Microsoft Files Lawsuits Against Three New York Computer Resellers

Microsoft Files Lawsuits Against Three New York Computer Resellers

REDMOND, Wash., Jan. 28, 1998 — Officials at Microsoft Corp. today announced that the company has filed lawsuits against three New York computer resellers for copyright and trademark infringement.

The lawsuits allege that the companies installed unlicensed software and distributed counterfeit products. They represent the latest round of a “continuous sweeps” program that Microsoft launched last year in several key North American regions. The campaign is aimed at stopping the practice known as “hard disk loading,” the installation of pirated software on computers sold to customers. The lawsuits were filed in the U.S. District Court, Eastern and Southern Districts of New York.

In this sweep, Microsoft investigated 17 companies for alleged illegal activities. During the investigation, PC systems from seven companies were purchased and allegedly contained illegal software. All the companies were investigated as the result of Microsoft anti-piracy hot line calls and investigations conducted at computer swap meets and tradeshows in the New York area.

The three companies named in the lawsuits are Prime Computers Inc. (PCI) of New York, N.Y.; Brooklyn Computer Center, also known as Eastern Micro, also known as Golden Technology Distribution Corp., of Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Century Computer, also known as Five Star Computer Corp., of Flushing, N.Y. The companies allegedly distributed counterfeit and/or hard disk-loaded Microsoft products, including the Microsoft® Windows® 95 operating system and Office 97 Professional Edition.

“We are taking aggressive action against illegal distribution in the New York and New Jersey area,” said Bob Jones, general manager for the New York-New Jersey sales office at Microsoft. “Cleaning up software piracy in New York continues to be one of our top priorities. We intend to respond to any piracy leads we receive within 24 hours. We really make an effort to get our anti-piracy hot line number and e-mail address out to our channel partners and the general public.”

The maximum statutory damages allowed is up to $100,000 per work for copyright infringement and $1 million per mark for trademark infringement.

The continuous sweeps program was launched in 1997 and focuses on the problem of hard disk loading, the installation of illegal software on computers sold to customers. The program’s main features are its continuous nature and its pattern of repeated visits to regions throughout the country where software piracy is a persistent problem.

“The nature of the continuous sweeps program dictates that if you are distributing illegal software, sooner or later you’re going to get caught,” said Jim Lowe, corporate attorney for Microsoft. “We are hitting targeted areas of the country continuously. If I were a dishonest reseller, I wouldn’t feel real safe right now.”

Companies that build PCs and want to obtain Microsoft OEM products for inclusion with their systems should obtain the products only from Microsoft’s 13 authorized Delivery Service Partners (DSPs). A list of DSPs is available at http://www.microsoft.com/oem/ .

Microsoft receives more than 2,000 calls and e-mails each month that are reviewed by investigators to identify computer resellers and end users that are using or distributing Microsoft software illegally. In addition to increasing enforcement efforts, Microsoft is working to help consumers recognize warning signs that could indicate they are acquiring illegal or counterfeit software:

  • Prices that are “too good to be true”

  • No certificate of authenticity

  • Microsoft products on the retail shelf that include a line on the front cover of the user’s guide that states, “For distribution with a new PC only.” Microsoft’s agreements with computer manufacturers prohibit them from distributing Microsoft software without accompanying PC hardware. Microsoft does not provide consumer support for this type of product.

  • 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 hot line toll-free at (800) RU-LEGIT (785-3448) or send
e-mail to piracy@microsoft.com. To receive more information about software piracy, call the Business Software Alliance (BSA) anti-piracy hot line at (888) NO PIRACY (667-4722) or send e-mail to software@bsa.org.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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