REDMOND, Wash. — Feb. 4, 2008 — Prison sentences handed down to counterfeiters by a Taipei, Taiwan, court mark the end of a string of successful prosecutions by international law enforcement agencies, bringing a global software counterfeiting ring to a final halt. Between 1997 and 2003, Huang Jer-sheng, owner of the Taipei-based distributor Maximus Technology Inc., and his associates were responsible for the production and distribution of more than 90 percent of the high-quality counterfeit Microsoft software products either seized by law enforcement or test-purchased around the world.
The syndicate produced counterfeit versions of at least 21 Microsoft software products in seven known languages, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese and simplified Chinese, worth an estimated $900 million (U.S.). These products were then distributed and ultimately sold to unwitting resellers and consumers in over 600 cities and at least 22 known countries and regions across the globe: Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Croatia, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Following an extended investigation and prosecution by the Taiwanese authorities, assisted by Microsoft Corp., Huang Jer-sheng was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment on Dec. 31, 2007, equaling the longest sentence handed down for this type of crime in Taiwan’s history. Huang Jer-sheng’s three codefendants were sentenced the same day to imprisonment terms ranging from 18 months to three years.
“The prison sentences handed down in this case in Taiwan — and the dozens of other criminal cases brought by prosecutors around the world against others associated with these Taiwan-based defendants — provide another stark reminder of the consequences of counterfeiting Microsoft products,” said David Finn, associate general counsel for Worldwide Anti-Piracy and Anti-Counterfeiting at Microsoft, speaking at the 4th Global Congress on Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy, Dubai. “Microsoft applauds the work of the Taiwanese authorities in taking such strong enforcement action against this syndicate. This case is another testament to the strong partnership between local law enforcement authorities and private companies, and shows the impact those partnerships can have in getting counterfeit software off the market and bringing criminal counterfeiters to justice.”
Huang Jer-sheng and his associates worked with counterfeiters in both Taiwan and southern China. Two CD replication plants in Taiwan, Chungtek Hightech Enterprise Ltd. and Cinway Technology Co., were the main production centers for counterfeit software discs and components that were later found throughout the world.
According to John Newton, manager of the Intellectual Property Crime project at INTERPOL, “The criminals behind counterfeit syndicates are organized, resourceful and willing to spend large amounts of money to develop and ship pirated goods to markets all over the world. Piracy is a crime, pure and simple, and it is imperative we coordinate our efforts across the globe to stop these criminal syndicates and this illicit trade.”
The prosecutions of this international ring of counterfeiters, led by Huang Jer-sheng, mark the culmination of a number of complex, global investigations conducted over a six-year period, which resulted in the total dismantling of this criminal counterfeiting syndicate. The investigations and prosecutions spanned five continents and resulted in the imposition of significant prison terms in Asia, North America and Europe. In addition to these prosecutions in Taiwan, other notable criminal cases related to this international ring of counterfeiters were brought against suppliers in China, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States between 2001 and 2007.
The Microsoft Genuine Software Initiative
These legal actions are part of Microsoft’s efforts to combat software piracy through its Genuine Software Initiative. Microsoft launched the Genuine Software Initiative in 2006, and since then it has intensified its efforts to protect customers and channel partners from the risks of counterfeit software through an increased focus on education, engineering and enforcement. More information about Microsoft’s Genuine Software Initiative is available at http://www.microsoft.com/genuine.
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