Microsoft Files Lawsuits Against Eight Los Angeles-Area Computer Resellers

REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 30, 1997 — Microsoft Corp. officials today announced that lawsuits were filed Sept. 26 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles, charging eight area companies with copyright and trademark infringement and alleged distribution of counterfeit products.

The lawsuits were the culmination of a three-month sweep of 40 Los Angeles-area businesses, conducted to help protect legitimate resellers and distributors from the effects of widespread counterfeit Microsoft® software in Southern California. Under a new federal law passed in 1996, Microsoft is seeking up to $1 million in damages for each trademark counterfeited.

The California companies named in the lawsuits, their location and the products allegedly involved in each case are Umair Management Corp. (also known as Ashtekand ATI), Tustin, the Windows® 95 operating system and Office Professional 97; M.S. Microsource Inc. (also known as Microsource), Long Beach, Office Professional 97; Yokohama Telecom Corp., Anaheim, Windows 95, Office Professional 97 and OEM Serial Mouse 2.0A; P.C. Services Co., Pasadena, Windows 95; Pacific Star Research Inc., Santa Ana, Windows 95 and the Windows NT® Server network operating system version 4.0; Micro Supply (also known as JPK Micro Supply Inc.), Industry, Windows 95; Computers & Computers LLC (also known as Human Computers), Riverside, Office Professional 97; American Tech Enhance Computer Corp., Brea, Windows 95.

“Counterfeiting is a huge problem in Southern California,” said Gwen Weld, director of business strategies, organizational customer unit at Microsoft. “There were nearly 800 hot-line calls from California in 1996, more than from any other state in the country. The majority of those calls dealt with suspect resellers. This just reaffirms the fact that legitimate resellers are the ones being hurt most by piracy.”

Most of the companies were investigated as a result of tips to the Microsoft Anti-Piracy Hotline from customers who received suspicious products. Microsoft’s undercover investigators visited retail shops personally, acquired product by mail order, and shopped at local computer shows, including the Computer Show & Sale in Oxnard, Calif. Their sweeps found counterfeit versions of numerous Microsoft products.

According to Microsoft, a number of warning signs can help computer buyers identify potentially illegal software:

  • Microsoft’s agreements with computer manufacturers prohibit them from distributing Microsoft software without accompanying PC hardware. Microsoft products on the retail shelf should never include a line on the front cover of the users guide that states, “For distribution with a new PC only.”

  • No Certificate of Authenticity

  • Prices that are “too good to be true”

  • No end-user license agreement

  • No product registration card

  • No backup disks, manuals or other materials for software installed on a new computer system

  • Backup disks that have handwritten labels, are not shrink-wrapped or appear to be of inferior quality

  • Manuals that are photocopied, are not shrink-wrapped or appear to be of inferior quality

Customers or resellers with questions about the legitimacy of Microsoft products should contact the Microsoft Anti-Piracy Hotline toll free at (800) RU-LEGIT (785-3448) or send e-mail to piracy@microsoft.com. More information about software piracy can be obtained by calling the Business Software Alliance (BSA) Anti-Piracy Hotline at (888) NO PIRACY (667-4722) or sending e-mail to software@bsa.org.

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