Microsoft Files Record Nine Lawsuits in Mid-Atlantic Anti-Piracy Sweep

Microsoft Files Record Nine Lawsuits in Mid-Atlantic Anti-Piracy Sweep

REDMOND, Wash., April 8, 1998 — Officials at Microsoft Corp. today announced lawsuits against nine New Jersey and Pennsylvania companies for alleged copyright and trademark infringement, contempt, distribution of counterfeit products and “hard disk loading,” the installation of pirated software on computers that are in turn sold to customers.

The lawsuits represent Microsoft’s expansion of its ongoing regional investigations into the distribution of illegal Microsoft® software in North America. This is the first time Microsoft’s investigations have focused on both counterfeit distribution and hard disk loading, rather than a separate investigation into each type of illegal activity.

Following is the breakdown of the lawsuits according to company, where the lawsuit was filed, type of alleged violation and products involved:

  • A & N Audio Laboratories Inc., Westfield, N.J.

Case filed April 6 in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey

Counterfeit distribution of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) Microsoft Windows® 95, the Microsoft Windows NT® Server operating system version 4.0, OEM Windows NT Workstation 4.0, Microsoft Easy Fulfillment version of Office 97 Professional Edition for retail

  • H & H Distributing Inc., also known as Howell & Howell Inc., also known as H & H Computer, Cherry Hill, N.J.

Case filed April 6 in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey

Counterfeit distribution of OEM Windows 3.11, OEM Windows 95, retail and Microsoft Easy Fulfillment version of Office 97 Professional Edition

  • Consolidated CD-ROM Inc., Wyncote, Pa.

Case filed April 6 in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Counterfeit distribution of OEM Windows 95

  • Ram Computer Products Inc., Belle Mead, N.J.
    Case filed March 4 in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, Trenton Vicinage
    Hard disk loading and counterfeit distribution of Office 97 Professional Edition and the Windows 95 operating system

  • A & A ITG Computers, Philadelphia
    Case filed March 25 in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania
    Hard disk loading of Windows 95

  • C2 Services Inc., Prospect Park, Pa.
    Case filed March 25 in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania
    Hard disk loading and counterfeit distribution of Office 97 Professional Edition and Windows 95

  • K & S Computer, Philadelphia
    Case filed March 25 in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania
    Hard disk loading of Office 97 Professional Edition and Windows 95

  • Nexcom Inc., Elkins Park, Pa.
    Case filed March 25 in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania
    Hard disk loading and counterfeit distribution of Office 97 Professional Edition and Windows 95

  • T Comp Computer Retail Services, Kennett Square, Pa.
    Case filed March 25 in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania
    Hard disk loading of Office 97 Professional Edition and Windows 95

“The fact that an increasing number of companies are engaging in both forms of illegal distribution – hard disk loading and counterfeiting – was the impetus for the twin focus of these investigations,” said Nancy Anderson, senior corporate attorney for North American anti-piracy at Microsoft. “Increasing the scope of these investigations to pursue both types of infringers is further proof that we are committed to protecting our intellectual property.”

Leads for the cases originated from the Microsoft anti-piracy hotline and subsequent undercover purchases by Microsoft investigators at various computer swap meets in the New Jersey-Pennsylvania area. Microsoft investigated three companies that previously had settled with the company for illegal distribution in fall 1996. Of those companies, two violated their settlement agreements and sold PC systems with unlicensed software to Microsoft investigators. As a result of these settlement violations, Microsoft also has filed contempt charges against the two companies, Penn Micro Center of Philadelphia and United Computer Resources of New Jersey in Cherry Hill. Both companies had signed court-ordered permanent injunctions when they were originally investigated in October 1996 and February 1997, respectively, agreeing not to distribute infringing Microsoft product in the future.

“As an organization that represents the industry in fighting software piracy, BSA is glad to see two of the most prevalent forms of piracy being addressed in one dual campaign,” said Bob Kruger, vice president of enforcement for the Business Software Alliance (BSA). “Channel piracy is also a growing concern for BSA. We are ramping up our efforts to protect consumers and to help resellers compete on a level playing field.”

The software industry is a significant driver of the current economic prosperity in the United States, accounting for a $102.8 billion market for software and software-related services, payment of $7.2 billion in taxes and the creation of more than 2 million jobs. However, software piracy threatens the ability of the industry to continue to contribute to the American economy. According to a 1997 study by Nathan Associates commissioned by the Business Software Alliance, software piracy in 1996 resulted in the loss of 130,000 jobs in the United States, nearly $1 billion in tax revenues and $5.3 billion in wages.

Companies that build PCs and want to obtain genuine Microsoft OEM products for inclusion with their systems should obtain the products only from Microsoft’s 14 authorized delivery service partners (DSPs). A list of DSPs is available at http://www.microsoft.com/oem/ .

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.” OEM versions of Microsoft products do not include end-user support.

  • 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 hot line 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 anti-piracy hot line at (888) NO PIRACY (667-4722) or sending 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, Windows and Windows NT 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.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/ on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

Related Posts