it has a negative impact on the honest distribution channel, as well as consumers who are receiving unpredictable and oftentimes nonfunctional software. Microsoft will continue to take action against companies that repeatedly place their customers at risk of receiving illegal software," said Nick Psyhogeos, Microsoft corporate attorney.
Microsoft has announced that, in addition to its other community affairs activities, it expects to donate an estimated $25 million over the next five years - half of its anticipated software piracy recoveries during that time period - to nonprofit organizations worldwide focused on providing access to technology for disadvantaged communities. In 1998, software piracy caused losses to the U.S. economy amounting to nearly $1 billion in taxes and 109,000 jobs.
Consumers and resellers are encouraged to 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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