Microsoft’s Legal Actions Help Protect Maryland Consumers From Risks Associated With Counterfeit Software

BALTIMORE, Nov. 16, 2000 — In an effort to improve the health and authenticity of the Baltimore software market for consumers, Microsoft Corp. today took legal action against two Maryland software resellers for the alleged distribution of counterfeit Microsoft® software.

Software piracy is on the increase in Maryland, growing from 16.8 percent in 1998 to 26.9 percent in 1999. According to International Planning and Research Corp., in 1999, software piracy cost the state more than 2,570 jobs and over $193 million in combined wages and tax revenues.

“When businesses are illegally selling pirated software, consumers lose in several ways,”
said Dale Watson of Alpha Engineering in Annapolis.

Not only are consumers at risk of acquiring software with bugs or viruses and no option of upgrades or technical support, but the local economy takes a hit through the reduction in available jobs.

“Piracy puts a damper on the legitimate marketplace. We welcome the efforts of Microsoft and the software industry to ensure that businesses have a balanced playing field and that consumers receive genuine merchandise.”

Microsoft has filed cases against the following defendants in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland:

  • Intellect Computers Inc. of Rockville, alleging the distribution of counterfeit Windows® 95 and Office 97 Professional Edition

  • Charles County Computers Inc. of Waldorf, alleging the distribution of counterfeit Windows 95 and Office 2000 Professional Edition

“Microsoft is committed to cleaning up its software marketplace so that legitimate businesses have the opportunity to flourish and contribute to the local economy and so that consumers are not continually placed at risk of paying good money for bad software,”
said Nick Psyhogeos, corporate attorney for Microsoft.
“Because honest resellers cannot compete against illegal vendors, we will continue to take appropriate action as necessary against those companies that persist in selling illegal Microsoft software.”

Microsoft works both independently and with industry organizations such as the Business Software Alliance (BSA), a software industry watchdog group, to alert consumers to piracy and to help businesses learn how to review their software to ensure its legality. BSA recently announced a truce in Baltimore for November during which businesses are encouraged to review and ensure their software’s compliance. During the truce, BSA will help bring companies into compliance without imposing penalties for past illegal software usage. As a BSA-member company, Microsoft is supporting BSA’s efforts by taking legal action and by making sure that all companies have a legitimate software marketplace in which they can obtain genuine Microsoft software and licenses.

Here are some of the warning signs of counterfeit or illegal software:

  • Prices that are
    “too good to be true”

  • Suspicious delivery and/or payment methods

  • Retail software distributed in jewel cases only, rather than full-color retail boxes

  • Software marked with a phrase, such as
    “For distribution with a new PC only”
    “Special CD for licensed customers only,”
    that does not describe the transaction

Customers or resellers with questions about the legitimacy of Microsoft software should contact the Microsoft anti-piracy hot line, toll free, at (800) RU-LEGIT (785-3448) or
send an e-mail message to [email protected]. Additional information on piracy is available at Microsoft’s anti-piracy Web site at . Consumers can also obtain information by calling the Business Software Alliance anti-piracy hot line at (888) NO-PIRACY (667-4722) or by sending an e-mail message to [email protected].

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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