Microsoft takes on US eBay counterfeit traders

Microsoft is ramping up its campaign against counterfeiting, filing eight suits in the US against eBay traders selling dodgy software.

Microsoft fingered seven of the defendants through customers using its Windows Genuine Advantage tool, which determines whether Microsoft software is genuine and allows them to submit reports of where they bought the software if it proves counterfeit. Other evidence came from complaints made to the company’s anti-piracy hotline.

‘Microsoft is seeking various relief in the complaints announced on March 15, 2005. First, we are seeking a court order that prohibits the defendants from engaging in infringing conduct. In addition, we are seeking damages caused by the unlawful conduct alleged in the complaint,’

said Matt Lundy, Microsoft Anti-Piracy Attorney.

The suits were filed in Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York and Washington.

‘We are committed to leveling the playing field for our partners,’ said John Ball, general manager for the US System Builders Partner Group at Microsoft, which works with businesses that manufacture computers. ‘The lawsuits announced today allege these sellers have willfully violated the law. We hope these legal actions send a strong message to people thinking of selling counterfeit software on online auction sites that it is not worth the risk.’

The world’s biggest software company is treading carefully around the online auction giant, maintaining that it remains a great place to get a deal, but also warning that ‘cheap, pirated and counterfeit software abounds in the online marketplace’. Furthermore, users of counterfeit software run the risk of unwittingly introducing viruses, malicious code or spyware into their computers.

Microsoft filed 10 suits against defendants in the US last December. Many of these arose from abuse of the Microsoft Action Pack Subscriptions (MAPS) programme, which gives retailers access to Microsoft’s products in order to test them internally. However, it transpired that these products were being sold on to consumers through online auction sites such as eBay.

The company has also been active in the UK, with a team closely monitoring counterfeit activity on online auction sites. Between August and October of last year some 21,000 auctions were removed.

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