Microsoft Takes Legal Actions to Thwart Software Piracy in South Florida

MIAMI, May 3, 2001 — Today Microsoft Corp. announced legal actions against two South Florida businesses for alleged distribution of counterfeit software. These actions were taken to protect consumers, honest businesses and the economy from the negative impact of software piracy.

Consumers who unwittingly acquire counterfeit software are at risk of obtaining software that may have viruses or may be missing essential code. In addition, they are ineligible for technical support for the counterfeit products they have obtained.

Software piracy also creates unfair competition and results in revenue losses for honest businesses.
“Resellers who do not sell their customers legitimately licensed software are not only exposing their customers to a potentially huge liability, they are making it impossible for them to get future tech support and upgrades,”
said Maria Romano, vice president of sales for Altek Consulting.
“There is also the issue of fair play within the marketplace that is impacted by the distribution of pirated software. The health of our industry depends on everyone being able to generate a profit.”

The legal actions allege that the defendants persisted in distributing counterfeit software and/or infringing copies of Microsoft® software to consumers and/or Microsoft investigators. The complaints, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, are as follows:

  • Microsoft v. New Media Computer Corp., Fort Lauderdale, alleging distribution of counterfeit Office 2000 Professional and a component of Office 97 Professional (Case No. 01-6715 CIV GRAHAM).

  • Microsoft v. Global Spider Inc. and Nico International LLC , Miami, alleging distribution of counterfeit components of Office 2000 Professional and Office 97 Professional (Case No. 01-1786 CIV-LENARD).

Global Spider Inc. and Nico International LLC allegedly distributed the counterfeit components from Web addresses that have been traced to New Mexico and New Jersey in addition to the South Florida location. Just as legitimate businesses have seen e-commerce as a solid business opportunity, distributors of counterfeit product have also viewed the Internet as an effective tool to advertise and distribute illegal software, music, movies and other copyrighted material.

According to a study commissioned by the Business Software Alliance, Florida’s piracy rate of 30.7 percent in 1999 resulted in the loss of 4,757 jobs and over $259 million in wages and tax revenue for the state. Florida lawmakers have recognized the importance of protecting intellectual property and have been proactive in establishing a statewide policy dealing directly with the issue of software piracy. In January, Gov. Jeb Bush and Secretary of State Katherine Harris signed an executive order mandating computer software throughout state government be licensed and genuine.

“It’s encouraging to see the efforts being done in Florida and throughout the United States to combat software piracy,”
said Mary Jo Schrade, corporate attorney at Microsoft.
“As a leader in the industry, we take our responsibility seriously to work with industry associations and state governments to make consumers aware of the harmful effects of software piracy.”

Consumers and resellers can look for the following warning signs to help them identify counterfeit or illegal software:

  • Prices that are
    “too good to be true”

  • Suspicious methods of delivery and/or payment

  • 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”
    or
    “Special CD for licensed customers only,”
    that does not accurately 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 e-mail to piracy@microsoft.com. Additional information is available at Microsoft’s anti-piracy Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/piracy/ . Consumers can also obtain information by calling the Business Software Alliance anti-piracy hot line at (888) NO-PIRACY (667-4722) or by sending e-mail to software@bsa.org.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
“MSFT”
) 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.

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