REDMOND, Wash., June 29, 1999 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that it has filed civil software piracy lawsuits against eight New England businesses suspected of illegally distributing counterfeit products and installing unlicensed software on computers distributed to undercover investigators. This regional sweep, which includes lawsuits against three businesses in Massachusetts, three in Connecticut, one in Rhode Island and one in Maine, is Microsoft’s latest attempt to protect legitimate software distributors and customers in New England, where the economic impact of software piracy in 1997 topped $1.2 billion.
“The sale of illegal software products makes it difficult for legitimate software resellers to compete,”
said Ray Riddick, vice president of software licensing at GreenPages Co., an authorized Microsoft large account reseller in New England.
“Often customers who receive counterfeit software from disreputable vendors ultimately experience system failures that can be costly to fix. We support Microsoft’s actions against the illegal activities of such companies.”
“When businesses obtain and use software illegally, our industry suffers not only by the theft of intellectual property but also by being deprived of an equitable return on investment,”
said Joyce Plotkin, president of the Massachusetts Software Council Inc.
Microsoft cautions that, in addition to the increased potential for viruses, consumers who acquire pirated products could find they are missing key elements, such as user manuals and product identifications, certificates of authenticity, end-user license agreements and even software code. Microsoft continually researches the viability of new anti-piracy technologies, such as the hologram on the hub of the Microsoft® Windows® 98 operating system CD, to maintain the integrity of the distribution channel and reduce the costs of piracy.
In most cases, investigations are initiated when resellers or customers who have obtained suspicious product call the Microsoft anti-piracy hot line. The civil cases brought by Microsoft today involve businesses that allegedly distributed counterfeit copies of Microsoft software to undercover investigators and/or customers and businesses that allegedly loaded unauthorized copies of Microsoft software onto the hard drives of computers that they distributed to undercover investigators. The complaints are as follows:
Computer Center of Hanover, Mass., allegedly hard disk loaded Office Professional 97 and distributed counterfeit components of Office Professional 97.
Custom Computing Inc. of Biddeford, Maine, allegedly distributed counterfeit Windows 95 and counterfeit components of Windows 98 and Office Professional 97.
East Coast Computers & Electronics Inc. of Norwalk, Conn., allegedly hard disk loaded Windows 98 and Office Professional 97 and allegedly distributed counterfeit components of Office Professional 97.
HM Computer Consulting of North Haven, Conn., allegedly hard disk loaded Windows 98 and Office Professional 97.
Olympic Computron of Beverly, Mass., allegedly distributed counterfeit copies of Windows 95, Windows 98 and Office Professional 97.
PC-Logic Inc. of Orange, Conn., allegedly distributed counterfeit components of Office Professional 97 and Windows 95.
Peabody Computers of Peabody, Mass., allegedly hard disk loaded Office Professional 97 and allegedly distributed counterfeit components of Office Professional 97.
Signature Computers Inc. of Warwick, R.I., allegedly distributed counterfeit copies of Windows 95 and Office Professional 97 in violation of a settlement agreement.
“The distribution of illegal software products severely impacts businesses and harms consumers across Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maine, which together make up a significant portion of the New England technology hub,”
said Nick Psyhogeos, Microsoft
“We are announcing the lawsuits today to educate New England citizens about how easily they can be victimized by unscrupulous software distributors and about the risks associated with pirated products.”
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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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